Cambridge Consultants, as part of 5G co-creation activities, conducts demonstration experiments to improve the safety of construction sites

Using wireless networks to prevent falling accidents during high rise construction

Cambridge Consultants and a group of construction and IT companies that includes NEC have jointly developed a system to promote the use of safety harnesses, which are essential for preventing falling accidents during high rise construction. This is the first step in efforts to improve the safety of construction sites using 5G. In this project that took place in Japan, the group interviewed companies in the construction industry, discussed and prototyped with several IT companies, and confirmed through demonstration tests using actual towers that the system would be effective in promoting the use of safety harnesses.

As 5G continues to be commercialized around the world, new services are being considered that take advantage of 5G features, including ultra-high speed and high-capacity communications, multiple simultaneous connections and low latency. NEC launched a group named "5G Co-Creation Working" (Note 1) in 2018 to enable partnering with a variety of companies, including Cambridge Consultants, to explore the potential of 5G across industries. This high-rise construction demonstration was carried out by the construction working group, in which nine companies (Note 2) including Cambridge Consultants alongside other construction and IT companies, participated in the work.

Background

In recent years, the construction industry worldwide has seen a persistent labor shortage. By improving the working environment it should be possible to create more attractive working conditions in order to address this labor shortage. In addition, the construction industry must maintain safety vigilance. In Japan, the construction industry accounts for 34% of the total number of deaths in industrial accidents and when looking at the causes of deaths and casualties, "crashes and falls" represents the largest number (Note 3). The working group began the project with the words: "Working together towards zero crashes and falls during high rise construction, using 5G and ICT."

With regard to these accidents, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is working to prevent such accidents with the diligent use of protective equipment (Note 4). On the other hand, a survey by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism found that protective equipment was unused in 66.7% of scaffolding falling accidents (Note 5). As a result, the first initiative of this working group was to develop a system to improve the use of safety harnesses (Note 6) to prevent falls.

Overview of this system and demonstration

In the system used in this demonstration, beacon transmitters are installed in a high-rise construction environment, a vibration beacon is installed in the worker's helmet, and the use of a safety harness is encouraged using a vibration alert when the worker enters a predefined high rise area. A sensor is attached to the hook of the safety harness, and the alert is stopped when the sensor detects that the hook is attached. In addition, hook usage and worker location information are continuously sent to the server using a wireless network (Note 7). In this way, a site manager can check usage of the safety harness in real time using a management monitor and can also use aggregated data to analyze the safety harness usage of the entire site.

Overview of the system used for demonstration

This demonstration was conducted in March 2020 using a tower at the training facility of NEC Nets SI Co., Ltd. The demonstration used alerts to notify workers of the use of safety harnesses, using the wireless network to check usage and acquire data. The system also received an evaluation from The Zenitaka Corporation, a member of the working group, that: "This demonstration has raised the possibility of preventing falling accidents using ICT."

Demonstration experiments

Future Plans

In the future, the working group will use 5G technology to transmit high-definition images in real time from the work site, to allow administrators to visually check the use of safety harnesses, and to consider various measures to prevent industrial accidents using high-definition video by interviewing external stakeholders.

Further activities of "5G Co-Creation Working", including the construction working group, will be announced during a webinar, titled "5G Co-Creation Working Conference Spring 2020" (Note 8) which will be held on May 11, 2020.

Cambridge Consultants will continue its active contribution to the initiative, working to harness technology in order to address social issues, such as improving of working conditions, employee safety management and workplace health management.

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(Note 1) NEC launched a working system to provide a "place" for companies in various industries to share challenges, needs, and technologies, and to create new initiatives and services together in the 5G era. Since its establishment, NEC has established working groups in the areas of transportation, construction and distribution. Learn more

(Note 2) Construction working group participants (excluding NEC): Avanade Inc., Cambridge Consultants Japan Inc., CIJ Next Co., Ltd., The Zenika Corporation, Solace Corporation, PRONETS Co., Ltd., Ubiteq Inc., NEC Communication Systems, Ltd.

(Note 3) "Analysis of the Occurrence of Industrial Accidents in 2018" by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. See "The Status of Death Disasters by Industry (2008-2018)" and "Types of Industrial Accidents in the Construction Industry"

(Note 4) "13th Occupational Accident Prevention Plan" by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

(Note 5) "Transport and Tourism Safety Awareness Leaflet (2019 Edition)" by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure.  See "Data Analysis of Falling Accidents" 

(Note 6) The name of safety harnesses was changed to fall-arrest systems by the rectification of the Safety and Health Act on June 2018. But according to "Collection of Questions and Answers on Fall-arrest Systems" by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's, it is said that it is fine to still use the term "safety harnesses" which is a conventional name in construction sites. In fact, the name of the "safety harnesses" is widely used, and therefore is is also used in this article. "A Collection of Questions and Answers on Fall-arrest Systems" by The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

(Note 7) LTE is used in this demonstration.

(Note 8)
"5G Co-Creation Working Conference Spring 2020" details
Date & Time: Monday, May 11, 2020 / 13:00~16:45 
Style: Webinar
Capacity: 500
Website: https://jpn.nec.com/event/2005115gccw/index.html

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<< Contact >>
Cambridge Consultants Japan Inc.
E-mail:infojp@cambridgeconsultants.com

Notes to editors

Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of more than 850 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA), Tokyo and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, energy and wireless communications. For more information, visit: www.cambridgeconsultants.com

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