3 innovations with infrastructure DX
Promoting ICT Construction Stage 2
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has positioned 2023 as a “breakthrough year” for DX in the infrastructure field, aiming for the “next stage” through the full utilization of ICT, as well as starting to apply BIM/CIM principles in projects directly under its control. Accelerating transformation through formation (DX). We asked Mikio Yoshioka, Chief Technical Officer of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism about the future direction of DX in the infrastructure field and the future of the construction industry that we should aim for.
What is the direction of the next stage of Infrastructure DX?
With a declining population, the construction industry, which supports people's lives through infrastructure development, maintenance and management, and disaster response, has become indispensable for improving productivity and reforming work styles through DX. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism launched i-Construction in 2016 with the aim of improving productivity. DX” is being developed.
In March 2010, we formulated the “DX Action Plan for the Infrastructure Sector,” and in April of this year, we presented the outline for the second version of the action plan. We will strengthen the three reforms of "how to create infrastructure," "how to use infrastructure," and "how to utilize data" in a comprehensive and cross-organizational manner.
For this reason, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism newly appointed a Counselor in charge of innovation in the Minister's Secretariat in April. The purpose is to unify the three fields of civil engineering, machinery, and information and communication, and to strengthen cross-departmental cooperation. We will work together as a team so that the infrastructure field will be chosen by young people as an attractive industry, and that we can make greater contributions to socioeconomic activities and people's lives by utilizing the data obtained from infrastructure.
ICT construction shows 3 stages
The introduction of ICT construction has been expanded for construction under direct control, but in recent years, the introduction has also increased for construction by local governments. On the other hand, some companies have not yet implemented it, so we would like to reorganize it into three stages and accelerate our efforts.
Stage 1 uses ICT for each type of work, such as earthwork and slope work, to streamline work. In stage 2, we will work on ICT construction throughout the construction and analyze construction data to improve the efficiency of the entire construction. Utilizing IoT and digital twins, we aim to improve the efficiency of real-time construction management, remote attendance, consultation, etc. In Stage 3, the efficiency of the entire site (multiple construction works at the same site) will be realized, and construction will be automated and remote at the optimized site. There are also cases where it has been introduced at large-scale sites such as dams.
In fiscal 2011, we would like to continue with stage 1 efforts aimed at dissemination to the small and medium-sized construction industry, and gradually move up to stage 2. Our policy is to develop Stage 3 for pioneering projects.
The point of applying BIM/CIM principles from April
Creating a 3D model is important, but how you use it is more important. In particular, in order to connect data with surveying, design, construction, and maintenance, we have also started a new system of data sharing (DS) for information sharing among ordering parties. To make it possible for even inexperienced people to work on it, we have visualized the completed shape of the structure in a 3D model and divided it into "obligatory items" for sharing information with related parties and "recommended items" for more advanced use.
Young people are good at digital technology, and we hope that the know-how and knowledge of experts will be preserved in data and fused with the digital technology of young people, which will contribute to the development of the construction industry as a whole. I would like to change the way of working for the ordering person and promote efficiency and productivity improvement.
What do you expect from CSPI-EXPO, the largest construction exhibition in Japan?
Developments and innovations in construction machinery and information and communication technology are accelerating at an unprecedented rate. I have heard that at this year's CSPI-EXPO, there will be exhibits from a wide range of fields and industries, including construction machinery, surveying equipment, various drones, AI tools and sensor systems.
Originally, it is necessary to access one by one to see the target product, but at CSPI-EXPO, cutting-edge technologies and services are available under one roof. It provides an opportunity to directly see and experience the latest technologies and services, and creates lively exchanges between people inside and outside the industry.
Once you meet the person in charge, it will be easier to understand when you ask them to explain remotely. At the venue, not only technology and products, but also new synergies are born because you can meet people with the same purpose. As a result, infrastructure DX will accelerate, and we expect that it will lead to further sophistication of construction technology and the promotion of a wider range of technological development.
What is your outlook for the Japanese construction industry?
The technologies surrounding the construction industry, such as construction machinery and information communication, are evolving at a rapid pace. In April 2010, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism formulated the 5th MLIT Technology Basic Plan, which indicates future technology policies. Since a long-term perspective is effective for research and development of technology, it is characterized by envisioning the future 20 to 30 years ahead and listening to the opinions of students and university professors.
In this context, we will promote innovation by envisioning remote and automated completion inspections, rationalization of design and construction using giant 3D printers, fully unmanned construction sites, process and safety control using AI, and remote robot operations. In order to achieve such a future vision, it is effective to think of "forecasting", which predicts the future from the present as a starting point, and "backcasting," which considers solutions by working backwards from the future goals. It will be necessary to interact with these two ways of thinking to proceed with measures.
President Kennedy of the United States proceeded with the Apollo program, the first human spaceflight program, in about 10 years. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is also promoting highly difficult initiatives such as space construction innovation projects. While aiming for high goals with backcasting thinking, I would like to raise the overall level through forecasting, and try new technologies to improve productivity.