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Automated Testing Systems in PWCL

Public Works Laboratories (PWL) of Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) is responsible for providing an extensive range of materials testing services for government works projects. Every year there are more than 200,000 concrete samples and 30 000 steel rebar samples tested by PWL for various government works projects. Construction materials testing services are essential for the quality assurance of construction work in Hong Kong.

In light of the Government’s aspiration of providing high quality public services through the adoption of innovation and technologies, PWL has applied various advanced robotic and automation technologies aiming at enhancing the operational efficiency as well as the quality of the construction materials compliance testing services.

The PWL has recently developed the world’s first automated concrete cube testing system and has also introduced the first automated steel rebar testing system in Hong Kong. The automated systems adopted numerous advanced automation and robotic technologies as well as the application of computer vision analysis, which enabled the concrete cube testing (including weight/dimension measurement, concrete cube curing and compression testing) and the steel rebar testing (including weight/length measurement, surface geometry measurement, heating and tensile testing) processes fully automatic.

The introduction of automation technologies significantly enhanced the efficiency of the construction materials testing services of the PWL, and it also served as a noteworthy example for promoting the use of innovation and technologies in the construction materials testing industry for enhancing the efficiency and quality of the testing services in overall.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems for New Archives Centre

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) will be introduced to the New Archives Centre to achieve high-density and automatic storage and reduce labor costs. Preliminary study shows that ASRS could increase the storage capacity of existing repositories by about 20%.

The ASRS will be equipped with programmed management software for controlling robots to automatically complete operational tasks such as archives registration, storage, retrieval, transportation, identification, positioning, inventory stocktaking and data compilation, hence upgrading the facilities to smart repositories. The smart repositories fully optimizes the management of archives, enhances inventory management and planning efficiency, and improves the accuracy of storage and retrieval. At the same time, it supports fast and high-quality archive retrieval service, which improves working efficiency and service levels for a more cost-effective operation.

In addition, due to the fully automated operation, the ASRS requires no lighting during normal operation. This reduces the power consumption and avoids deterioration of archives due to light exposure. In general, ASRS achieves higher energy efficiency for sustainable development.

The adoption of ASRS could streamline the inventory stock taking and workflow of repositories. This reduces the operation manpower and labor intensity of staff, thus enhancing occupational safety and saving labor costs in the long run.

Digital Twin

Upon the completion of the Reprovisioned PWCL and Archives Centre, a Digital Twin (DT) system will be provided to support the subsequent daily operation and management of the smart buildings.

The DT system will integrate with an asset management system and advanced digital technologies including Building information Modelling (BIM), Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors and other innovative applications to tackle with the common pain points on the operation and maintenance of buildings. It will provide the operators and property management team a smart way to carry out asset management (AM) and facility management (FM). A dashboard function of DT will be included to enable our property management staff to better visualize and analyze data for swift and accurate decision making.