Dam built by robots? Japan's Obayashi tests it out
Nikkei -- Jul 24
Japanese contractor Obayashi has started to build a dam almost entirely with robots, addressing the industry's labor shortage and aging workforce.

The site of the trial project is a concrete dam in Mie Prefecture, on the southeast coast of Japan's main island. The 84-meter-high structure is slated for completion in March 2023.

Obayashi has developed automated equipment to stack concrete layers to form a dam. To further streamline the process, a plant has been built near the site to mix sand and gravel with cement to make concrete.

Building a dam requires knowledge and skill developed through years of experience. Obayashi's automated system is expected to be a game-changer in dam construction, as well as in other applications.

"By transferring expert techniques to machines, we're able to analyze what was once implicit knowledge," said Akira Naito, head of Obayashi's dam technology unit.

Every process for constructing the 334-meter-wide dam will involve some form of automation. That includes the initial work of establishing the foundation, and pouring concrete to form the body.

The dam's body is built in layers by pouring concrete into 15-meter square partitions. Tower cranes that pour the concrete are controlled remotely by office computers, which also monitor the positioning of the partitions and the progress of construction.

Humans will man the cranes for safety reasons, but the machines are self-operating.

Building a dam is an intricate endeavor that requires all crevices to be sealed to prevent breaches. Concrete surfaces need to be processed so they are tightly stacked on one another.

Layers that are uneven are usually brushed down by human professionals until they are flat. Obayashi has developed machines that handle the brushing. The frequency of the cyclical brushing and the pressure on the surface are automatically controlled.

As poured concrete builds up, the forms used to give it structure need to be raised to keep unset concrete from leaking out. Normally, multiple skilled workers in heavy machinery operate in tandem to gradually lift the forms, calling out to each other to coordinate their movements.

Obayashi has developed a robot to handle this task, allowing for humans to be cut out of the picture entirely.

News source: Nikkei
Feb 27
Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it will put on sale in the spring its hydrogen-powered fuel cell system, which could be used by train and ship operators as well as power companies. (Japan Times)
Feb 26
On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the benchmark Nikkei Average briefly dropped by more than 1,000 points at one time on Friday from the previous day's close. (NHK)
Feb 26
A chip shortage is biting at Japan's big carmakers. (Reuters)
Feb 26
Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp. decided Thursday to withdraw from the Vinh Tan 3 coal-fired power plant project in Vietnam amid growing international concern about climate change, Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Feb 25
An Istanbul court on Wednesday sentenced three Turks to four years and two months in prison for helping smuggle former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn in a musical instrument case to Lebanon from Japan. (yahoo.com)
Feb 25
Nippon Steel’s announcement is the latest example of the challenges faced by the steel industry in developed economies: overcapacity and environmental regulations. (yahoo.com)
Feb 25
Suzuki Motor Corp. Chairman Osamu Suzuki will retire after leading the Japanese automaker for more than 40 years and making it into a global player with an overwhelming dominance in the Indian car market, the firm said Wednesday. (Japan Times)
Feb 25
It’s no secret that the best Japanese whisky can be hard to find – even in Japan. Despite all the limited-edition bottles and the re-releases of old single malts, the good stuff is in chronically short supply. In fact, there’s even less Japanese-made whisky out there than you think. (timeout.com)
Feb 25
Since 1999, the Bank of Japan has done virtually everything imaginable to defeat deflation. It pumped untold trillions of dollars of liquidity into markets, cornered government bond trading, hoarded stocks and pushed interest rates negative. (forbes.com)
Feb 25
Japan's SG Holdings, operator of the Sagawa Express courier service, looks to switch all of its roughly 7,000 minicars to electric models by 2030 with the goal of reducing carbon emissions more than 10%. (Nikkei)
Feb 25
If you ever wondered why are Japanese businesses so resilient, well the answer is a little bit complicated but it’s also simple. (newsonjapan.com)
Feb 23
"Johatsu" means "Evaporated People" and it is the term the Japanese use for when people disappear without a trace. (Brilliant News)
Feb 22
Komatsu, Japan's top construction equipment maker, plans to develop hydrogen power as an alternative to diesel for heavy-duty mining dump trucks, in a first for the industry, Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Feb 22
Coronavirus vaccine rollouts have begun worldwide, raising hopes that the global economy can start to reopen. (Nikkei)
Feb 22
Twelve major Japanese companies have established a policy of ceasing business deals with Chinese companies found to benefit from the forced labor of the Muslim Uyghur minority in China's far-western Xinjiang region, a Kyodo News investigation showed Sunday. (Kyodo)
Feb 20
Japan's government has downgraded its assessment of the economy for the first time in 10 months, saying a state of emergency for the coronavirus has hit spending. (NHK)
Feb 19
The coronavirus pandemic has encouraged more cash-loving Japanese to move away from banknotes and coins, giving a boost for banks in their drive toward digitalization, the industry’s lobby group chief said. (Japan Times)
Feb 18
Officials at one of Japan's major oil refiners say they are preparing to manufacture and sell an electric vehicle. (NHK)
Feb 18
A former executive director of Amnesty International Japan has sued the human rights organization for Y5 million ($47,500), claiming unfair dismissal after he was diagnosed with depression that stemmed from being forced to give reports in Japanese, sources familiar with the case said Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Feb 17
Toyota Motor Corp is temporarily suspending vehicle production on 14 lines at nine group factories in Japan due to an earthquake that hit Japan's northeast last Saturday. (Japan Today)