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Builders Buying Private Weather Data to Cut Costs

Posted March. 16, 2010 09:10,   


Ten construction companies buy weather information from weather service providers and offer it to their employees via Intranet or cell phones.

They send weather forecasts for construction sites across the country to front-line workers every hour. They also text weather data via cell phones for immediate response in the event of unpredictable weather in an environment where computers are unavailable, such as during business trips.

Weather information on a specific construction site from weather service providers is said to be more accurate than that of the Korea Meteorological Administration, which provides forecasts for each administrative district.

Kim Jong-guk, deputy general manager of weather service provider Kweather, said, “Since construction sites require data for a narrower scope of region, we offer information different from that of the Korea Meteorological Administration.”

Each construction company spends 200 million to 300 million won (176,258 to 264,387 U.S. dollars) on weather information. Since weather change can be extreme, a weather service provider spends 10 million won (8,812 dollars) a year on one site such as a coastal bridge to build its own measuring equipment.

Since construction companies can save more than three billion won (2.6 million dollars) per year by reducing additional repair work and preventing fatal accidents, more of them are buying weather information.

○ Threat of unpredictable weather

At construction sites where unpredictable weather patterns can significantly damage overall work, more accurate “weather management” is required.

Danish weather service provider DHI is participating in the construction of the Busan-Geoje Bridge, a project led by Daewoo E&C. To build a 3.7-kilometer undersea tunnel that accounts for half of the bridge linking Gadeok Island off Busan to Geoje Island in South Gyeongsang Province, the swell height must be below 40 centimeters and the wind-driven wave height must be lower than 80 centimeters for more than 72 hours.

Only then the four-lane, 180-meter part of the tunnel can be put under 40 meters from the surface and be connected to another piece. Unexpected changes in waves could dislocate or damage the piece, which costs more than 10 billion won (8.8 million dollar).

To find the right conditions lasting for 72 hours, Daewoo Institute of Construction Technology sets up measuring equipment for wind direction and speed, temperature and rainfall, and sends the information to DHI. The Danish company then analyzes the data and recommends the appropriate time when to build the immersed tunnel.

A manager at the construction site said, “A strike used to be the biggest cause of delaying construction in the past, but now, nothing is more threatening than unpredictable weather patterns.”