Safety mesures for workers and residents are essential on construction sites. One way to achieve this is to use Building Sheet (construction sheets) to enclose the construction site and prevent tools and people from falling. We spoke with three members of YKK AP RUXy Inc., wich handles repair work on buildings and condominiums, and YKK sales representative Yukihiro Ogino about the process that led to the development of the product and the value it brings to construction sites.
Chairman and representative. Director of YKK AP RUXY Inc., wich is engaged in repair work for buildings and condominuims. He is the originator of the production of Building Sheet using fastening products.
Director, Managing Executive Officer, and General Manager of Construction Division AP RUXY Inc., Responsible for verification, experimentation, and implementation of prototypes during the production stage.
Deputy General Manager, Construction Division, YKK AP RUXY Inc., He is engaged in the actual inspection and the certification in handing the sheets on site and is the current inventory manager of Building Sheet with fasteners.
East Japan Group, Market Development Office, Sales & Marketing Division, Japan Company. YKK Corporation Application development coordinator. Realization of curing sheet development employing fastening products in accordance with customer requirements.
Folding up Building Sheet was actually a time, manpower, and cost issue.
Building Sheet surround the entire building at a construction site. Because they are easily affected by wind and there is a risk that the entire scalffonding may collapse, it used to take two people to fold them up before a typhoon approached.
- What were the issues behind the incorporation of fastening products into the Building Sheet?
Of course, the work doesn’t end once the strings are untied; they must be reattached to the pipes once the wind dies down. With this restoration work, we can resume operations, so if we don’t get them back as quickly as possible, it will have a negative impact such as delaying our delivery date. Therefore, we need to tie the pipe back together and resume work as soon as posible. This restoration work also a took long time.
That’s right. When a typhoons hits, we have to fold out the protective sheets at every site, so sometimes the workers are not available, and event if they manage to get the job done, the typhoons path can eventually divert and the work is wasted. This was a source of streets for the site.
- With these challenges, how did you decide to incorporate fastening products?
Every time i saw the situation on the graund, i thought about what i could do, but i couldn’t come up with a solution and agonized over it. Then, in 2015, when Mr. Ogino asked me, “Is there anything fastening products for Building Sheet?” I thought, “What if we used fastening products for Building Sheet?” I thought that this would save time and manpower, as there would be no need to unite them.
I remember that time well because i wanted to use fastening products in the construction industry, but i had no knowledge of the industry and had no idea what problems the construction industry was facing or how YKK technology could be used to solve them. I decided to ask Mr. Kurakawa for his professional advice, and he give me a great idea. Based on Mr. Kurakawa’s idea, we inmediately started the project.
The most important thing in the development process was the voice of the field.
- Where did you start the project?
The first thing we did was conduct in-dept interviews. The most important for us when creating new products is to create somenthing truly useful. For this reason, we ask in detail what the issues were, why they were ocurring, and how they wanted to use the fastening by incorporating them.
In order to work smoothly, we used a zipper that is easy to open and close. We also put a lot of effort into adjusting the angle.
In this disscusing this with Mr. Ogino, we conclued that the most important thing ease opening and closing. That’s why i told him to use a zipper with a smooth sliding slider and a large puller. In addition, since the purpose of folding the curing sheet is to eliminate the influence of wind, we also requested that the zippers be attached to the sheet in a U-shape and that the corners be as right-angled as possible to reduce wind resistance, in order to increase that can be opened.
We took Mr. Kurakawa’s opinions back to our company and started working on a prototype. What kind of zipper would be easy to open and close at construction sites? What kind of material would be suitable for outdoor use? We collaborated with other sales staff and development staff to study these questions over and over again.
- How did you proceed from the production of prototype to finishes good?
After much trial and error, we proposed six prototypes with different zipper sizes, U-shaped angles, and sewing methods. We asked the staff onsite to help us choose wich sheet would be easiest to use.
- You gace the priority to the feedback from the field, even when it came to completion of the project.
It’s right, it would be meaningless if the result will be different from what we imagined or difficult to use, so i decided to let the people who would actually use the product choose without any discovery.
We gathered a total of about 20 staff members and asked them for their honest opinions. As we had anticipated, those with large pulls and smooth sliding sliders were the most popular. On the other hand, what was surprising was that, when sewing the zipper into the U-shape on the curing sheet, the votes were cast for an obtuse angle rather than a right angle. We had thought that right-angled zippers would be preferred because they have a larger opening area, but we realized that they would not be as smooth to open and close.
By listening to the voices of the field, we were able to discover new perspectives. Based on everyone’s opinions, we finally decided on a sheet using Coil Fastener No.10, wich is flexible and strong.
I truly believe that this sheet was not born on the desk, but in the field. I’m very grateful to Mr. Ogino for leaning on me this far.
Thank you very much. We are able to complete the project thanks to your supoort without of single look of displeasure, despite the many times we asked to visit the construction site or to have time to discuss the project with you.
Solving the problem of Building Sheet at once. Further expanding the range of utilization.
Convetional Building Sheet required two people to work because two sheets were joined and tied together, but sheets using fastening products can be opened and closed by one person.
- How do you feel when you actually used the completed curing sheet on site?
It’s been tremendous help. Because of small number of people can fold the sheets at once, the work time has been reduced to about one-third of what it used to be. We now have more manpower and time, so we can focus o other tasks.
It’s to convenient that we even get requests from workers to sell these sheets to our company as well (laughs). Even if a typhoon, has derivated from the path after the sheet has already been folded, because of the ease with wich recovery work can be carried out, i think it contributates to the motivation of staff and the ground.
The benefits are not limited to the workplace. Our ability to respond quickly in emergency situations, including strong winds and typhoons, has led to a sense of trust among our customers. As a result, more and more customer feel confident in our company’s ability to respond to their needs.
- It’s having a much bigger effect than you can imagine.
That’s right. And not only as a Building Sheet. They are also useful in other ways. For exemple, we use it as temporary separator for balconies when repairing apartaments. because it can be easily opened and closed with a zipper, it saves time for workers to go back and forth across the balcony and makes the work smoother.
Im very happy that you are expanding your field of activity and demostrating your value in other areas.
It’s still to early to celebrate (laughs). If we can mass-produce more of these sheets, the possibilites will expand even further. A prime example is work on high-rise condominiums, where repairs can take more than a half a year. If the Building Sheet are folded up when work is stopped for long holidays, such as during the Golden Week holidays and the year-end and New Year holidays, the balcony will get more sunlight, wich will make it easier for laundry to dry, and we think this will provide a comfortable living environment for the residents.
That’s really encourangin. I think it’s precisely because you know the construction industry so well that you can come up with ideas like this. I would like to continue to receive feedback and do my best to further improve the sheet’s performance.