One of Japan’s largest expressway operators is developing next-generation monitoring and maintenance technologies for overseas markets.
Boasting nearly seven decades of experience, the East Nippon Expressway Company (E-NEXCO) specializes in the construction, management, and maintenance of expressways in eastern Japan. It currently monitors some 4,000km of roadway.
“We were founded in 1956 as the Japan Highway Corporation,” says President Toru Obata. “In 2005, the company was privatized and E-NEXCO was established. In the first few years, we focused on managing and organizing expressways and overseeing the construction of routes and transportation infrastructure. In the last 10 years, however, we’ve diversified our activities and begun conducting maintenance and renovation projects, developing leading technologies to update and enhance existing expressways.”
In 2019, E-NEXCO’s growing global influence saw it establish an Indian subsidiary, E-NEXCO INDIA (ENI). “ENI is currently bringing E-NEXCO technologies to India, conducting related research, and providing support for Japanese companies entering the Indian market,” Mr. Obata says. Among the technologies introduced in India is the E-NEXCO Eye, a Network Survey Vehicle tasked with detecting and measuring road conditions―including International Roughness Index data (IRI; an index of ride quality), cracks, and rutting. “ENI took E-NEXCO Eye equipment that’s actually used on Japanese expressways and customized it to local specifications together with Indian road operators and others,” Mr. Obata explains.
“The E-NEXCO Eye’s most important feature is that it provides both availability and accuracy. Conventional methods require manual work during the daytime and under traffic restrictions. This leads to various problems, including obstruction of traffic, danger to workers, and prolonged work periods. However, the E-NEXCO Eye can accurately acquire data in just one trip while traveling at a maximum speed of 100km/h. What’s more, it uses lasers that can take measurements at night and is equipped with rotating lights and indicator boards for safety. E-NEXCO Eye’s advantages of speed, safety and precision make it the best measurement method in India, a country experiencing growing demand for advanced pavement management.”
Internationally, E-NEXCO’s expertise has led it to consult on official development assistance (ODA) projects in developing countries such as India and Myanmar. “As an example, we worked with local government ministries and agencies to execute a capacity-building project for sustainable mountain road development in India,” Mr. Obata says. “We have also dispatched long-term experts on highway construction, maintenance, and policy support through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Moreover, we accept road engineers from developing countries through the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport (MLIT) and Tourism and JICA, and provide them with training in Japan.
“In addition, we work with ASFiNAG of Austria, with whom we have a technical cooperation agreement, as well as road-related organizations in various countries to inspect sites and exchange views on on‐road technology.”
In FY2021‐22, employees of E-NEXCO and its Group companies participated in various international conferences. They included such academic gatherings as an international road conference of the World Road Association (PIARC) in Calgary, a technical seminar organized by the Indian Road Congress (IRC), and the Japan-India Road Exchange Conference. The participants used those opportunities to gather information on the world’s expressway technologies and disseminate information on E-NEXCO Group technologies and know-how overseas.
“Looking at the future, we’re sincerely interested in rolling out such technologies internationally, with a special focus on Southeast Asia,” adds Mr. Obata. “We will continually strive to take our overseas business even further by making maximum use of our expressway technology and know-how.”