Pacific-Consultants-check-dam-Dassault Systèmes®

Pacific Consultants

The company adopted the 3DEXPERIENCE platform for design automation and knowledge sharing, using the Civil Infrastructure Engineering industry solution to connect the dots between design, engineering and infrastructure maintenance as well as improve productivity and reform work styles.

Consultants want to do more than just build something...
Infrastructure projects continue to evolve and so do we.

Fujii-PCKK-Dassault Systèmes
Hisaya Fujii
Senior Executive Officer, Director and Head of Osaka headquarters

Infrastructure design, future-proof

Few countries in the world are more prone to natural disasters than Japan. Located over four tectonic plates and with three-quarters of its land mass covered by mountains and hills, the nation’s unique geography, topography and climate makes it particularly vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and landslides. As climate change increases the frequency of these major disasters, protecting Japan’s 128.5 million population has become even more of a national priority.

For residents living in Japan’s mountainous terrain and directly below in the plains, landslide prevention is critical for their safety. Among its many areas of expertise, Japanese civil engineering firm Pacific Consultants designs erosion control weirs, also known as check dams, which directly stop mud and landslides. Driven by its vision “Turning the power of technology into hope for the future,” Pacific Consultants uses its wealth of engineering know-how to deliver comprehensive protection systems and infrastructure that contributes to the sustainable development of society.

“At Pacific Consultants, we’re not simply about building infrastructure,” said Hisaya Fujii, Senior Executive Officer, Director and Head of Osaka Headquarters at Pacific Consultants. “Our company handled the construction of the various Shinkansen bullet train lines all over Japan and delivered engineering consulting services for all the expressways, as well as the Tokyo international airports, Haneda and Narita. Our job is to consider the people who use the infrastructure and how it will impact their lives and the future.”

As the scale and scope of Pacific Consultants' engineering projects continues to grow, the company is keen to adopt state-of-the-art technologies and new ways of working, both to improve productivity, empower its employees and retain its competitive edge. When Pacific Consultants partnered with Dassault Systèmes, its aim was to manage civil engineering projects more efficiently and accurately, and find more effective ways of capturing and sharing knowledge – all while keeping costs under control, and avoiding the maintenance of servers and supporting infrastructure. The company also wanted to be agile in adding more functionality and capabilities that will scale with its business needs.

“The cloud version can be purchased on a subscription basis, avoiding the burden of a fixed asset.  Another advantage of using the cloud is that there is no need to have a dedicated person for IT management, and the latest technology is always available,” Fujii said.

“One of the biggest reasons we moved to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was for its parametric modeling capabilities. The appeal of parametric design is that there is no need to start from zero every time you create or amend a design, so you can work more efficiently. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform also enables all data to be centrally managed. If we can share information seamlessly via a consistent 3D-based digital flow, we can remove many inefficient processes.”

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s parametric modeling feature contributes to a seamless design process.

Transitioning to 3D modeling

In recent years, the Japanese government has widely promoted the benefits of building information modelling (BIM) for the civil engineering industry, but Pacific Consultants hopes to take its adoption a step further.

“The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan is taking the lead in promoting BIM for civil engineering to improve productivity,” said Kikuchi Masato, engineer from the Erosion Control department at Pacific Consultants. “However, most BIM models are still created from 2D drawings, which is an extraordinarily time-consuming process. For example, when designing a check dam, we would create a drawing based on a proposed height and then examine whether it would meet the requirements and achieve the target, and if not, we would have to start again from scratch. With the adoption of the platform, we can begin that process in 3D to design a virtual twin and work from the same digital model throughout an engineering project.”

As engineers move towards 3D modelling in CATIA on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, they appreciate the ability to see their designs come to life in the highest possible detail, backed up by accurate data.

“It’s great to be able to visualize the design and engineering process, seeing what the design knowledge template looks like, how it is configured, and how it generates a new variation,” Kikuchi said. “It puts things in order and then builds a program.”

Now, when a change or correction is made to a part of the 3D model, it is no longer necessary to manually update the structural design and all output drawings; it is done automatically.

“It’s amazing to have this transparency and have an understanding of the process,” said Yasushi Ito, principal engineer in the Quality and Technology Development at Pacific Consultants.

It used to take us about an hour to calculate the volume of sediment for a single check dam... the same calculation can now be done in three seconds on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Ito-PCKK-Dassault Systèmes
Yasushi Ito
Principal Engineer, Quality and Technology Development Department

Effective solutions, faster

Using the 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud platform, Pacific Consultants now comes up with new infrastructure designs and analyses much faster than before.

“Until recently, we used 2D drawings to calculate sediment volume, for example,” Kikuchi said. “The volume differs depending on the cross section, so to compare different patterns we had to create multiple drawings. Using 3D models enabled by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, our calculations have become more efficient and accurate.”

“It used to take us about an hour to calculate the volume of sediment for a single check dam when we only used 2D drawings,” Ito said. “With the virtual twin in infrastructure design and engineering, the same calculation can now be done in a few seconds on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. This ability to obtain the necessary information instantly has enabled us to improve the accuracy of our review process and significantly reduce the time required for it.”

This new speed is critical when natural disasters occur and protection measures need to be put in place urgently.

“It generally takes a week to calculate 300 meters of soil volume in one line for road design, and now it’s done in a day,” Ito said. “When an emergency such as a landslide occurs and the race is on to repair a dam as quickly as possible, we can propose suitable solutions instantly and make informed decisions.”

It’s also important that Pacific Consultants is able to accurately estimate the cost of such countermeasures and reduce costs where possible.

“This involves calculating quantities and previously required us to draw many different patterns, all within a very short period of time,” said Hiroshi Suzuki, manager of i-Construction Promotion Center, Quality and Technology Development department at Pacific Consultants. “Now, we can put a 3D model in front of the various stakeholders like the landowner and the company managing the project and say, ‘This is what will happen.'”

The 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud platform made it possible to easily share revised content and standards throughout the company.

Retaining and sharing knowledge

Pacific Consultants' vast and diverse engineering expertise has earned the company a strong reputation in Japan and on the global stage. Retaining that expertise and handing it onto the next generation, however, required a fresh approach.

“We’ve always had a master and disciple system that has resulted in knowledge and skills being passed down,” Fujii said. “It isn’t that the past framework for imparting skills is no longer working. I think it has more to do with the shift towards working remotely. It makes it harder for skilled professionals to pass technology and skills onto beginners.”

Pacific Consultants is building a knowledge database and comprehensive design knowledge templates on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform so that engineers can share their ideas and expertise in a more structured way.

“We are trying to accumulate the wisdom of the company’s skilled professionals within Pacific Consultants so that it isn’t lost,” Fujii said. “The 3DEXPERIENCE platform supports us to gather the knowledge possessed by specific individuals in a single place and make it accessible to everyone for the benefit of the whole organization.”

Kikuchi shared an example: “If you want to build an erosion control weir in Aichi Prefecture, you have to build it according to the standards there,” he explained. “We have created a knowledge template that captures all of our best practice knowledge for building erosion control weirs in that specific region. It’s saving us significant time."

“It’s helping us to train new employees too,” Kikuchi added. “The model we are using in the check dam project is created in the same order as the design of the erosion control weir, so if we show this 3D model to new employees and tell them the process, they can understand how to create it themselves.”

Until recently, we used 2D drawings to calculate sediment volume… Using 3D models enabled by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, our calculations have become more efficient and accurate.

Kikuchi-PCKK-Dassault Systèmes
Kikuchi Masato
Engineer, Erosion Control Department

Time for innovative thinking

In 2019, Japan tightened regulations on long working hours and workplace inequalities. Companies like Pacific Consultants have responded by embracing work style reforms and helping employees find a healthy work-life balance by empowering them to work more productively.

“Consultants want to do more than just build something,” Fujii said. “We want to use our imagination and perceptiveness. Rather than working how we always have, we’re trying out completely different ideas and methods. Infrastructure projects continue to evolve and so do we.”

“Because I no longer have to do all the drawing and trial work, I have more time to take on new challenges,” Kikuchi added. “The hope is that our employees will develop new technology and solutions using the spare time that is now available thanks to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.”

As the company pursues its vision to turn the power of technology into hope for the future, Pacific Consultants plans to use data more strategically to build sustainable infrastructure.

“We’re actively engaged in decarbonizing our projects and the industry as a whole and will be directly involved in each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through our “Pacific Net Zero” initiatives,” Fujii said. “We are talking about using cement that absorbs carbon dioxide. We are already developing a system in which we absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through our own projects, then using that to offset the CO2 emissions of developing countries.”

Ultimately, Fujii believes that openness and continuity of data are key to unlocking the full potential of the construction industry. The different ENOVIA apps offer the possibility for teams to collaborate and share designs, documentation and workflows.

“Being able to carry out consulting while considering changes to a different way of thinking is something that is going to be needed from now on,” Fujii concluded. “Soon, we hope to compete not solely based on our designs but on how we take advantage of all the data available to us to build truly sustainable and resilient infrastructures and smart cities.”

Pacific-Consultants-logo-Dassault Systèmes

Focus on Pacific Consultants

Founded in 1951, Pacific Consultants is a leading construction consultancy offering services focused on infrastructure engineering. The company’s team of over 1,300 registered consultant engineers and other highly specialized, accomplished professionals is committed to providing value to its clients through trusted technologies and services, drawing on knowledge, rich experience, and creativity in a wide range of fields. With a vision of “turning the power of technology into hope for the future,” Pacific Consultants plans to use its wealth of engineering expertise to contribute to the sustainable development of society.

For more information: www.pacific.co.jp/e/