Now that all industries are undergoing major changes, Kajima Construction Co., Ltd., which is at the top of the construction industry, is seriously promoting digitalization. Did you know that the digitization of Kajima is steadily progressing?
In fact, it is a digital advanced company. Kashima transforms the construction industry, 180 years of strength
What kind of scene do you imagine when you hear "construction site"? People in helmets sweat and carry materials ──I think there are many people who think of such a figure.
"It's becoming commonplace for self-driving bulldozers and robots to build dams and buildings. It might have been the science fiction world a decade ago, but we're trying to do that with the power of digital. Is. "
Mr. Mashita, who plans and promotes the group's digital strategy at Kajima Corporation, says so. Although the general contractor industry tends to have an old-fashioned impression, Kajima is said to be a top runner who is transforming the industry with digital technology. With the addition of Mr. Miyajima, who is from the field and is in charge of human resources, we will approach the world and charm of dynamic digital transformation (DX) that overturns that image.
Misunderstanding that "construction sites are analog". What is Kajima's "DX" against the backdrop of labor shortages?
── Thank you for your time today. I heard that Mr. Mashita is in charge of Kajima's digital strategy, but what kind of work are you doing?
Makoto: Right now, I am in the department that formulates medium- to long-term management strategies for the Kajima Group. We are thinking about what the company will look like in 5, 10, and in some cases 20 or 30 years, and the roadmap to reach it. Since joining the company, I am mainly in charge of planning and promoting the Kajima Group's digital strategy, making use of my experience in planning IT strategies and promoting IT utilization at construction sites.
Hidekuni Mashimo: General Manager, Corporate Planning Office, Secretarial Office, IT Solutions Department (IT Management)
After graduating from the Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, he joined Kajima Corporation in 1997. After he was assigned to the Multimedia Promotion Office of the Information Systems Department, he led the use of IT in the company. He was transferred to the Nagoya branch (currently the Chubu branch) in 2002 to promote IT utilization at construction sites. After moving to the IT Solutions Department, he worked in the planning and management group, and in 2006 he became the head of the site support group, promoting the use of IT at construction sites from a company-wide perspective. In 2015, he served as a director of Kajima ICT Co., Ltd. before reaching his current position.
──It may be rude to say this, but it was surprising. The construction site had an analog image ...
Immediately below: Especially recently, digitization is progressing rapidly even at construction sites. With the development of mobile computers such as the iPhone and iPad, it is an era in which drawings stored in the cloud can be viewed on the iPad. Carrying paper drawings as in the past is less common. We are also working on remote management of sites and automation of construction machinery by making full use of IoT and AI (artificial intelligence).
Miyajima: In the manufacturing industry, it's easy to see how the factories are mechanized, with belt conveyors and robot arms, and so on, but it was difficult to construct.
No two of the structures we build are the same. Since the place of construction is different every time and the blueprints are different, it was difficult to mechanize and automate, and in some respects it was a little behind the manufacturing industry. Recently, technologies such as sensing have developed rapidly, so we are strongly promoting digitalization such as mechanization and automation.
──If you make something different each time, it is difficult to standardize it, including the process. That's why it was difficult to digitize.
Makoto: Kashima's strength is to carefully create things that are full of originality. Until now, we have been supported by excellent skilled workers who have the skill, intuition and experience of craftsmen, but we are entering a situation where we cannot say so.
──What kind of problem is it?
Immediately below: Japan has entered an era of declining population and is aging rapidly. In particular, the construction industry faces a serious labor shortage. Takumi's skills, experience, and intuition will continue to be important and indispensable. That is why it is important for valuable human resources to concentrate on what humans really have to do, and to leave more and more what computers and machines can do. It is also essential to make efforts to digitally inherit the craftsmanship from where possible.
──I see. It's a big issue in Japan, not limited to the construction industry.
Directly below: Kashima announced the "Kashima Smart Production Vision" in 2018. With the goal of 2025, we are proceeding with DX construction work centered on the three concepts of "half of the work is done with robots," "half of the management is done remotely," and "all processes are digital."
──Is these new movements acceptable in the field?
Miyajima: We have a culture of actively incorporating changes, such as construction in places that could not be realized until now and development of more efficient construction methods. Also, since we are a company in the construction industry that plans and manages the entire construction, there is also an environment where it is easy to propose new things.
Building a building in a virtual space before construction ── The power of simulation to eliminate waste at construction sites
──What exactly is DX in the construction industry?
Right below: We are thinking about DX in the construction industry, referring to the advanced parts of other industries. For example, manufacturing factories are becoming more mechanized and robotized. Let's consider if there is a part where this can be applied to construction.
In the manufacturing industry, before starting production at the factory, we design the product in a computer and verify how it is made at the factory and whether it is easy to maintain after sale. It's not exactly the same, but the construction industry has made some similar efforts possible.
──How do you do that?
Immediately below: Recently, the technology to store various information in 3D drawings called BIM / CIM has been developed. By combining these with advanced technologies such as IoT, AI, and VR, it has become possible to digitally optimize planning, design, construction, and operation.
The technology that digitally reproduces the same thing as the real world is called "digital twin", but Kashima was the first in Japan to introduce digital twin in all phases of the building, from planning to operation.
──It's called a "digital twin" because you create the same thing (Twin) on a virtual (Digital).
Miyajima: For automobiles and home appliances, we can make prototypes and verify them, but it is not possible for huge buildings. Create a virtual building with a computer, simulate an earthquake, and make sure that air conditioning, water, and electricity pass properly. The image is that we will make improvements in the pre-construction stage by acquiring various data and finding issues and waste in advance.
Hiroto Miyajima: Recruiting Section, Human Resources Group, Human Resources Department
After graduating from the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University, he joined Kajima Corporation in 2013. He was assigned to the accounting group of the Chubu branch management department and experienced working in Nagoya. In 2014, he was transferred to the civil engineering group of the Chubu branch business group, and was involved in the construction of infrastructure in the Chubu area such as the Shin Tomei Expressway, dams, and waterworks. Since 2017, he has been in charge of recruiting new graduates and mid-career employees at the Human Resources Department at the head office.
──If you build a building in your computer first. The construction method will change significantly from the past.
Right below: That's right. Until now, after the construction started, it was necessary to solve various problems according to the progress of the construction. By utilizing the digital twin, problems can be solved by assuming various situations before starting construction. As a result, it is possible to reduce defects and troubles after the construction starts, and it is possible to consult with the customer at an early stage about the contents and usability of the building.
──Please wait a moment. Even though I have a blueprint, do you have any problems after the construction starts?
Miyajima: I didn't know until I worked at the site, but in the process of constructing such a large building, if I actually make the drawings three-dimensional, there may be problems that cannot be reproduced at the site.
Right below: That's right. It is now possible to use digital twin data to let customers see what it looks like after it is completed using VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality). You can also check with the feeling "Which pattern is better, A or B?"
── Amazing! This has a sense of the near future.
Miyajima: I don't think you can feel IT from the deliverables, but I think the interesting part of construction is that the way it is made has changed significantly digitally.
In the coming era, the one who controls "maintenance" will win. Town planning business started in collaboration with different industries
Directly below: Digital twins are also useful after the building is finished. You can see "how the building is used", "how much equipment and electricity are used", and "how much the probability of failure increases". Real-world data can be linked to the digital twin in the computer to reproduce it, and the subsequent situation can be simulated many times assuming various cases while changing the conditions.
── Certainly, support after building is also important, isn't it?
Immediately below: When building a building, the initial construction cost is high, so it is easy to notice that, but in reality, the cost after the building is completed is also high. We have developed "Kajima Smart Building Management" together with Microsoft Japan and venture companies with the aim of keeping costs down and allowing the building to be used conveniently for a long time.
── Is it Microsoft! I didn't have much image of partnering with such a top IT company.
Directly below: Customers are not aiming to "build a building", but to "use a building". We believe that it is in the interest of our customers to support how they are used well.
Building data such as equipment and environment information is stored in the cloud and analyzed by AI. This optimizes equipment maintenance costs, saves energy and reduces maintenance costs. We will create new value and services by combining the strengths of Kajima's hardware with the strengths of other companies. It's really exciting to create new things with people from various companies.
──The breadth of business is expanding.
Right below: That's right. That is the real thrill of DX. Kajima's DX is proceeding with two axes: digitally transforming and strengthening construction work, which Kajima has been strong in, and developing new business fields.
In developing new fields, we have recently been working on smart urban development in collaboration with Keihin Electric Express Railway, Daiwa House, Fujifilm, and various other companies. "HANEDA INNOVATION CITY (HICity)" was opened the other day near Haneda Airport, and it is attracting attention as an advanced initiative.
──Companies from various industries are participating in the HICity project.
Miyajima: I think real estate development is a business that is close to investment, with the two elements of "buying land" and "managing the finished product." The redevelopment of urban areas such as HICity has a large project scale, and companies that did not originally develop the city are also entering the business by investing in the business. Kashima is not only a construction company, but also an urban development and business management company, so I think it is a company that is easy to become a partner.
Right below: One of the keys to advancing DX is "cooperation with different industries." There are limits to what you can do on your own. New things are born because different things intersect.
──What kind of people are there in these DX-related projects? When I was listening to the story, I had the image that there were many science people.
Immediately below: In digital activities, relatively young employees in their 20s and 30s are active. At HICity, young employees proposed and created a system that three-dimensionally displays how people and vehicles move in the city. New ideas and power of young people are important for challenging new fields.
Miyajima: In the scene of promoting DX, there are many cases where young members, regardless of humanities and sciences, master the software and hardware, and DX promotion at the site or department and in-house technology are explained to customers. The importance of humanities employees who can act as a bridge is also increasing.
Immediately below: I think you shouldn't worry too much about the specialty of the university. In a world where technological innovation is fierce, I learn more after becoming a member of society than when I was a student.
Those who are active in the field of DX are those who are interested in various things and have the vitality of "let's accomplish something with other people" with an awareness of issues. The sensibility and perspective of young people are very important. Ask young people to think about things, make suggestions, and do more and more. I think it is my role to create such a place.
The "top" preparedness for digitalization is different. I've lived for 180 years by continuing to change
──The other day, Kajima Corporation was selected as the "DX Brand 2020" selected by the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. You have been evaluated as a company that has a good track record of digital utilization. What do you think is the reason?
Makoto: Kajima's "vision and business model" was highly evaluated. Even in the messages of top management, "digital" is often mentioned first. This is an indication that DX is positioned as an important position in the management strategy and that the entire company is working on DX.
Miyajima: Construction will not end unless buildings and infrastructure are gone, and the structures we build will not change significantly. Technology has advanced and it has become possible to make something of any size, but in that process we have turned to digital to differentiate and take a step forward. I think that the attitude of constantly working on new things was highly evaluated.
── Kajima Corporation is a company with a history of 180 years. Isn't it an obstacle when trying because there is something that has been accumulated so far?
Miyajima: We have the official name "Kajima Construction", but we often express it in two letters as "Kajima", and it is also called "Kajima" in newspapers and news. This is because we are proud to carry out business activities widely regardless of construction, so we have come to describe our company as "Kashima".
Immediately below: A company with a long history has an unchanging core, but continues to change in response to changes in society and customers. I think that Kajima Construction Co., Ltd. has survived for 180 years because it has challenged various possibilities.
──I see. He said he survived because he kept changing. In terms of new challenges, Kajima is also focusing on overseas business.
Miyajima: About a quarter of sales, less than 500 billion yen, is an overseas business, half of which is in the United States. Originally, it was also the first Japanese construction company to expand overseas.
Currently, we are developing construction and real estate in the United States, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. Kashima has a long history of building infrastructure overseas, and has been able to build relationships and trust with the local government. For this reason, we have been engaged in projects such as renting land from the local government, building buildings, and developing large cities for quite some time.
Immediately below: Unlike the manufacturing industry, construction and real estate development are not industries in which something is made and then taken overseas for sale. Cultures and laws differ depending on the country or region, and the needs for buildings also differ. In order to meet the diverse needs of overseas, it is important to have a good understanding of each country and region and to develop our business as a member.
──By the way, how many people are involved in overseas business?
Miyajima: Kajima's overseas business is expanding by establishing a local subsidiary in that area and splitting it into a separate company. Therefore, the number of employees including local staff is considerable, but about 10% of the employees are registered in Kashima and are seconded to overseas corporations. Kajima employees are in charge of managing local staff and managing local corporations so that their work can proceed.
Kajima's DX is not for business efficiency. To make people around the world happy
── Thank you. So far, you have talked about various aspects of Kajima Construction, but could you tell us about the real thrill of DX in the construction industry in the future and the fun of entering Kajima?
Miyajima: I think it is only in construction and Kashima that you can experience how the industry, which has been labor-intensive, is about to change dramatically with digital technology. It has changed a lot since I joined the company seven years ago, but the changes will be even more tremendous.
Today I mainly talked about DX, but besides that, the project to design and construct Japan's first commercial offshore wind farm in Akita Prefecture and Kajima Global Hub under construction in Singapore are actively engaged in technological development. A project to promote open innovation with external companies, government agencies and universities is underway in the traditional Singapore.
In terms of human resources, we are constantly taking on challenges such as introducing a talent management system for the purpose of improving employee abilities and strengthening organizational management capabilities, and constructing a new training facility that will serve as a place to train the next generation of business leaders. ..
Immediately below: The challenge in Kashima could have a significant impact on the Japanese construction industry and, in some cases, overseas. What I did is a really interesting job that moves not only Kashima but also Japan and sometimes overseas. Kashima is a company that takes advantage of its strengths in construction and real estate development, and combines digital to solve social issues and meet needs. I feel that the job of working on DX at such a company is to make people around the world happy.
── Finally, do you have a message for the readers who read this article?
Miyajima: When you first heard about construction and digital, you might have wondered, "What?" In today's world, where the speed of change in the times has become extremely fast, it is important to integrate different fields such as AI and IT not only in the core business of construction but also in the process of real estate development, management and operation, and construction.
In job hunting, do not be bound by prejudice, look at various industries, companies, and businesses, and imagine your own potential and future. If you can adapt to new things and enjoy yourself, Kashima will suit you. I would be happy if you could think, "Construction may be more interesting than I expected."
Makoto: What I would like to convey to students is that "workers are in a different position from when they were students." The students were in a position to pay to study. However, working people are in a position to receive money from other people. In other words, you can only get money in return for helping others and making them happy.
With that in mind, working people continue to give presents to make people happy. The present is a product or service of the company, and it is job hunting to choose the stage to give the present. Choose a stage that makes you think, "I want people to be happy with this stage." We are proud that Kashima has a wonderful stage.