Precast building changed by ‘Smart Crane’
Through the aid of microchips, cams and satellite tracking, enormous tower cranes may someday be controlled from another location. By using both digital software that works out the best lifting course and modern cameras, a crane operator can now complete any task that would normally done from the crane cabin remotely. With Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking they can also evaluate how effectively they have followed the path calculated by the digital software
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) created the “smart crane system” that was trialled recently at the Yishun executive condominium site by Kimly Building and construction site. One of the core features noticed during the trialling was the enabled by microchip precast part tracking.
Precast building is a method used to boost productivity, but is often still labour-intensive. This is due to workers having to enter every concrete part that arrives on site into a database. NTU’s system differs as Radio Frequency Identification tags are used instead. This allows for each slab to be scanned, which allows the information to be automatically entered into the database. The result is that real-time project models are created meaning the Building Information Modelling (BIM) system is updated automatically as individual slabs are moved into place.
“From the beginning, it’s electronic information that can be passed from one process to another,” described NTU research study fellow Meghdad Attarzadeh. Gains in performance have already be seen with an increase in efficiency of 10%-20% for site logistics and 30% reductions in time costs for checking of inventory
The BIM system is also utilized to compute the most effective and least dangerous lifting path of every single item. A GPS sensing unit attached to the hook of the crane monitors how closely the operator is matching the best course.
Often tower crane operator’s vision is obstructed, meaning they typically depend on signalmen to guide them from below. The new crane hook cameras now allow the crane operator to see exactly where they are positioned relative to the cranes surroundings.
“For the very first few aspects, it was a challenge (for the crane operators),” said Mr Choo director of Kimly Construction. “But by the last few, when they had built up the confidence, the speed really picked up”.
NTU Associate Professor Robert Tiong, leader of the research group, stated: “The dream is for a game-changing ‘smart crane’ system.” The system might permit cranes and drake low loaders to be run remotely in the future he also noted.
The partnership started in December in 2015, with NTU team investing months establishing and evaluating the system. For more than six weeks across October and November, the new system was implemented to build floors 10 and 11 on two blocks of the project. The trial was solely funded by Building and Construction Authority’s Productivity Innovation Project Scheme.
Researchers at NTU are looking to further develop the system by partnering with organisations like the JTC Corporation; a nationwide industrial developer. Kimly Construction is also hoping to use the system for future projects that are suitable. As Mr Choo States, “It helps the (precast) process become a more systematic method of construction,”