Users Report / Vol.125
Safety Planning Office, Tokyo Electrical Construction & System Integration Office, East Japan Railway Company

Leading Security of Project by the Expert Group on Railway Electrification      
Introducing UC-win/Road DS for Safety Measures in Access to Site by Work Vehicle

Tokyo Electrical Construction & System
Integration Office,
East Japan Railway Company
Location: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Services: Planning, design, and construction management of electric works in the Kanto-koshinetsu area of East Japan Railway Company

Mr. Masaki Shimoyama,
Deputy General Manager,
Safety Planning Office, Tokyo Electrical
Construction & System Integration Office,
East Japan Railway Company
Mr. Yuya Inamoto,
assistant Manager, Safety planning group,
Safety Planning Office, Tokyo Electrical
Construction & System Integration Office,
East Japan Railway Company

"It is sometimes necessary to actually go to the site and perform the training with the local facility, for example, by training through practical experiences besides a train running. However, there are some problems such as physical danger".

It's more than 30 years since East Japan Railway Company (JR East), which covers Kanto-koshinetsu as its operation area, started. There top priority is put on the key word "safety" consistently. In Tokyo Electrical Construction & System Integration Office of the Company, which is in charge of different projects regarding electrical system, safety within the Office is lead unitarily by "Safety Planning Office". Mr. Masaki Shimoyama, Deputy General Manager says that in exploring more effective approach to ensuring safety, there are fewer opportunities of providing the training in the environment where a train runs just close to trainees by visiting the actual spot than before from the viewpoint of risk avoidance. Instead, more emphasis is put on the practice using a simulator capable of representing various kinds of dangerous situations taking advantage of VR within a building.

Our user to pick up for this issue is "Tokyo Electrical Construction & System Integration Office (TESCO)", that specializes in a wide range of electric works in JR East, covering from project research and planning to design and construction management. In particular, the focus is placed on "Safety Planning Office", whose mission is building up corporate culture that puts top priority on safety.

JR East has been trying to understand possibilities of utilizing VR technology, and promoting its application in diverse areas since about 2017. "Group Safety Plan 2023", which JR East formulated in 2018 as part of this, mentions utilization of the simulator applying VR as an educational approach that has adopted new technology. In TESCO, prior to materialization of the concept of "Shinjuku Study Center", popularly called "Juku-Suta" (having opened in Oct. 2018), they started preparation of building up simulators for the employees involved with driving work vehicles in the spring time of 2017. At the beginning of 2018, they introduced the simulator (DS) based on the three-dimensional (3D) real-time VR "UC-win/Road". This was moved to "Juku-Suta" in October 2018 to start operation for the purpose of employee education.

Supporting Safe and Stable Operation of Trains through Electricity-related Services

Japanese National Railway (JNR)'s breakup and privatization has made JR East start in April 1987 with other multiple succession companies. as one of the 6 "Railway Companies" by areas. It's been 32 years since then.

Members of Safety Planning Office,
Tokyo Electrical Construction & System Integration Office:
in front of Shinjuku Study Center (Juku-Suta)

On the other side, TESCO originates in Tokyo Electric Power Office of the Japanese Government Railways (JGR) at the time of its inauguration in April 1924. Later, through JNR (starting in 1949) as mentioned before, it was organized as a specialized agency for railway electricity “Tokyo electrical Construction & System Integration Office” along with inauguration of JR East, with its 12 branches (Tokyo, Yokohama, Hachioji, Omiya, Takasaki, Mito, Chiba, Sendai, Morioka, Akita, Niigata, and Nagano) and other 3 Construction Offices (Tokyo, Joshin-etsu, and Tohoku).

TESCO is largely composed of 4 divisions: 1) Energy-related division for constructing or updating facilities for providing a huge amount of electrical power essential for operation of trains and stations etc. safely and stably, including facilities of power-generation and transformation of electrical energy, grid, electric car track (overhead wire), and power distribution (electric light power); 2) Train-control-related division for introducing or updating signal systems and operation management system to support safe and stable transport of trains; 3) Information-communication-related division for constructing and updating the train radio system to connect the commander and crew, and communication network etc. to collect and transmit disaster prevention information (wind speed indicator or seismometer) or provide various information to users and employees; and 4) Railway-administration-related division for performing a wide range of general affair works to support smooth operation of these services. With the head office adjacent to Shinjuku Station as its core, about 1,000 employees are positioned over 7 electrical system construction areas of Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Yokohama, Hachioji, Chiba, and Niigata.

Emphasis on Human Resource Development Using "Juku-Suta" to the Fullest Based on the Concept of Safety Planning

"Safety is not performed by the organization alone. The utmost issue is how to raise each person's consciousness," says Deputy General Manager Shimoyama. As such, Safety Planning Office guides safety within TESCO unitarily to materialize the motto that JR East upholds: "ultimate safety levels (no fatal and injury accident of passengers, and no fatal accident of the employees)". He says that along with human resource development to create culture to give top priority to safety, when an accident has occurred, they put emphasis most on deepening the true nature and cause of the actual accident and take proper measures to prevent recurrence.

The Company has formulated "The 5-year Safety Plan" to pursue the "ultimate safety levels" and work out countermeasures for the group as one body. In this, “Group Safety Plan 2023” (for 5 years from 2019 fiscal year) formulated in Nov. 2018 upholds evolution and renovation of "safe action" and "safety management" of each employee as well as positive utilization of new technologies for these as its pillars. With this situation as background, Safety Planning Office is keeping on actions to explore new educational approach using the 3D VR simulator.

In the Office, Mr. Yuya Inamoto, assistant Manager, Safety planning group says that his most important job is to work out countermeasures for preventing recurrence of troubles in particular and specify them such as by making rules. He states that development of educational training facilities for "Juku-suta" mentioned at the opening is another new main job.

Whereas originally TESCO depended on education on desktop or real site, or using on-site training facility for safety education, JR East has been paying attention to the advantages of VR technologies for several years. From the viewpoint of apprehension of the potential of its application as well as risk aversion, moods for positive deployment of the training simulator applying VR were increasing.

Under such circumstances, TESCO opened "Juku-Suta", a facility specialized for practical training and safety education on the 4th floor of JR Shinjuku Bldg. in Oct. 2018. The following devices are installed there. 1) "Simulator for training train protection" for training response ability to properly perform judgment of train protection and device operation when something abnormal is found, 2) "Simulator for training procedure of track closure work" for representing derailment accidents and learning points of preventing accidents such as chain of command and conversation for confirmation, 3) "Simulator for bodily sensing power pole collapse event" for developing sensitivity for dangerous conditions of facilities by changing the inclination of the power pole etc., 4) "Simulator for training power failure construction procedure" for representing events likely to occur in power failure construction, and training to perform a series of proper procedure, and 5) "Driving simulator" using UC-win/Road DS for developing sensitivity for risk prediction to prevent traffic accidents while driving work vehicle. Their operation for the employees of the Company and group companies has started.

 Risk-prediction simulator based on UC-win/Road

It was the beginning of 2017 when introduction of DS into Safety Planning Office was examined for the purpose of preventing traffic accidents caused by employees who drive vehicles for work. They collected information about DS through the Internet etc. In the spring of the year, they focused on UC-win/Road DS based on their expectation of its full product lineup and after-service including its specifications. Touching the actual machine in the showroom of FORUM8 headquarters, they realized the motion of 3D VR without sense of incongruity and good operability, easiness of switching settings for day and night or bad weather, and functions capable of representing the scenes to urge the driver to predict risks and recover driving sense (Mr. Inamoto). It was decided to introduce it in Feb. 2018.

Meanwhile, idea of opening "Juku-Suta" surfaced as mentioned before. In parallel with its preparation, a scenario of the risk-prediction simulator during driving work vehicle ("Driving Simulator”) was arranged. It was completed by the opening of "Juku-Suta" in Oct. The DS is accommodated at one of its corners.

"As it is a section of electric construction, we often go to the work site at night, not to mention the daytime". Besides, though new employees have few driving experiences, they tend to be in the condition of being obliged to drive work vehicles when they are positioned at the site first after joining the Company. On the other hand, though external facilities such as the police have been used conventionally, there are restrictions of the number of people or time. Consequently, intention of installing a dedicated simulator within the office has been formed, says Mr. Inamoto.

Many employees use it for safe driving training based on the scenarios
with diverse kinds of risk assumptions

This DS basically adopts the contents suitable for the purpose from the Safer Driving Educational Material based on the certification standards for driving simulators. It is so organized as to allow the user to experience various kinds of risk prediction through traveling in urban areas, expressways, and mountain path.

According to Mr. Shimoyama, they want to utilize it also as part of new employee education from April, when fiscal years change, and in this sense, it is required to figure out some way to have the user repeat experiences, for example, by newly reflecting timely elements such as an issue of driving in the opposite direction.

 Points of utilizing VR for Safety Measures

"Use of VR enables us to reproduce any kind of scenes (considered to be necessary for safety education)."
Therefore, through daily operations, they considered some problems: e.g. what kind of places are dangerous, or what is the point to keep safety. Mr. Inamoto says that it is important to grasp these beforehand for using VR effectively, based on his experience to work for building up the DS for educating the employees.

Furthermore, as the responsible person of the division having jurisdiction over safety education of TESCO and effective operation of the DS, Mr. Shimoyama talks about difficulty of keeping and improving the safety level of an organization.

"Safety level drops down without doing anything." Therefore, "I think that important points are how to keep on performing the training with VR (which is one of the countermeasures) regularly, and how to enrich the contents (of the simulator itself to that the users don't get bored)".

Standard scenarios for safer driving simulator, based on the certification standards for driving simulators
1) Lesson on hazard perception (urban area course, 23 scenes of risks and requiring attention)
2) Lesson on nighttime driving (24 scenes for learning knowledge and skill of nighttime driving)
3) Lesson on sudden braking (based on the brake stopping distance on the dry / wet / frozen road surface)
4) Lesson on driving on the highway (18 scenes for learning driving technique)
5) Lesson on location-specific conditions (roads on the basis of local characteristics such as climate and topographic features)
6) Lesson on driving in bad condition (driving skill learning under 11 points of bad conditions)

(Written by Takashi Ikeno)
(Up&Coming '19 Spring issue)