Is BIM suitable for autonomous construction scheduling?

Autonomous Construction Scheduling

Nov 30, 2017 -- For entire building construction industry, much of the work relies on efficient management of capital assets and professionals engaged in operating them. A poorly planned schedule or an unstructured estimate of construction costs end up with troubles in form of fatalities, risks and overhead costs.

However, BIM being accepted widely across building construction industry, backed with 4D simulation capabilities with Navisworks and Revit, have brought down the count of haphazard construction planning, drastically. Virtual Designs and Construction in BIM, has enabled designers to eliminate design bottlenecks and deliver quality projects.

On the other hand, BIM is becoming more compatible with other advanced technologies including various mobile applications and cloud computing. This fine blend has changed the way engineers design and maintain the infrastructure. But we still have to stick along the way until construction industry get completely stable and open to these construction methods owing to several challenges.

Roadblock to implementing computerized monitoring

Enlisted are some of the major factors causing roadblocks to manage and plan computerized activities of 

  • Non-coordinated spatial information with BIM  

Managing and planning safety risks are prime activities that need special attention from contractors, surveyors and site engineers, in order to manage & smoothens the progress of construction works. However, current practices for safety planning aren’t very accountable for spatial information.

In fact not only smooth progress, integrating safety is inevitable to make activities more effective and site-specific. For instance, when plumbing and electrical works start progressing together at a particular spot, it increases the risk of accidents. When earth moving activities and bricklaying activities or site cleaning occurs together even more severe risks are involved. What we thus lack is a proper planning accounting for spatial information leveraged enough by using 4D BIM.  

  • Lacking resources

We say our building and infrastructure construction industry has adopted 3D BIM modeling and construction management with BIM, but we fail to acknowledge the fact that this 3D BIM lays its foundation upon 2D drawings and paper blueprints. This, still prevalent traditional approaches, adds a cap over the capabilities of computerized planning and analyzing risks. When a surveyor and engineer schedules and estimates cost based on such information, they eventually end up having inaccuracies.

However, a close integration of information technology with the BIM platform architecture could eliminate this limitation but that is a long road considering the fact that BIM is a very complex platform in terms of information technology.

  • Inherent imperfection in data obtained

More often than ever, construction sites are now equipped with sensors to increase the safety, sensors that detect the proximity of machines, temperature, and likes. Based on the sensor data collected, safe construction scheduling is sketched. However, there is a little assumption often overlooked that we always assume that the data collected is authentic and 100% correct.

It isn’t that the data isn’t accurate but at times it is ambiguous and misleading. It so happens, that sensor may detect a gap in construction will not be able to account whether it is hazardous or accident prone. This keeps from autonomous planning being implemented on full-scale since the data received is just too good to be true in its entirety. 4D BIM doesn’t have intelligence to detect this sort of loopholes and hence the sequencing generated are also not fully compliant to be implemented. 

Future is likely to be all autonomous

When the entire construction firm adopts BIM for design coordination, taking it to the next level of construction sequencing becomes easier. It also eliminates the first and the foremost major roadblock of integrating spatial information with designs.

Secondly, 4D BIM simulation will run a screening play of safety measures of simultaneous activities and mitigates the risk even if they are carried out at the same time. The scheduling will prioritize the tasks based on accurate 3D modeling and extract spatial information from it cartel it with the ones captured by UAVs and drones. It will clearly diversify the intended gaps in construction from the hazards or accident prone areas.

These same drones can extract information during the construction stage which can come in handy to verify the data collected through sensors pertaining to temperature rise or fall on site and its cause for one instance. When the information from drones is populated in BIM, it prevents major safety risks of injury due to the operation of heavy machinery on site.

With dedicated planning and scheduling, technologies such as modeling and sensing can be linked to having drastic positive changes on construction site risk management. Although there are still challenges in the way to have an autonomous site planning but once implemented, it will settle several issues for contractors and construction firms.

We still have a long way to go before 4D BIM can go fully autonomous with new incoming technologies and the very time of it is pretty uncertain. But one thing is for sure that future will be autonomous and construction firms and contractors having a loosely implemented BIM now will face challenges later.

About Author:

Gaurang Trivedi is engineering consultant at TrueCADD. Besides, donning multiple hats, as a website manager and marketing in charge, he also oversees the editorial content, coordinating and managing the website, its news sections, blogs and social media promotions as well.

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