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Obayashi Starts Work on Dam which will be Built Almost Entirely by Robots

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Obayashi the Japanese construction company has started to build a dam almost entirely with robots, addressing the industry's labour shortage and aging workforce. The site of the project is a concrete dam in Mie Prefecture, on the southeast coast of Japan's main island and the 84-meter-high dam is due for completion 1Q 2023. The dam's body is to be built in layers by pouring concrete into 15-meter square partitions. Tower cranes that pour the concrete are controlled remotely by computers, which also monitor the positioning of the partitions and the progress of construction. Humans will man the cranes for safety reasons, but the machines are self-operating. When building a dam, concrete surfaces need to be processed so they are tightly stacked on one another. Layers that are uneven are usually brushed down by humans until they are flat. Obayashi has developed machines that handle the frequency and pressure of the brushing automatically. As poured concrete builds up, the forms used to give its structure need to be raised to keep unset concrete from leaking out. Normally, multiple workers in heavy machinery operate in tandem to gradually lift the forms, calling out to each other to coordinate their movements. Obayashi has developed a robot to handle this task, allowing for humans to be cut out of the picture entirely. In the long-term, Obayashi hopes to cut construction time by up to 30% using automation.

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