Accommodation Times Bureau
China, March 6, 2017: It is certainly unusual to see an advanced fingerprint and face recognition system, something rarely seen outside of futuristic movies and the most modern of office buildings, being used at a noisy construction site, as the way of controlling access for its workers. Country Garden Holdings, a construction firm in Dongguan, a mid-sized city in China’s Guangdong province, has installed such a system at its Country Garden-Chashan Mansion project. Ou Peikang, an administrator of the Chashan project working on the construction site, said, as he was placing his hands on the scanner and facing the monitor, “the workers got used to the system in a matter of days.”
“All the construction workers enter the site every day through the system,” Mr. Ou added.
“The workers tell me that working here is a completely new and different experience for them,” stated Mr. Ou. “Our project uses a large number of preformed partition boards in constructing interior walls, replacing the previous bricklaying and plastering processes and delivering better and more uniform quality. On-site casting is directly controlled by cement pumps, so there is no need for workers to lug around huge bags of cement and other construction materials. There isn’t too much heavy manual work. That’s why we are envied by many of our peers in the construction industry.”
Mr. Wang, a worker with many years of experience in the field, said, “This is the cleanest and most orderly construction site I have ever seen in my career as a construction worker.” The methodic approach to every aspect of the site is immediately obvious as soon as one reaches the entrance gate: the entrance area is inlaid with grooves so vehicles can be washed and cleaned by an automated car wash and the accompanying spraying and aspirating systems. A digital screen, also located in the entrance area, displays the current weather information, including PM2.5, PM10 and humidity, constantly monitoring the environment within the site.
Workers on the site can access information about the construction materials by scanning the QR code with their smartphone. Portable toilets are intelligently placed on several floors of the buildings under construction, saving the workers long and wasteful trips to a facility on the ground floor. Many peers in the construction industry and property owners openly expressed surprise at and demonstrated admiration for the highly detailed and customized design of the site when they visited during the opening day.
The ability to adopt such a methodical and systematic approach is mainly due to the application of a complete array of recently-developed Standard and Shareable Geospatial Foundation (SSGF) building solutions. Sun Jun, vice president of Country Garden Holdings for Dongguan and Shenzhen, is the man responsible for promoting the process. “The solutions employ some of the existing established construction technologies in China while adding in several technologies from Japan and Europe,” explained Mr. Sun. “The technologies can fully eliminate the need for plastering and significantly reduce the use of lumber, sand, cement and water while maximizing efficiencies in terms of human resources, allowing for energy conservation and environmental protection.”
The new technologies include climbing frames, aluminum molds, cast-in-place walls, precision-made flooring, water interception systems on every floor, prefabricated panels, complete bathroom units, cement forming using high pressure spray guns, prefabricated polycarbonate components, fully interspersed construction and PVC wallpaper. The new process can significantly reduce the time needed to complete a construction project of this size by six to eight months. The process is so “clean” that it makes it appear that the buildings under construction at the site have already been completed but for the barely noticeable climbing frames on top of the buildings. A field engineering technician explained, “The self-elevating climbing frames rise based on the height of how much of the mainframe of the building has been completed and will be dismantled about half a month after the capping of the buildings, contributing in large measure to the vast reduction in the timeline for the project. The process makes the buildings look as if they are being printed by 3D printers.”
This is not the first time that a Chinese project has deployed the latest in housing industrialization technologies. The country started using the technology experimentally at the end of the last century. In 1998, the Residential Industrialization Promotion Center under the aegis of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development was established. The ministry followed up with the approval and establishment 10 national housing industrialization demonstration bases, with, in 2006, Shenzhen selected as the first pilot city for the project. In 2013, use of the technology took off, with the construction of 12 million square meters of floor space applying the technologies. The Chinese government’s roll out of the 13th Five-year Plan for Housing Industrialization and Modernization, a program for updating construction technology between 2016 and 2020, calls for the addition of around 20 pilot cities or districts, among which, approximately 10 will be located in the eastern part of the country, 5 in the central part and 5 in western part.
With approximately 20 years of development under its belt, the technology has become increasingly mature. Nevertheless, a construction project is a complicated and complex task. Mr. Sun, the Country Garden VP, said, “The technology lowers technological requirements for workers. It takes about a week for the construction workers to pick up the necessary knowledge and skills. However, it considerably raises the bar as for what is required from designers and managers. The process is a lot more than simply retraining the construction staff. If you want to build a truly state-of-the-art building, yes, there are real challenges in doing so.”