Users Report / Vol.139
DX Promotion Group, Technology Division,
Environmental Development Department

Focusing on Introduction of ICT and Development of New Technology That Promptly Meets the Needs of Job Sites
Application of UC-win/Road to Traffic Congestion Simulation Reflecting Actual Roads and Traffic Flow

Rather than developing something from scratch, we'll work with manufacturers to take advantage of the good things that are out there and use them to quickly achieve our goals. We also try to meet the needs of the job sites by combining one good thing with another.

Akinori Fujimori, General Manager of Technology Division, Environmental Development Department, OKUMURA ENGINEERING CORPORATION, describes one aspect of the company's basic approach to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) as above. In this sense, he positions the case described below as a typical example of such an approach. He says that they are actively gathering related information and trying out what they think is "good" so that they can make better use of it.

Relating to this, Mr. Hiroyuki Kasaya, Leader (Manager) of DX Promotion Group of the Division, particularly selects various technologies based on their own knowledge and experience. He mentions his thought about the stance to create optimal solutions in collaboration with the manufacturers of the relevant technologies.

On the other hand, Mr. Koichi Narahara, manager of the same group, based on his own experience cultivated in his previous job, has focused on the similarity of management systems in the construction industry, which is mainly engaged in public works projects with mostly common clients, contrary to the manufacturing industry, where management systems and ICT vary from factory to factory. He believes that the benefits of ICT can be drawn out even more effectively if commercially available tools such as packaged software are used effectively, including the combination of these tools.

The user introduced here is "DX Promotion Group", which focuses on ICT in Technology Division, Environmental Development Department, OKUMURA ENGINEERING CORPORATION. Technology Division has been using design software products of the UC-1 Series for many years. In late 2021, when the company received an order for a public works project that required traffic congestion simulation, it introduced the Three-dimensional Real-time VR Software "UC-win/Road". This has led to the development of solutions for this project, which is dealt with mainly by the same group.

DX Promotion Group, Technology Division, Environmental Development Department,
Location: Minato-ku, Osaka
Business :
On-site support through the introduction of i-Construction and BIM/CIM

 Responding to the Need to Introduce ICT and DX in Civil Engineering Works, Establishing a Specialized Group in the Technology Division

OKUMURA ENGINEERING CORPORATION was founded in 1920 as Okumura Shoten (Okumura Firm: established in 1959 under the current company name). Over the past 100 years, the company has expanded its business fields through a series of organizational restructuring. The company now consists of three departments: 1) Environmental Development Department, which handles various types of civil engineering and construction works; 2) LG (Life & Gas) Department, which handles gas-related works and pavement restoration works; and 3) the Product Department, which handles manufacture and sales of construction materials and recycling business. Under the head office (Minato-ku, Osaka), the company has five branches in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Kobe and Hiroshima, ten sales offices, four business offices, three factories and two asphalt mixture manufacturing facilities. More than 860 employees are working in all of them (all figures are as of August 2022).

"Our main focus is on civil engineering works centering on public works, and we have been working on the issue of how much we can respond to the growing demand from clients for the introduction of ICT and DX (digital transformation)."

Against this backdrop, Technology Division, which is primarily responsible for providing on-site support through development and introduction of new technologies in Environmental Development Department, has strengthened its human resources in this field, for example, by hiring outside experts in electrical and information systems. Then, the Division was reorganized with the members who had been involved with support work for i-Construction within the Division from an early period. In 2021, DX Promotion Group was established as an organization specializing in ICT and DX, according to Mr. Fujimori.

Mr. Akinori Fujimori,
General Manager, Technology Division,
Environmental Development Department
Mr. Hiroyuki Kasaya, Leader (Manager),
DX Promotion Group, Technology
Division, Environmental
Development Department
Mr. Koichi Narahara, Manager,
DX Promotion Group, Technology
Division, Environmental
Development Department

The group currently consists of six engineers and focuses on supporting i-Construction and other construction works utilizing BIM/CIM (Building/ Construction Information Modeling) that have been increasing in recent years.

These efforts date back more than 20 years ago, before the spread of information-oriented construction, which is the precursor to today's i-Construction, was in full swing. At that time, the company jointly developed a bedrock cutting machine (Surface Miner) with WIRTGEN GmbH in Germany, which is applicable to the hard rock areas in Japan. Since then, through continuous improvements, the company has developed a bedrock-cutting method based on this machine with improved durability and reduced environmental impact, in addition to low noise, low vibration and low dust. In the meantime, the company has linked the bedrock-cutting machine with the automatically tracking surveying instruments that had just been developed. The company has developed a function that has something to lead to today's machine guidance on its own and has been using it on the worksites for some time. Mr. Kasaya has been playing a central role in these efforts, being the driving force behind the group that has just been established.

Of the three major business fields, the Information Development Department handles civil engineering and construction works.

 Making Full Use of UC-1 Series in On-site Support Operations of Technology Division

The company has been using various design software programs of UC-1 Series for many years.

Environmental Development Department, which handles a large number of civil engineering projects for public works, often needs to recalculate when various design conditions change in projects under construction, or to make calculations in line with actual conditions at the investigation stage of the worksite. For this reason, the DX Group leader, Mr. Kasaya, explains that they were quick to introduce design and drawing programs such as " BOX culvert design 3D bar arrangement" and " Retaining wall design 3D bar arrangement", and the reinforced concrete (RC) section calculation program " RC section calculation" from the same series.

"In addition to our DX Promotion Group, another group in charge of design calculations and reviews and provides on-site support (within the same Technology Division) also uses (these software packages)."

 Traffic Congestion Simulation Linking AI-based Traffic Measurement and UC-win/Road

"Around October 2021, the site manager asked us with regards to one of the public works projects for which we had received an order, if we could do a simulation of dump truck traffic congestion, and I remembered something."

About five months prior to that, the three of them visited the Construction & Survey Productivity Improvement EXPO (CSPI-EXPO) held in May 2021 at Makuhari Messe, where they were exposed to UC-win/Road for the first time. It was followed by an explanation with a demonstration the following month, which interested them. In particular, he focused on the possibility of realistically reproducing traffic flow, such as scenes of cars getting jammed from the driver's perspective, and the possibility of determining traffic congestion by quantifying and evaluating the traffic flow. They had already been working on the reproduction of construction sites using Mixed Reality (MR), with consideration of developing this technology for traffic simulations. In addition, since the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to measure traffic volume from videos has been becoming more widespread in recent years, they were interested in the possibilities of this technology. Manager Narahara explains that in that context they decided to introduce UC-win/Road for traffic congestion simulation in linkage with the latter.

In November of the same year, he and his team decided to purchase UC-win/Road, as well as evaluate and improve existing AI-based traffic volume measurement tools. The following December, they conducted a traffic volume survey around the actual project site and used UC-win/Road to model the local roads and traffic flow, reflecting the results of the survey. From January to February 2022, they revised the modeling, examined and reviewed the simulation patterns and quantitative evaluation methods, and explained the results to the client. In March, they developed their original method of congestion simulation to realize the following: 1) a method to quantify the number of vehicles waiting at traffic signals by analyzing the simulation logs of UC-win/Road, 2) a method to calculate the que length on the road at a traffic signal and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during idling based on the quantification results, and 3) estimation of the impact of the increase or decrease in the number of dump trucks on the number of vehicles and que length waiting at traffic signals and CO2 emissions using the above two methods. This leads to the final report based on the results.

How many minutes apart should dump trucks run to reduce the impact of increased dump trucks and trucks caused by construction on nearby residents? To address such issues, they can not only provide explanations with graphs and figures, but also visualize the conditions of traffic congestion. They can also expect to apply it to discussions.

  Source: GSI website (GSI tiles used for background)
Modeling the roads and traffic flow around the project site using UC-win/Road, an original method of simulating traffic congestion of dump trucks has been devised.

 New Development in the Use of UC-win/Road, Application of AR/MR and F8VPS Also Expected

Manager Narahara explains that the company has already conducted simulations using MR when considering installation of various types of signs in areas where traffic regulations are in place. However, he said, there were limitations in using MR on a tablet alone to achieve the realism of an actual driving scene. Thus, by using UC-win/Road for example, it may be possible to simulate in advance how signs would look like from the driver's point of view during driving, depending on the type of sign and its installation conditions. This could then be used for further discussions, according to him.

"Now that we have established a series of processes, from traffic volume measurement using AI to traffic congestion simulation using UC-win/Road, we would like to continue to develop processes horizontally like this."

In response to this, General Manager Fujimori noted that in recent years, there have been many examples of reproducing onsite situations on PCs. In consideration of introducing a browser-based web platform system of FORUM8, F8VPS, he hopes to build on this initiative to make it easier to conduct simulations on PCs as needed. He also has high expectations for further IT applications in the field, such as soil calculation based on superimposition of the current situation and design geometry using AR/MR.

On the other hand, in relation to the use of ICT, Leader Kasaya stresses that the speed will be particularly important in technology development in the course of actual business operations. Therefore, he explains that the key is an approach for selecting technologies available in the world and using them skillfully.

In this sense, Mr. Narahara points out that UC-win/Road and other commercially available software packages are becoming more highly complete and have a wider range of applications. Furthermore, he mentioned his belief that there are surprisingly many cases where it is not possible to use a single software package, but by combining different software packages, as in this case, it is possible to manage the situation.

Even more, Mr. Fujimori talks about their stance that they are always attentive to " who are in trouble where, about what" at the work site and among their clients. Whenever they find something, they search through "drawers" of their accumulated knowledge and information, and if they think something can be done, they consult with the experts in the Technology Division to find a concrete solution.
"I always try to find those needs and problems as my role."

Members of DX Promotion Group, Technology Division, Environmental
(Written by Takashi Ikeno)
(Up&Coming '22 Fall issue)