Automation and Energy-Saving Technologies in Construction Sites in Japan: Key Research Findings 2022
Hardware ConTech to be Implemented at Construction Sites Underway for Demonstrations
Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) carried out a survey on the domestic market trends on construction technologies centered on hardware directly implemented at construction sites, and found out the current status, future perspectives and challenges.
Summary of Research Findings
ConTech is the coined word from “construction” and “technology”, which expresses the utilization of IT technologies in construction industry.
In general terms, ConTech refers to project management, cost management, process control, document creation and management, construction work picture management, administration of drawing, communication tools, etc., which are often software and services.
On the other hand, at construction sites, technologies to assist the sites intuitively are also needed. In particular, construction industry, often pointed out as a labor-intensive industry, has been suffered from problems of aging personnel, labor shortage, and technology heritage. In addition, in the coronavirus crisis, energy saving and contactless technologies have been required to avoid closeness, which indicates productivity improvement is in need at construction sites in recent years through the use of technologies and services that physically assist from the hardware perspective, not only from the software perspective.
This research has targeted those technologies in terms of hardware that are to be directly implemented at construction sites. The ConTech cases currently under development for implementation or in the demonstration tests are: “Automation technologies” such as construction machinery and construction robots; “Remote-control technologies” such as remote control operation technologies for construction machinery and telepresence technologies to share image and voices from remote locations; “Drone technologies” utilizing drones at construction sites; “3D printers for construction” adapted for construction use by utilizing cement materials, etc., and: “Powered Exoskeletons” to support or assist the operations for construction workers.
Many of these technologies are currently in the demonstration phase, with implementation at construction sites yet to be done, but the efforts at major contractors, construction machinery manufacturers, robot manufacturers, system integrators, etc. are in progress, which is likely to make these technologies and services indispensable in construction industry for the future.
Changes Bringing into Construction Sites by ConTech
As changes bringing into construction sites, the technologies to be implemented at construction sites contribute mostly in solving a labor shortage problem, in that they improve productivity per person, enable the operations without directly being at the construction site, and enable the operations 24 hours a day if the operation environment allows, by automating and remote controlling of construction machinery and utilizing construction robots.
In addition, implementation of such technologies is expected to change the entire construction processes at the sites. Technologies in terms of software focus mainly on streamlining what has been done by hand such as ledger management or organizing of records, but the hardware technologies not only replace the existing construction methods to machinery, etc. but are also able to change the operation at construction sites and the characteristics of construction industry itself.
As an example of remote control technology for construction machinery, an operator does not only have to directly visit the construction site, but he/she does not even have to move from an operation room to work for multiple construction sites, which is considered to be a breakthrough from a local industry-type structure of construction industry.
Furthermore, utilization of technologies may release from pitiless and heavy labor in that it substitutes machinery for the operations directly by hand, which may eliminate 3 notorious factors of construction industry, i.e. hard, dirty, and risky. This, then, is expected to improve labor environment and bring in influx of human resources, the solutions for two lingering problems that construction industry suffers from.
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