General contractors are changing the way construction is done. Shimizu Corporation has introduced robots for on-site work in building construction. Shimizu's innovation drivers, Shuntaro Kano & Masahiro Indo, will be sharing some of their robotic technology with competitors & colleagues alike at Venture West as this global construction leader looks to collaborate and partner as it takes on the challenges surrounding the chronic labor shortage.
The face of the industry remains inward-looking. General contractors have been stubborn to the adoption of new technology, but the entry of new tech players has begun to restructure the sector, and legacy leaders are no longer able to sit idle as the world around them advances. New construction disruptors have forced the ENR 400 to expand previously underfunded business divisions with a vitalized focus on innovative efforts as legacy builders' fear of obsolescence grows.
Shimizu aims to become a “digital general contractor” that utilizes basic software (OS) that centrally manages building facilities -- unlocking the entire construction value chain through building lifecycle management.
People are calling for work style reform. Improving productivity at construction sites requires structural changes, process changes, and machine tools.
These include the use of machines, the separation of transport and work, and the use of information & communication technology (ICT) in infrastructure/construction management.
Unlike other industries, robots in construction cannot be installed on a factory production line and operated in a single coordinate system and in a stable environment. The perpetually changing position of robots on a messy construction site adds a layer of nuanced challenges that Shimizu is facing head-on.
Since the roof cannot be placed on the roof, we have developed a crane that can extend and retract horizontally, and Shimizu is introducing autonomous robots for material transportation, welding, ceiling, and floor construction, etc -- Autonomy means the ability to work without human intervention by recognizing and assessing the positions of objects through technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) and sensors.
"In thinking about the future of the construction industry, we repeatedly exchanged opinions with construction managers at construction sites and decided to take on the challenge of creating machines that assist work as well as robots that can be entrusted with work."
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Meet the Panel
Masahiro Indo - Research Fellow, Institute of Technology
Former Senior Managing Officer, leading robotics & ICT development at Shimizu's Construction Tech division. Masahiro has worked with Shimizu since 1979 and has been working as a Research Fellow at Shimizu's Institute of Technology since 2022, continuing to hone the future workforce's innovative expertise.
Shuntaro Kano - General Manager Silicon Valley Office
Leads Shimizu‘s Business Development in the Bay area.
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