For more than three decades, Miller Bros. has operated as a leading construction firm in Philadelphia. With more than 500 employees and 1,000 pieces of equipment, the company has developed, engineered, designed, and constructed some of the largest utility, commercial and industrial projects across the USA.
Miller Bros. is heavily invested in renewable energy generation, including microgrids, solar, wind, and energy storage initiatives. Despite the firm’s strong reputation for excellence, operating in an emerging sector always introduces a new set of challenges.
“Renewable energy is schedule-driven, and it’s full of incentives with time clocks on them,” says Joe Marrone, Miller Bros.’ Vice President, Construction. “By the time we’re ready to mobilize for construction, we don’t have very much time to get to the finish line.”
Renewable energy projects aren’t just high-pressure. They’re also unpredictable. Joe’s construction teams regularly deal with delivery delays, inaccurate rebar drawings, and assembly mistakes—knowing that every hour and every dollar wasted could make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful project.
“Toggle’s process saved us about a week for each concrete foundation, but when you consider everything else that’s involved, the total savings are probably 10 times the labor cost.”
Finally, renewable energy and utiluty projects often introduce dangerous working environments for construction workers. Assembling rebar involves high-risk activities. And when the work requires deep excavations or foundations, team members have to climb into small holes to manually assemble each piece.
Because of these unpredictable variables, when Miller Bros. was tasked with installing new battery storage foundations at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, they wanted to find new ways to standardize the process and keep their team members out of harm’s way. So they reached out to Toggle to learn more about robotic prefabrication.
The Navy Yard is situated on a manmade piece of land with a high water table, and Miller Bros.’ project required the placement of reinforced concrete near the Delaware River to support new batteries and generators. Without Toggle’s partnership, Miller Bros. would have had to send construction crews into excavations with fluctuating water levels from the river to tie and weld each rebar cage.
Instead, Toggle pre-assembled the rebar they needed offsite, and inspected every tie and weld to eliminate rework. The finished cages were then delivered directly to the Navy Yard location. All Miller Bros. had to do was drop the rebar into each hole and pour the concrete.
“Toggle’s process saved us about a week for each concrete foundation,” Joe says. “But when you consider everything else that’s involved, the total savings are probably 10 times the labor cost.”
Following the successful installation of the foundations, Miller Bros. decided to work with Toggle on another project in the Navy Yard: constructing duct bank reinforcements, installing 50 manhole slabs, and pouring the foundations for aerial structures; all to hold two miles of electrical cabling.
“These were shallow concrete foundations, so they involved a little bit less risk, but we were under a compressed project schedule,” Joe explains.
Once again, Toggle successfully delivered the assemblies that Miller Bros. needed to beat their deadline. Joe estimates that Toggle’s pre-assembled rebar saved his team about 500 hours of working time on the manhole slabs alone. In total, they eliminated about 100 working days, or five months, across all of the initial Navy Yard projects. The labor that would have been dedicated to these tasks was better utilized for other tasks involved in the project.
“Toggle’s team is outstanding. They’re great communicators, and they go above and beyond to make sure there are no hiccups. From start to finish, engineering to delivery, it’s just been excellent.”
Ultimately, Toggle’s positive impact on Miller Bros.’ bottom line—and the significant boost to safety—led to an expansion of the partnership. Miller Bros. has already contracted Toggle to provide pre-assembled rebar for a number of new, larger projects.
“Toggle’s team is outstanding,” Joe says. “They’re great communicators, and they go above and beyond to make sure there are no hiccups. From start to finish, engineering to delivery, it’s just been excellent.”
The integration of pre-assembled rebar into Miller Bros.’ workflow is a perfect example of the way that robotic automation can transform renewable energy and utility infrastructure construction. By using robotics and prefabrication to do the toughest jobs, construction teams can focus on what they do best—and construction leaders can more consistently beat their deadlines.
At Miller Bros, automation is swiftly becoming part of their core strategy. And Toggle is now a critical partner on their journey to making construction faster and safer.
“We are a premier contractor in the parts of the country that we operate in, and we’re always looking for innovative strategies to keep us competitive,” Joe explains. “If we were doing stuff that we’ve been doing for the last two decades, we’d be uncompetitve or out of business.”