IoT System for Tunnel Construction
The Zenitaka Corporation ('Zenitaka') has two major business areas: its architectural business focuses on structures such as government buildings, office buildings, and commercial facilities, while its civil engineering business is targeted at structures such as tunnels, bridges and dams. Within these areas, there presented two issues that have always persisted in regard to the construction of mountain tunnels. These issues are 'improving safety" and "reducing energy consumption". Mountain tunnels construction requires a massive amount of electricity. This is because there are many kinds of electrical equipment being used day and night, including construction machinery, construction lighting, and ventilating fan. Despite this, the amount of power consumption is generally not tightly managed. In many cases, the exact amount of power consumption is only ascertained when the bill from the power company becomes available. Sometimes, corporations install demand-monitoring equipment to help curb the maximum power demanded. However, even in these cases, the devices only allow the total volume of power consumption to be ascertained, or they may issue warnings to prevent the contracted volume of power from being exceeded. In order to tackle the issue of reducing power consumption, it was first necessary to obtain an accurate breakdown of how much power was being used in each particular area. In other words, we needed to be able to visualize the amount of power being consumed. Safety, was also not being managed very rigorously. Even now, tunnel construction sites often use a 'name label' system for managing entry into the work site. Specifically, red labels with white reverse sides that bear the workers' names on both sides are displayed at the tunnel work site entrance. The workers themselves then flip the name label to the appropriate side when entering or exiting from the work site to indicate whether or not they are working inside the tunnel at any given time. If a worker forgets to flip his or her name label when entering or exiting from the tunnel, management cannot be performed effectively. In order to tackle the challenges mentioned above, Zenitaka decided to build a system that could improve the safety of tunnel construction as well as reduce the amount of power consumed. In other words, this new system would facilitate a clear picture of which workers were working in each location at the mountain tunnel construction site, as well as which processes were being carried out at those respective locations at any given time. The system would maintain the safety of all workers while also carefully controlling the electrical equipment to reduce unnecessary power consumption. Having decided on the concept, our next concern was whether there existed any kind of robust hardware that would not break down at the construction work site, that could move freely in response to changes in the working environment, and that could accurately detect workers and vehicles using radio frequency identification (RFID). Given that this system would involve many components that were new to Zenitaka, we decided to enlist the cooperation of E.I.Sol Co., Ltd. ('E.I.Sol') as our joint development partner, as they had provided us with a highly practical proposal.