Karsten Elles, Business Development Manager, Komatsu Europe International N.V. in an interview with LECTURA Press
9 November 2018
Komatsu presented the PC210LCi-11 with iMC at last years’ CeBit 2017. Intelligent construction machines are already established machines in countries like Japan. How is the European market reacting to intelligent construction machines?
Intelligent machines like the Komatsu PC210LCi-11 excavator or the Komatsu dozers D37PXi-24, D51PXi-24, D61PXi-24, D65PXi-18 as well as the larger D85PXi-18 and D155AXi-8 crawler dozer are construction machines equipped with our Komatsu intelligent Machine Control (iMC) concept. Overall we have received very positive feedback from all our European customers. There are over 600 machines operating in the field at the moment. An increasing number of construction companies are adjusting to the idea of intelligent construction machines. Integrating this kind of technology into the everyday workflow on site can be a challenge and each company has to train its employees individually and appropriately. All in all we have to say that we are pleased with the recent developments and interest in iMC machines coming from all over Europe.
"Digital Construction": Komatsu is considered as one of the pioneers in Japan. Is this a topic we need to adjust to in Europe as well?
First of all we need to draw a clean line between intelligent construction machines and the concept of digital construction. Digital construction is the use and application of digital tools to improve the process of delivering and operating the built environment. It is also a completely different topic in Europe than it is in Japan. Although we live in an industrial area similar to Japan, the scope of the demographic change in Japan is far more advanced than it is in Europe. When we take a look at Germany for example, we can see demographic changes to a certain extent. One change that is affecting the construction industry significantly is the lack of qualified experts in the field. The top ten bottleneck academic professions in Germany in 2017 consisted of Civil engineers, roadwork engineers and surveying engineers. In addition to that many construction companies show a lot of potential development when it comes to the overall productivity. The demographic change is also affecting authorities and there are simply not enough public officials which resulted in an immense investment backlog in Governmental Construction Projects. In my opinion, the logical consequence can only be efficient, "intelligent" construction. Triggered by even more serious conditions in Japan, Komatsu launched the "Smart Construction" project in 2015. The majority of Japanese construction companies consists of 10 employees or less. To work more efficiently, these small businesses need to be supported to start, to enhance their work efficiency. With Komatsu Smart Construction the Users are given the ability to digitize the entire construction site process - from local surveying to construction planning. All processes can be digitally implemented.
The Komatsu Smart Construction solution is a series of Software applications built upon an open platform provided by Landlog, these applications provide support to the customer at all stages of the construction process – operational planning, fleet size optimization, construction management and final inspection. The application of the Smart Construction solution brings true Digital Transformation to the earthmoving process.
Is this evolution of the construction industry relevant for Europe as well?
The key impulse in Japan came from the Japanese Government. Government officials understood the importance of digital concepts as a solution for problems caused by demographic change and the absence of skilled professionals. In Japan the Komatsu Smart Construction concept was so successful that thousands of construction sites are being handled with digital construction systems. In 2016, the Japanese Government declared intelligent construction mandatory for construction projects of a certain size. We have not quite reached that point in Germany yet. There has been an official commitment of the German Government to the use and integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM) into infrastructure projects. The focus of BIM systems is on total transparency and connectivity and is considered as a shared knowledge resource for information such as models, parameters etc. The step-by-step plan, however, leaves out who exactly will be providing these models, parameters and ensure the overall transparency.
With reference to the upcoming fairs I can say that we are in preparation of an interesting presentation for the next bauma 2019 in Munich. Our stand place is now in the new Hall C6 (Southern side) and direct in front of the Hall is also our live demo area and outside presentation. It is for sure that one of the subjects for this bauma will be “Smart Construction”. We are looking forward to meet all interested visitors and customers to show actual news during the bauma.
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Source: LECTURA GmbH Verlag