3-D real-time VR leads to value-added design and the creation of new business.
Daiichi Fukken Co.,Ltd.(DFK) is a general construction consulting firm, with its head office in Fukuoka. It has an extensive nationwide business network which focuses primarily on Tokyo and Osaka Branches.
Daiich Fukken Co.,Ltd. uses various kinds of products created by FORUM 8 Co., Ltd. Among others "UC-win/Road" is the one DFK is remarking for its capability. We had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Mr. Hideo Ogata, Director of Road Structure Department (Dorokozo-bu Bucho)who is advocating and pushing for UC-win/Road to be positively used as a key tool for creating added value as well as new business, and Mr. Kazuhisa Jinnouchi, Supervisor of Information Management Office(Johokanri-shitsu Shunin) who leads operations with UC-win/Road.
Originally having started with a surveying service as its core business, DFK is currently a multi-disciplinary consulting firm providing services including: research, planning, and design of 1) roads and tunnels 2) steel structures 3) rivers, sediment and erosion control 4) sewerage 5) urban planning, parks, landscaping and land readjustment 6) ports and harbors, fishing harbors; maintenance of infrastructures; environmental research, analysis, and assessment; geological research and analysis; construction management, GIS, and so on. The company has a staff strength of 317 , including 192 technical staff in the consulting divisions and 53 registered consulting engineers throughout the main lodgments in Fukuoka, Tokyo, Osaka, and other 18 branches and local offices in the whole country.
DFK is consolidating and shifting operations to its head office into a new building, Morooka DF Main Building at 1-7-25, Morooka, Hakata-ward, Fukuoka-city on August 1 this year. At the same time, the home office organization will be restructured and resources will also be consolidated as the new office serves to increase efficiency in business operations.
One of the main efforts regarding effective use of information technology (IT) that DFK is focusing on is 'Knowledge Management (KM) System.'
This system was established in the fiscal year of 2003, in order to reduce cost, to reduce time to search for needed information, and to create a database of the original know-hows available for the long time to come by sharing 'knowledge' within the company. Currently, there is ongoing work in the collection of past case studies, technical calculation formats, as well as its customer information.
DFK is willing to improve the system and expand information, and in future, to make the KM system 'accessible by any employee whenever and wherever it is,' when a technical staff of DFK is visiting the client's office to propose a solution, enabling him/her to instantly access the needed information through his/her notebook computer, for example.
In brief, regarding the background for focusing heavily on IT approaches, Mr. Hideo Ogata reviews that as a basis for developing various business strategic plans to survive newly emerging competitions, it was necessary for DFK not only to improve productivity and efficiency but also to meet the customer needs, linked with advanced use of IT.
"Usability of 'UC-win/Road' came into our notice as we pursued marketing-oriented concept," said Mr. Ogata.
It is desired to Provision of value-add for the design previously delivered is desired. However, what should be done to realize this desire? One of the proposed solutions,
was to use 3-D real-time VR software that would work well, to simulate the complete image of a design document and create a strong impact which distinguishes DFK from other companies.
Furthermore, its remarkable communication function with customers increases the potential of UC win/Road serving as a new distinct stand-alone service. On the other hand, when the function is used to provide added value for the client, it could draw the client's attention to bee seen as a potential service. Mr. Ogata says that this led to the possibility of realizing these multiple integrated merits of increasing added value and offering new business channels.
It is hard to understand, especially for the local interests, only by looking at floor plans and cross sections on paper as before. But if you use UC-win/Road, you can show virtual space images just similar to the reality so they can be taken just intuitively and visually. If so, there ought to be a need for utilizing the software to effectively create simulation data to be used in consensus building or the briefing process for the stakeholders. As a result, DFK reached an idea of establishing a dominant position as an advanced company first in Kyushu.
DFK purchased UC-win/Road about three years ago. Through using it many times as a tool to provide added value as stated before, DFK shaped the idea of using it for a single, independent service. In January this year, DFK produced the running simulation for a road to be newly constructed, along with road planning and designing, and delivered it to local governments. This was the first case that DFK delivered a product using UC-win/Road independently of other services.
The simulation data delivered this time was created to meet the requirements of keeping environment conditions to a minimum. Nevertheless, it is possible to see how the planned road will look like when viewed from the area 200 - 300m away from the road. In spite of a need to consider balance with cost, "more realistic representation" ought to be possible, for example, if we elaborate arrangements of trees and houses," explains Mr. Kazuhisa Jinnouchi.
One of the most remarkable functions of UC-win/Road in such usages as stated above, as Mr. Hideo Ogata mentions, is that it "enables local people to view images from their own points of view, wherever each one of them is located."
It means that in such an occasion as building consensus, it is more important that (non-professional) end users who see or use the road daily, rather than the constructor's side, can grasp what is going to be made up from their point of view.
UC-win/Road could result in a conversation as follows;
"What will it look like from my home?"
"Just a moment, please. Where do you live?"
"...I see, that's what it'll look like from there."
Another remarkable function in relation with design is that it enables aptitude evaluation of linear programming.
|Yet another benefit is its cost-effectiveness; cost to create 3-D CG data
was considerably high when created with other traditional methods, but
when such data are created with UC-win/Road, the cost can be dramatically
reduced. Spatial representations of named points can be used as value added
functions that complement the main service and the best thing is, cost
can still be kept within manageable levels.
It was explained that The Road Structure Department will focus on trading single (independent) service using UC-win/Road, to say nothing of the side as an added value of design work.
With regards to this, Mr. Kazuhisa Jinnouchi observes that, in successfully addressing the current approaches that are mainly for roads and bridges, there ought to be a chance to enhance the target areas by including such as rivers, ports and harbors, as well as urban planning, which can be addressed by other divisions within the company.
Besides, Mr. Hideo Ogata expands his horizons beyond sole provision of application data, to develop a new service for direct involvement in consensus building by acting as a coordinator or facilitator on its own.
Along with these efforts, DFK plans to focus on developing human resource as well as establishing basic organization to meet the increased needs for 3D design in the near future.
In addition, e-learning system is being introduced to the entire company network. The system is planned to be utilized to increase efficiency of employee education including personnel training for 3-D design and information security.
We would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the individuals who took time off their busy schedule for our interview.