Super Construction

Voice Card  -  Volume 18  -  Paul Card Number 6  -  Sat, Jan 26, 1991 11:03 AM

Buildings that Build Themselves

Japan's booming construction industry is grappling with a labor shortage. To fill the gap, foreign workers are flooding in. But Osaka's Ohbayashi Corp. has another solution: buildings that virtually build themselves.

Because the Tokyo government has long promoted automation as preferable to foreign labor, other construction companies have plucked technology from the factory floor for robot welders and concrete sprayers. But Ohbayashi is going further and applying full blown computer integrated manufacturing to the building site.

The high rise assembly process begins with a 'super construction floor', or SCF. This bootstrapping module is outfitted with vats of concrete, steel pillars, prefabricated walls and floors, and various robot cranes, welders, and concrete sprayers. Once the foundation and ground floor are ready the SCF climbs its own steel frame to tack on successive floors.

Ohbayashi claims that its system, which can toil 24 hours a day, could put up a 40 story building in half the time normally needed. Mover, it requires only one-tenth the usual number of human workers. The first big test is slated for next year.

{Business Week August 28, 1990}