Every project start with the best intentions. The ideal schedule gets posted and distributed in the office, in the site trailer and throughout the site. Things go great until the weather turn poor or the client changes their mind about some minute or huge detail. Suddenly, the perfectly planned schedule runs far behind and you have a budget to contain. If you haven’t already tried pull planning, combine it with three emerging construction innovations to keep things on track.
Pull planning works backwards from the project end date to plan each phase to beginning. It may sound backwards, but working in reverse reveals key deadlines for the whole construction team.
Pull planning involves all personnel. It requires a representative from every contractor or sub-contractor, the client, architect, engineer, planner, etc. Working backwards from the deadline shows the inter-connections and inter-dependencies between crews. Involving all stakeholders in the planning eliminates miscommunication. In the planning phase and once construction begins, augmented and virtual reality can help.
1. Augmented and Virtual Reality
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stand inside the finished project from day one? What if you could move bits and pieces, a timber here, a girder there, to experiment with design changes or model what potential delay means?
Augmented reality lets you walk through an existing environment, add information to it and interact with its pieces. Virtual reality lets you walk through a completely finished 3D or 4D rendering of the project. This provides an interactive capability to experience design changes and model changes live.
For example, the augmented reality iOS app, MeasureKit lets you point an iPhone or iPad at a building component and interact it on screen in three ways:
- place objects.
Another app, BIM 360 Glue enables you to point a mobile device at a building component and obtain information on it from the 3D models laid against the image.
4D virtual environments enable planning of each aspect of a construction project, including daily activities of adjacent facilities that impact scheduling. Winter Construction used 4D virtual models to plan projects, including an airport hotel, and a zoo parking and entertainment complex. The VR model let client, crew leaders and other key stakeholders see how daily airport flight paths and patterns, take offs and landing schedules would impact hotel construction. On the zoo project, the VR model let the Winter team experience the schedule impacts of the of zoo animals’ daily needs and schedule. These experiential views and walk throughs also enhanced onsite safety when work commenced by planning around adjacent site impacts.
2. Machine Learning
Machine learning continues to grow in usefulness in many industries and it now contributes to construction safety. The cloud app, Smartvid.io, aggregates visual data from the job site, like photos and videos, and analyzes it for marketing, progress tracking, quality and safety. Rather than drawing from a single source, the construction team as a whole can contribute photos, videos and other visual data. It continuously updates its analysis as crew adds new data. The app tags items by room, associating them with their plan data. Accessible from anywhere with a Internet connection, this lets staff in the on site trailer or the architect conferring with the client the ability to visually interact with the site and its related data.
Prefabrication continues to develop new methods for construction improvements, including further improvements to 3D printers and apps that provide insight into the prefabrication process.
For example, ManufactOn’s mobile app lets you view each step in the prefabrication process. Every project member can view the item manufactured, its place in the process, and its delivery date.
The app integrates with others, such as BIM 360 Docs. Integrated with the Docs app, you can view all information in a single workflow from start to finish.
Regardless of how well prepared the schedule, things go wrong. Plan ahead for it by creating a /contingency schedule. You post the best case scenario schedule for everyone. Secretly, you and the client develop and have the contingency schedule based on a worst, or at least worse, case scenario. Better information and communications can help you maintain schedule. These three innovations coupled with pull planning can help you stay on schedule.