User Experience Report Vol. 111

Central Consultant Inc.
Second Bridge R&D and Waterworks Group, First Road R&D Group, Tokyo Regional Department
Progressive incorporation and utilization of ICT and the bold, yet gentle approches to innovation.
A long advocate of UC-1 product line turned UC-win/Road enthusiast

 User Information
Central Consultant Inc.
Location : Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Business Portfolio : Design and Construction Consulting in Road, Bridges, and Waterworks

▲Entrance to Central Consultant Inc. in Tokyo Department

▲Home Page

"We believe software is always about making your work more efficient."

As a long time user of FORUM8 UC-1 products, Hiroki Koizumi of the First Road R&D Group, Central Consultants Inc. receives the most up-to-date FORUM8 product information very frequently. Under this background, passionate and eager colleagues of his, especially the young ones, have been navigating those product information materials, looking for new opportunities or new approaches to further streamline operational efficiency in their daily routine work. 
"This will work briliantly!" Such surprised comments now become a common sight in the corporation, and becomes the main driving force of adopting the latest software available. This is the reason why Central Consultant is often ahead of competition in terms of adopting new ICT technologies.

Central Consultants Inc. is a renowned construction consultancy that specializes in civil engineering and urban planning. This time, we have interviewed this long time customer of FORUM8 and enquired about the background of adopting numerous advanced design and ICT products.

A long advocate of FORUM8's UC-1 series civil engineering product lines, they have now become an enthusiastic user of the 3 dimentional real-time VR software "UC-win/Road" as well.

▲Left to Right
Hiroki Koizumi, First Road R&D Group.
Kazuma Matsuzaki, 2nd Bridge R&D Group.
Nanae Akiyama, 2nd Bridge R&D Group.
Fumihiro Funaba, 2nd Waterworks R&D Group.

Supporting the Social Infrastructure Maintenance for almost 50 years Through High Tech

Central Consultant was founded in 1967, and has since then worked on numerous governmental and public sectors, as well as foreign projects via the Official Development Assistance program by the Japanese Government, which invests in the foreign development assistance of social assets and infrastructures.

Currently, other than the HQ and Tokyo Regional Department (both in Chuo-ku of Tokyo), the company has expanded into various regions of Japan, now having 3 branch companies in Tohoku (Northeast), Chubu (Central), and Osaka Regions of Japan, and 2 branch offices in Hiroshima and Kyusyu. Foreign representative offices include Guatemala, Paraguay and Bolivia, employing a total of 500 professionals. 

The company's business portfolio is fairly wide, currently spanning across the following areas: 
1. Construction and maintenance of road, bridge, tunnel, river and marine architecture, sewer systems and infrastructure informatics,
2. The construction and maintenance of parks and other public spaces, urban planning, design, and construction supervising.
3. Management and maintenance assistance of existing public assets and infrastructure. 

  Bridge, Waterworks, Road - FORUM8's Role in the Company

Central Consultants is an advocate of FORUM8 products and have implemented all they can into the various departments in its entire corporation across Japan. This time, we interviewed the technicians and designers working under the R&D Department of the Tokyo Regional Department. 

The Tokyo Regional Department consists of several sub departments: Quality Assurance, Operational Planning, 1st R&D Group, 2nd R&D Group, and 3rd R&D Group. The 1st R&D Group is further divided into Road Group and Urban Components Group, the 2nd R&D contains the Bridge Group and Waterworks Group, and the 3rd R&D is comprised of Traffic & Transportation Group and Urban Infrastructure Group.

The 2nd Bridge R&D Group's current main client is the Japan Ministry of Transportation and local municipalities, covering contracts and demands of construction and maintenance of new or existing bridges. This is where the 4 of FORUM8's UC-1 products, Pier Design, Abutment Design, Foundation Design, and Earth Retaining Design, became a central part of its services.

Kazuma Matsuzaki is the lead designer for all new bridge projects. He has been using FORUM8 products since his entire career here and essentially all bridge related projects will at least be reviewed by him.

Nanae Akiyama's work is more versatile. She is responsible for both new bridge design and existing bridge maintenance planning, on a 50-50 basis. She heavily relies on the Abutment Design and Foundation Design software in her work.

The 2nd Waterworks R&D sub group is tasked with the planning or designing of river or marine architectures. Especially ever since the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, demands for new types of disaster mitgation works for river and coastal area have become an all time high. They too, use UC-1 series in much of their work, especially in sluice gates and pipes, making the Retaining Wall Design and Temporary Earth Retaining Design very popular inside the group.

The 1st Road R&D subgroup is responsible for road planning and design, and bridges or any related structures attached to it. They also work on train station plazas and utility tunnels. The nature of these works made them to become interested in products such as Retaining Wall Design, Box Culvert Design, and Temporary Earth Retaining Design. One unique characteristic about this group is that they have also implemented UC-win/Road.

Mr. Koizumi, who jokingly referred to himself as a "jack-of-all-trades", is really a veteran professional on road and highway bypass planning and designs that are used to divert a portion of the traffic away from congested areas.  Currently from the UC-1 series, only the Retaining Wall Design is applicable to Koizumi's work, but the complexity of urban and traffic simulation was what triggered his decision to adopt UC-win/Road.

Currently, Mr. Koizumi is highly interested in FORUM8's geotechnical technical analysis series to find ways of avoiding or improving soft ground foundation in his works.

  Using ICT to Full Effect

▲UC-win/Road, Engineer's Studio®, Pier Design, Abutment Designn, Temporary Earth Retaining Design, Retaining Wall Design - FORUM8 Products are an Integral Part of the Central Consultant's Excellence

The most important merit of adopting a new software or new ways of working is always aimed at improving efficiency and reduce human errors. However, the reality is that many companies fail to do the proper training and monitoring to ensure that all team memers can use the software to its full effect, shares Mr. Koizumi from his experience. 

His colleague Mr. Matsuzaki also made similar comments - new members who joined the company and were immediately introduced with new software without proper guidance often fall into some feasibility pitfalls in their works. 
"Even if things look great in the software, there are too many factors that make the actual construction impossible" said Mr. Matsuzaki. 
Planners and designers must learn from the basic workflow of the on-site engineers and workers, to prevent becoming only a "software operator".

"To increase true work efficiency, we perform monthly seminars for designers to teach or share key points that make the software most effective" said Mr. Funaba of the 2nd Waterworks R&D Group.  Every month study seminars are held and focus on only one software at a time to ensure full understanding. The seminars are held in the form of TV conferences, with a pre-assigned designer who would draft and organize operating guidance and tips to be distributed to all his co-workers.

To further increase work efficiency, tablet computers have now become standard issue to many members of the team for works such as bridge checkups and maintenance.. Although currently it is limited to the  confirmation of design works, in the future they are highly interested in the automatic generation of analysis reports for on-site engineers even while working outside the office.

"This industry is all about meetings and on-site discussions with many groups of people before anything is finalized. Up until now this meant bringing a heavy pile of documents to your destination." as Mr. Koizumi commented. "But today, regulatory documents, design drawings, or photos can be stored in mobile devices and be used for presentation, quick referencing, or confirmation, right on the spot."
Mr. Akiyama also added "The business world has changed so much in the current era that we carry nothing while actually having everything. "

  Keeping Eyes on the Latest CIM (Construction Information Modeling / Management) and VR

"As about this topic of CIM," Mr. Matsuzaki comments, "we have had our eyes on it for quite some time, especially on bridge designs and maintenances. Even every now and then we have long-time clients who are showing their curiosity towards CIM and actively discuss about it with us. For this reason, we send many staffs out to attend many of CIM related meetings and seminars, and have them share their experiences across the entire company horizontally, even beyond departments".

Mr. Matsuzaki further emphasized that most in the civil engineering industry are still evaluating how much of the more complicated demands can be met with their current software alone, Central Consultant has already taken action, knowing of the inevitable wide adoption of CIM in the future. In fact, the company's Chubu Branch Company is already going through various trial and errors on using CIM in projects. 

Mr. Koizumi also added that how CIM can help road designs directly in an obvious manner, is rather unclear at the moment, hence the slow adoption in the industry, despite the concept has become more and more widespread. He himself believes that visualization inside a 3D space, such as the reinforcement steel bars of planned structure, or even if just for communication or marketing purposes, will be invaluable. That is one of the main reasons behind the adoption of UC-win/Road. Mr. Koizumi has high hopes of the slogans "IM & VR Solution" of FORUM8. 

▲Members of the 2nd R&D Group of Central Consultant Inc. 
(With Manager Mr. Tsuchii at the Centre Front Row)