AROUND THE NETWORK: Shimizu Smart Site Brings Together People and Robots to Improve Productivity on Job Sites

BuiltWorlds member Shimizu Corporation recently developed Shimizu Smart Site, a next-generation production system for performing construction work through human collaboration with autonomous robots that are equipped with the latest technology. This was achieved through the use of information-oriented construction, with BIM (Building Information Modeling) as the core of the system. This system was developed to improve productivity, reduce hard and repetitive work, and increase the efficiency of inspections and management tasks at construction sites. The construction sites where the individual robots and construction machinery that are part of Shimizu Smart Site will be used have already been decided. Shimizu will begin construction on a high-rise building that will use the complete system in the Kansai area early next year. The goal is to achieve a 70% or greater reduction in labor in construction tasks performed by the robots through completion.

Hiring new workers and improving productivity is an urgent issue due to concerns over the large number of skilled workers retiring.  Improving productivity is key to improving wages, expanding the number of days off, and other improvements in work conditions. Shimizu recognizes this trend and the needs to be a leader in the construction industry on the information-oriented construction, developed Shimizu Smart Site system, and worked to develop and manufacture the autonomous robots that make up the system.

The autonomous robots and construction machinery that make up the Shimizu Smart Site system include: the Exter, a horizontal telescopic crane that has an expandable and retractable boom to adjust to the working radius; Robo-Welder, a column-welding robot that operates a welding torch; Robo-Buddy, a multipurpose robot that handles construction work for ceilings and floors with its two arms; and four main types of horizontal and vertical conveyor robots with Robo-Carrier as the main robot. Each type of robot employs AI or IoT to move around the job site while maintaining an awareness of its own positioning, recognize the work to be performed and perform it independently based on task instructions sent from the integrated control system operated via a tablet device. The operational status and task results of each robot are logged and collected in the integrated control system in real time, and can be confirmed via the tablet screen at any time.

After the construction work on the foundation is completed at a site employing Shimizu Smart Site, an all-weather cover is installed to provide a lightweight shelter for the building against all kinds of weather. Exter, which is located beneath the cover, then lowers the columns and beams of the steel frame into position sequentially and Robo-Welder welds the columns to complete the framework. Robo-Buddy executes the final stage of finishing the floors and ceilings from the lower floors upward. After Robo-Carrier and other horizontal and vertical conveyor robots transport the materials that have been delivered to the job site to their temporary staging areas at night, they then transport them to the location where Robo-Buddy will perform the work.

When Shimizu Smart Site is used to build a 30 story building with a standard floor area of 3,000 m2, the following labor savings (reduction) are estimated at a 75% reduction in lifting and transport work, 2,500 workers; a 75% reduction in interior finish work, 2,100 workers; and a 70% reduction in column welding, 1,150 workers, for a total labor reduction of nearly 6,000 workers. The labor-savings enable full depreciation of the individual robots and construction machinery to be paid for after use at two to three job sites.

Shimizu will strive to improve productivity in the future by using the entire Shimizu Smart Site system and by using individual elements of the system, with the goal of preparing for future labor shortages and creating more attractive job sites.

We will be taking “A Look Inside Shimizu’s State-of-the-Art Robotics Lab” with Shimizu’s own Shuntaro Kano and Masohiro Indo at our upcoming Venture West Conference in San Francisco, CA on March 20-22, 2023. BuiltWorlds Venture Conference has been the world’s premier conference focused on venture investing in construction and built environment-related emerging technology. Leading fund investors, strategic investors, and startups gather each year to take the pulse of the industry’s startup ecosystem at the BuiltWorlds Venture Conference. Hope to see you there!




BuiltWorlds “Around the Network” Briefings offer BuiltWorlds Members an opportunity to keep the Community informed of their own initiatives, resource offerings, and other things they are excited to share about or collaborate around. We generally pull these posts as “highlights” from Member Company PagesInnovation Exchange Posts, and other places our members share with us what they are up to.


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