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User Introduction Vol. 73
EAZET Sales Dept., Foundation Systems Div.,
Asahi Kasei Construction Materials Corporation
To Precede in Pile Construction Having Properties of Low Noise, Low Vibration, and No Surplus Soil Corresponding to Narrow Sites 3D and VR to Be Applied to Explain EAZET Construction Method: A Rotational Pile Construction Method with a Small Caliber Steel Pipe

Introduced in this issue is "Asahi Kasei Construction Materials Corporation", one of the six core operating companies that constitute Asahi Kasei Group. The company has cultivated the domain original as a construction-materials manufacturer, demonstrating the special characteristic of the group which is proud of accumulation of abundant technologies in the field of inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry. This article especially focuses on EAZET Sales Department, Foundation Systems Division, taking charge of promoting the construction method that covers pile construction in urban areas restricted by many conditions, etc., which was developed before the rest of the industry.

In the Sales Dept., the Forum 8's general-purpose software "Pile foundation design" was brought in at the beginning as a tool to support design proposals of the "EAZET Construction Method" in a civil engineering field. Through the use of the software, an exclusive design tool for the "EAZET Construction Method" has been developed by the Forum 8 by customizing it. By now, the Department has also adopted "UC-win/Road", 3D real-time VR (virtual reality) software of Forum 8 with the aim of visually expressing advantages of the Method in an environmental aspect and so on, and explaining them to various potential customers in an intelligible form.

We interviewed Mr. Tomoki Nakano and Mr. Hiroki Kobashi, who are both Managers of the Dept and get involved in introducing and customizing these tools while taking charge of civil engineering-related customers of the EAZET Method.

 Harnessing Organizational Power, Technological Development and National Expansion Are Their Strong Points  
Transformed to a holding company / constituent corporations configuration in 2003, the Asahi Kasei Group consists of 6 core operating companies (Asahi Kasei Chemicals, Asahi Kasei Homes, Asahi Kasei Pharma, Asahi Kasei Fibers, Asahi Kasei EMD, and Asahi Kasei Construction Materials) and Asahi Kasei Corporation which is a 100% shareholder of these operating companies. They are so organized that while each of the 6 core units operates independently, the holding company conducts strategy planning, optimizes resources, and supervises management of the whole group, as well as strives for creation of new business projects that merge the mutual business domains of the operating companies together.

  Among them, Asahi Kasei Construction Materials was founded in 1976. Since then, the company has been expanding its business, mainly in fabrication and sales of construction materials. Efforts are made to develop various products and construction technologies in the fields including ALC (autoclaved lightweight concrete), housing materials, steel frame structural materials, foundation piles, and heat insulation.

Besides its headquaters in Tokyo, the company consists of 8 offices and 5 manufacture plants located nationwide. In addition, there are some affiliated companies, such as Asahi Kasei Extech Corp. and Asahi Kasei Foundation Systems Corp., with about 1,000 employees stationed in all. Foundation Systems Div., a division of the company, has grown originally with development and manufacture of PHC (prestressed high strength concrete) piles as its core. Although manufacture of concrete piles was discontinued, the development of various construction methods using concrete piles still goes on today.  On the other hand, they launched sales of "EAZET", a steel-pipe pile with a blade in 1994. In the domestic industry which tends to be clearly separated between concrete piles and steel-pipe piles, the Company has established its stable position as one of the few comprehensive pile manufacturers dealing with both.
From the left: Mr. Minoru Takagi, Mr. Tomoki Nakano, Mr. Yasuyuki Kawada, Ms. Yukako Kuwano, Mr. Hiroki Kobashi

"Recently, in addition to concrete or steel-pipe piles, ground improvement-related items have also begun to appear. We are promoting technical development in these three fields. It is one of our advantages to have an organization that enables nationwide development." Says Mr. Tomoki Nakano, describing part of the characteristics of the Division.
For example, as far as "EAZET" is concerned, the sales system of the construction method organized at the same time with its release has been so expanded as to establish EAZET sales bases at 7 places, namely in Tokyo, Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka now. Furthermore, many sales / construction shops support its unique marketing / construction organization covering the whole country. Moreover, according to a field of application, two different menus for architectural and civil engineering types are provided. The team introduced here which takes charge of civil engineering works in this EAZET Sales Dept. is organized by 5 members under Mr. Yasuyuki Kawada, Chief Manager in charge of civil engineering / earthquake-proof and quake-absorbing.

  EAZET Construction Method:  Piles Spreading its Foot from House Exclusive to Architecture and Civil Engineering
Examples of EAZET Construction Method

Construction under an overpass
Construction producing no surplus soil Incorporating barrier-free design into a footbridge
Reflecting a rise in environmental consciousness, there is a tendency to require a more excellent construction method in an environmental aspect in civil engineering and architecture works. Therefore, about pile construction, not only the basic performance as a pile including its bearing capacity, but also the environmental solutions such as down-sizing to adapt to the limited work spaces in urban areas or minimizing surplus soils produced at the site have been considered as great challenges. 

Then, it is EAZET Construction Method, which is positioned as a flagship item by Asahi Kasei Construction Materials itself, who stands for a full-line pile manufacturer to meet such needs. 

"EAZET Construction Method" is a rotational pile construction method; a spiral blade of the size equivalent to 1.87 to 3.00 times of the diameter of a steel pipe is equipped at the end of a steel-pipe pile, and the steel pipe is made to intrude into the ground while rotating to act as a bearing pile. Though the steel pipe to be used is as small as 114.3mm- 355.6mm in diameter, it realizes high bearing capacity and a drawing-out performance compared with the diameter of a steel pipe owing to the effect of the blade at the end. 
Moreover, as a pile joint, "CC Joint", an originally developed mechanical joint was adopted in addition to the usual weld joint. The connection time needed for the traditional method with welding work was reduced substantially. Also, it enabled stable pile connection without being influenced by the weather or the skill of a welder.  

Furthermore, since a small special-purpose construction machine is used in construction works, pile construction at narrow sites where it was difficult to implement construction, or sites with sky restrictions can also be carried out with low noise, low vibration, and no earth removal. In addition, construction machines with high-performance and diverse features deployed all over the country, along with an abundant variation of pile materials will result in providing optimal solutions depending on construction conditions and required performance that differ from site to site. 

Design calculation of EAZET
(Developed through UC-win/UC-1 development-on-commission service)

Main screen of EAZET
"Although this construction method of sinking a steel-pipe pile while rotating without producing surplus soil has become common at present, our company was the first to commercialize the product." 

Originally, a new pile method had been sought for with which high bearing capacity could be gained in a short period of time for Hebel House of Asahi Kasei Homes, which aimed at creating a long-life house. And ideas were accumulated such as of constructing small steel pipes with a small machine in order to work at narrow site areas for urban-style houses, resulting into development of exclusive piles for houses. 

Calculation on stability screen
Subsequently, the product acquired the Minister of Construction qualification for the first time in 1994, partly because it was expected to bring about great effect not only on the exclusive pile for Hebel House but also on general architecture. It was followed by full-scale sale for the general market, says Mr. Tomoki Nakano.

Then, other steel-pipe manufacturers also increased provision of rotational steel-pipe piles. While replacing cast-in-situ piles or ready-made piles etc., it is said that because of its easy handling, it has a tendency to be incorporated into a field where piles would not be used. 
There were voices from the customers, asking if it is possible to use the method at the sites for civil engineering structures, as it is not only the sites of architecture but also many sites of civil engineering structures that have restrictions. In response to those demands, a technical-review certificate of Japan Institute of Construction Engineering was acquired in March 2007 in order to have the method evaluated professionally first of all. Based on the use record in the field of architecture for ten years, the "EAZET Construction Method" started its new development as a pile construction method for civil engineering structures, too.  
For the time being, it is assumed to apply to comparatively small-scale structures among a variety of civil engineering structures, considering the characteristics of the construction method itself. It is expected to be effective in incorporating barrier-free design in footbridges and pedestrian decks, facilities in a railway station, plants, bridge structures, highway retaining walls, and towers, etc. 

 Expanding "EAZET Construction Method" for Civil Engineering Works with Free Use of Support Tools   VR simulation of EAZET Construction
Method by UC-win/Road
"Since 'Design Manual for Pile Foundation' was revised, we purchased a software product corresponding to it, and that was the beginning," says Mr. Hiroki Kobashi.

Revised for the first time after 14 years, "Design Manual for Pile Foundation" (revised edition of 2006 fiscal year) was published in early 2007. Then, after examining some software products for pile foundation design that reflect the revision, they decided to introduce Forum 8's "Pile foundation design" because it was easy to use and was used by most of the construction consultants who were their users, and for other reasons, as Mr. Hiroki Kobashi recalls the situation that has led to a series of relationship. They purchased this general-purpose software program in March 2007. Since then, in the course of using it, a need arose to customize the program for "EAZET" which is a special pile. Forum 8 showed a response to this need. The customized version was released in May.

In addition to evaluating the customized version, a relationship of trust has been established through such a process.  In such a situation, the new potential that "UC-win/Road" was likely to bring about also attracted attention, says Mr. Tomoki Nakano. In other words, as the company was planning to roll out EAZET Construction Method in a civil engineering field on a full-scale basis by emphasizing its difference from conventional methods, along with its superiority in an environmental aspect, UC-win/Road was expected to work as a tool to explain the Method with a certain effect missing in traditional approaches on a paper basis.
"While there are two or more selections of a pile construction method, the actual construction circumstance can be expressed with reality and in three dimensions with UC-win/Road. By applying EAZET Construction Method there and showing it as motion pictures, it was considered that an intelligible proposal to a wide range of people concerned could be made."
"EAZET Construction Method" itself has just marked its first step to become known in a civil engineering field. But tendencies towards antiseismic reinforcement, >barrier-free design, or environmental-oriented design can act in favor of the Method. Consequently, they are willing to lead to concrete business opportunities by utilizing new 3D and VR as a kick-starter.
We are most grateful to the people concerned for their cooperation with this interview in spite of their busy schedule.