Spread your wings

By using innovative technology, the runway paving project at the Japanese Ishigaki Airport was completed in just five months instead of the usual 12.

Grader preparing the ground for the runway
Grader preparing the ground for the runway

The new airport, opened on March 7, 2013, in the east part of Ishigaki Island of Okinawa prefecture, and was designed to accommodate the most modern planes on its 2,000m (1.2 mile) runway. The existing airport was not suitable for mid-sized planes that link with capital regions, because of its short runway.

Asphalt Business Association was given responsibility for the project. It consists of four local paving and grading contractors – Toyo Kogyo, Nansei Doken, Yaejima Kogyo and Sakihara Construction. The association used Topcon's LPS 3D machine control system on their graders, pavers and asphalt paver.

The project included surface preparation work and paving of the runway and taxiways - in all, a construction area of 187,500m2 (46 acres).

The 3D-MC system used a QS robotic total station which locates and tracks for the 360° prism, mounted on the machinery and measures the precise position of the machine in real time. The system then automatically controls the blade and screed height of the grader and paver by verifying the position and 3D design data. The results are extremely accurate.

Seiken Haemori, President of Nansei Doken, said: "The paving plan for the new airport was first announced in 2009. At that time, we began discussing the project with local contractors."

Yoichi Shii-uezato, President of Toyo Kogyo, said: "We were invited to a construction site to see a demonstration with the Topcon 3D-MC system and we realised immediately it was the perfect solution. It was apparent that work could be done at the rate of 6,000m2 (65.000ft2) per day. This was about four times the speed of conventional methods."

Regarding the asphalt paver, Shii-uezato said: "Though the accepted range of accuracy for ordinary paving is 15mm (0.6"), target accuracy for this particular project was 5mm (0.2"). We could reach the specified accuracy perfectly."

Satoshi Taira, president of Yaejima Kogyo, said: "We successfully hit all the designed grades along with the runway. With the cooperation of the four companies and utilizing 3D-MC systems, we were able to accomplish the paving in just five months, less than half of the expected 12 months for the project."

The contractors received the highest evaluation points after project completion from governmental authorities. Hirotaka Sakihara, a member of the senior staff of Sakihara Construction, said: "We will utilise the auto-tracking total stations, not only for projects requiring 3D machine control, but also for general surveying tasks. We will also apply the instrument in the projects requiring as-built checks."

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