Not all R&D is high tech. Refrigerator magnets fasten chips to steel.
The DoallTech Corp. is com-mercializing technology developed in conjunction with Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in Suwon, South Korea, for an RFID-based project management system for daily labor control. It has been implemented at about 400 construction projects in South Korea and other countries.
Sangyoon Chin, chief technology officer at DoallTech as well as an associate professor at SKKU’s Dept. Of Enginering and a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is now setting up DoallTechUS in Champaign, Ill., to market the company’s Gateware access-control system. It is being applied not only to track personnel but to handle supply-chain management as well.
The system consists of a reader, tags and a project-data management system that Chin compares to Autodesk’s Constructware and Meridian’s Prolog. Chin says the U.S. branch will concentrate on marketing its hardware but not the project-management part. It will encourage software developers to integrate Gateware with their own systems.
DoallTech’s system is in its third generation of research and development. It began as a personnel access-control system that combined tags on ID cards with a digital camera in the reader to verify identities. It was then expanded to include the identification of equipment, such as dump trucks, moving on and off a site by positioning a scanner where drivers could reach it without getting out of their seats. It was also expanded to integrate a ready-mix-concrete delivery management system. Invoices are tagged to automate processing.
The current generation supports management of long-lead-time items in the supply chain, such as structural steel, precast concrete and curtain-wall units. It integrates with 4D CAD.
The digital camera in the readers are now being augmented with finger-vein readers developed by Hitachi for instant identity verification, said Chin in a presentation at a recent conference of FIATECH, a U.S. industry consortium that promotes the coordinated development and implementation of technology to automate construction.
RFID-based access control is now in use on about 400 jobs around the world.
Like fingerprints, the blood-vein patterns in the fingertip are unique and do not change. The real-time information gives managers the ability to not only know exactly how many workers are on site at any time, but who they are. “It will be very useful for public buildings and airport construction,” predicts Chin.
That data can be mapped to safety-training compliance and skills certification for even finer control. Contractors can use it to analyze productivity but also to confirm that subcontractors have the proper trades and are fully staffed.
“I think we are ahead,” says Chin. “That’s thanks to construction practitioners who are willing to try out the new technology, and thanks to government support for research.”
The South Korean government has supported research into the use of the technology for curtain-wall supply-chain management with a $500,000 grant. A grant for next-generation research is in negotiation, but Chin says it is expected to be about $1 million.
Industry clients, including two constructing high-rise projects in Seoul and Busan with a combined value of $870 million, are another source of significant support, Chin says.orean academic researchers, with substantial South Korean government and industry support, are making a huge push to apply Radio Frequency Identification tag technology to construction. Now, they are bringing their success to the U.S.