Compared with other industries such as finance or retail, the construction industry always builds in a dynamic environment that is never the same, which makes it extremely hard to capture and digitize spatial and non-structural data. However, advancement in digital technology is slowly changing the situation, and gradually redefining how construction can be done.
The need for digital transformation in the construction industry is growing. The transformation is about connected data, linking and mapping different procedures, such that it could be streamlined, automated or even be able to generate new business models. Building a common data environment that centralizes all digital data captured at different stages of construction projects will help us take this leap in digital transformation, and create new opportunities for the construction industry. The following section will discuss a real life 3 years Integrated Project Management (IPM) strategy based on a cloud based digital twin platform. However, name of projects are hidden to protect client’s privacy.
Connected Data In Construction
The integrated data stream starts from site surveying, then design stage all the way down to construction and data analytics. Different technologies are adopted at different stages to capture data, create a connected data stream to link up all procedures, and centralized in Digital Twin Platform. Processes are streamlined, automated, and sometimes even create new opportunities or procedures. The following sections will discuss the benefit of integrated data, and how connected data could improve construction management works with some practical innovation examples.
Reality capture and Borehole GIS
Data is captured even before any construction design work is started. For existing structure or topographic surveying, it is very often to use laser scanning and photogrammetry to rebuild the above ground condition in 3D model. This model will be stored in cloud digital twin platform, so that designers can access site information easily and carry out precise design.
Design in BIM
After getting surrounding 3D environment from IDPD portal, designers can interpret this information, and append design information on top of 3D spatial data. Using parametric BIM design procedure, designers connect their design calculation directly to BIM through dynamo script or other plugins.
With this parametric approach, designers could generate a BIM model within a relatively short period of time and at lower cost. Different parties can add their information into the model, and collaborate to eliminate interfacing risks
Everyone knows BIM is important, but bringing the cost down is the only way to make it practical and useful. The key is to control the flow of digital spatial data properly at different stage of construction, and this can only be done with a good cloud based digital twin platform. With all the data exchange workflows and training in place, it is possible for construction companies to create BIM model at a relatively low price, and prepare a model for every single tender. Tender estimating and quantity take off can be done directly from digital twin platform with built in function, extracting concrete volume, steel tonnage, excavation volume calculation etc. against company standard.
Construction Progress E-Data
BIM data is then passed to construction phase for 4D planning. Planning information is added on top of 3D model data to visualize construction sequence, inspecting conflict in construction plant logistic, haul road design etc.
Companies also set up its E-data system to capture and monitor site progress. With mobile apps and other user interface 29
developed, operation teams can easily update their information to cloud digital twin platform, a single source of truth for site progress. The as-built progress is compared against planned progress prepared in 4D, triggering alert if progress does not go as planned. The project management team can trace the full record of all construction progress, and literally see the history in 4D digital twin without duplication or lost record. Different teams can easily see the progress of other teams, hence improving collaboration and avoid confusion.
Different reports and dashboards are directly linked to E-data system, hence project manager can access information anytime and anywhere.
IoT for labor and plant tracking
Other than planning and progress data, construction companies also collect construction plant efficiency data and labor productivity data with IoT technology.
Different sensors are installed on various types of equipment, collecting data regarding operation hour, idling status, location, fuel consumption, rotation speed, temperature, pressure etc. This information gives projects more control on different equipment, and assists in understanding how well operation teams are utilizing project resource.
Beside plant and equipment tracking, labor is another important resource for construction projects. Understanding the behavior and productivity of workers is critical for construction project management.
Bluetooth beacons or CCTV are installed on site to monitor labor count. Workers’ attendance and location are tracked, and correlate with progress data to calculate the productivity of workers.
All data including design data, planning data, progress data, labor, plant and equipment are centralized indigital twin platform, and reconstruction in 3D model for project teams to visualize, collaborate and manage project progress, achieving digital project management.
Productivity analysis and Risk Evaluation
Data generated from construction life cycle, starting from site survey, design, planning, procurement, down to construction as-built record are captured in a common data environment. This allows joining multiple data sources together, and helps to discover more insight from a holistic view, e.g. combining progress data with plant drilling sensor data and GI data to investigate the performance and productivity of equipment under different stradum, or the variation/risk in different area.
These data also support more advanced machine learning analysis to determine program risk based on historical piling data and variation. People can use data from the past to predict the future.
Digital Twin as CDE
All connected data stored in a common data environment are streamed to a 4D visualization engine, and reconstruct a digital twin with parametric approach. Information including construction progress and plant location will be streamed to a digital twin and presented in 4D a graphical way.
This model will update automatically as data change. Project team and top management could monitor and communicate site progress directly in a single BIM environment, which is easier to understand and communicate, also eliminating ambiguity and miscommunication. Digital twin platform is the core of the whole IPM strategy, and the CDE platform for communication, data exchange and data processing. For more information of the platform, please visit: www.varadise.cloud/
This paper briefly describe an example of integrated data, and how it can be applied in the construction industry. Data stream should start from the very beginning of the construction life cycle, going from design and planning down to construction. Information should be transferred to subsequent parties seamlessly, such that each party can use the information directly, and append new information into the data stream for the next party. Seamless project information integration can also help project management team to understand the actual site situation and make a well informed decision.
Individual innovation is eye catching, and can bring benefits to the industry, but most benefit will be generated by integrated data. In some cases, connected data can create new processes, such as advanced analytics mentioned above, or even new business opportunities and transform how construction works could be done.
The example above was a 3 year transformation program. Besides technology development and implementing digital twin, more effort is actually spent on creating company data standard, training and cultural change. Digital transformation is in fact not the transformation of technology, but the transformation of people.
It is not always easy to do data exchange across multiple parties. However, this is the ultimate problem that the construction industry needs to solve if it wants to go through digital transformation and generate more value for the society.