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Voice of Users

Construction Industry IT System

Customer : Tokai Kogyo Co., Ltd.

Viewed from a bulldozer operator's seat, positional monitoring by satellite. TOUGHBOOK is helping bring about the general use of IT in the construction industry as promoted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

TOUGHBOOK PCs installed in the cabs of bulldozers and vibratory rollers. While doing construction work, operators are guided by onscreen coordinate and elevation data calculated in real time from satellite signals. This advanced technology has already been installed and proven in a pioneering system used by Tokai Kogyo for the FY 2008 construction of the Kojima Road on the National Route 23 Toyohashi Higashi Bypass. On the ground, TOUGHBOOK PCs are already helping to realize the policy of MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism). In the coming generation, the goal is to make IT utilization a standard feature of the construction industry.

Attracting the attention of competing companies as a model that is advancing IT in the construction industry

Site manager Mr. Shinichi Nagata

Site manager Mr. Shinichi Nagata
"The CF-U1 withstands the violent vibration in a bulldozer. I was amazed at how tough it is: even after being dropped to the cab floor, it didn't break."

Construction department foreman Mr. Yasuhiro Komoda

Construction department foreman Mr. Yasuhiro Komoda
"The really great thing about the TOUGHBOOK is that you can use it without a second thought: it's just like using a normal computer."

Headquartered in Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokai Kogyo Co., Ltd. is a general construction company that has played a major role in creating the local social infrastructure.

 

Site manager Mr. Shinichi Nagata says, "Workers exchange ideas, discuss what's best, and work together to get the job done." As members of a forward-looking company, the workers at Tokai Kogyo were eager to get to grips with the introduction of a practical IT system they could use for construction.

 

In large-scale projects, such as airport construction, information technology has already been applied in the use of ICT (information and communication technology) to improve productivity and realize high quality. These results encouraged the MLIT to promote general diffusion, aiming by 2012 to make utilization of IT a standard practice in the construction industry. In November 2008, the MLIT Chubu Regional Development Bureau set up Japan’s first Construction ICT Implementation Research Committee. Tokai Kogyo’s construction of the Kojima Road on the National Route 23 Toyohashi Higashi Bypass, the FY 2008 pilot case study, attracted the eyes of the industry.

 

When, in August 2009, the Regional Development Bureau organized an inspection tour of the construction site, it was thronged with more than 170 people, mainly from local construction companies.

 

"Even in small and mid-sized construction projects, information technology is being used more and more; that’s why everyone gave me their full attention when I explained how we used the system.", said Mr. Yasuhiro Komoda, foreman in the construction department.

Work guided by TOUGHBOOK PCs installed in bulldozers and vibratory rollers

TOUGHBOOK CF-19 installed at a vibratory roller driver's seat.

TOUGHBOOK CF-19 installed at a vibratory roller driver's seat.

Tokai Kogyo introduced the GEOSURF iCE Series computerized construction monitoring system supplied by Geosurf Corporation. This uses GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) data for accurate, three-dimensional, close to real-time presentation of vehicle positioning information to equipment operators. Moreover, all the data is stored in digital form to constitute a daily log of work progress.

 

Road construction involves using bulldozers to spread earth and sand in flat layers and vibratory rollers to firmly compact the layers using pressure and vibration. Each vehicle is equipped with a GNSS antenna and receiver to pick up satellite signals and an in-vehicle computer along with wireless LAN equipment to communicate with the site office. The software for bulldozers is called iDozerCE and, for vibratory rollers, iRollerCE. These applications monitor the current position and height of the bulldozer blade and the number of times the vibratory roller has passed over each part of the site. This information is shown on the display of the in-vehicle computer and the data is continuously transmitted to the site office. With iCE Office Lite installed at the site office, the settings for acquiring and managing work data can be controlled. In addition, by generating figures to show the distribution and number of compactions, vehicle travel paths, and embankment status, work progress can be graphically monitored.

 

The in-vehicle computer installed in bulldozers was the CF-U1 and in the vibratory rollers, the CF-19.

 

GEOSURF iCF Series

Dependable and reliable, no need to worry even in a punishing environment with rain and dust

TOUGHBOOK CF-U1 installed at a bulldozer driver's seat.

TOUGHBOOK CF-U1 installed at a bulldozer driver's seat.

"I was interested in the TOUGHBOOK after seeing it in trade journals. It has excellent dust and water resistance, and I was intrigued to find a computer that was tough enough to be used in the kind of harsh environment you find around construction sites." (Mr. Komoda)

 

Bulldozers are particularly susceptible to vibration, and greater vibration resistance was desired.

 

"We chose the CF-U1 for bulldozers because of its superior resistance to shock and vibration, and for its light weight. The heavier the computer, the more likely that the brackets mounting it in the cabin would break due to vibration. In fact, a CF-U1 did accidentally fall for about a meter to the cab floor. It was completely unharmed and worked just the same. I had direct experience of how amazingly well it withstands impacts." (Mr. Nagata)

 

After three months use, the TOUGHBOOK PCs had absolutely zero breakdowns.

 

Mr. Komoda was impressed that there was nothing unusual about the controls of the TOUGHBOOK. He liked the way it could be operated just like a normal computer: "Work on a construction site is characterized by the three Ds-dangerous, dirty, and demanding – and I think that you could say that this applies as much to equipment as to people. Without any second thought whatsoever, in rain and strong sunlight, or surrounded by dust and oil, I could use the TOUGHBOOK no matter how harsh the environment. I really got a feeling that I was involved in something quite revolutionary."

Without the need to stake out the site or take ground measurements, efficiency, quality, and safety are improved

Progress in IT can be found even in the construction equipment used in severe environments. Computers for on-site maintenance have become indispensable.

Progress in IT can be found even in the construction equipment used in severe environments. Computers for on-site maintenance have become indispensable.

From the driver's seat, the operator can immediately grasp the current status of work progress because the TOUGHBOOK is able to display the elevation and, color coded on a map of the site, the number of compaction passes. Meanwhile, via the wireless LAN, the same screens can be viewed at the site office.

 

Mr. Nagata says that the installation of the system has transformed the way the site looks and how the work is done: "There's no longer any need to stake out the site. Now, guided by satellite, bulldozers can get on with spreading, which improves efficiency. And, since accurate elevation and distribution is displayed, no-one has to be on the ground checking the thickness of the layers. Because there is no need for surveyors to be out among the construction equipment taking measurements, I think that the work has been made safer. At the same time, quality is improved because we can avoid too little or too much compaction with vibratory rollers." (Mr. Nagata)

In the urgent adoption of IT in the construction industry, TOUGHBOOK raises hopes

The application of IT to construction promises to resolve a number of critical issues, including needs relating to quality, cost, safety, and the environment. Another benefit regards accountability: on public works projects, it is easier to produce reports and comply with requests for information.

"Because details are recorded while the work is in progress, anyone can clearly see the quality of the work and it is easy to ensure transparency." (Mr. Komoda)

Moreover, in an aging construction industry that finds it hard to recruit committed young people, there has been a concern over passing on skills to the next generation. This has brought a pressing need to create an environment in which high-quality work can be done without dependence on highly-skilled, seasoned operators.

Mr. Komoda explained the importance of ICT: "I’m convinced that the adoption of ICT in construction and other new methods to improve operational efficiency will be the factors that decide which construction companies will survive."

Operating on-site at the front-line of the construction industry, as well as doing the job with greater toughness and higher performance, the TOUGHBOOK is a tool that anyone can easily use. People confidently expect it to open the way for the next wave of advances.

Customers
Tokai Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Address
Head Office: 68 Aza Taira Higashi, Kusama-cho, Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture
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