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‘NASA-Style’ Control Rooms to Improve Performance & Reduce Waste in Construction


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Ben Davies

The construction industry is infamous for delays, omissions, overruns, and often spiralling costs. Some 80% of large projects globally experience cost and programme overruns. When Berlin's new Brandburg Airport opened, it was 8 years late and 4bn over budget.

There are many examples of management reporting in the AEC industry, but they all share a consistent challenge. One-off project-specific solutions, that are neither repeatable nor scalable. This is underpinned by the industry suffering from complexity of exchanging, aggregating, and analysing project Management and control information. Such complexity prevents high-frequency, fact-based and data-centric project management.

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Figure 1: Large Mission Room display used to explain the latest project progress via 3D Repo to a group of AEC professionals.

Led by Mace, a consortium of partners including 3D Repo, Imperial College, University College London, eviFile, and Mission Room, joined forces to create a solution that will improve the performance of construction in the UK through increased transparency and project benchmarking. Known as the AEC Production Control Room, the solution aims to deliver a standardised approach to business intelligence and project metrics visualisation.

Due to be completed by May 2022, the AEC Production Control Room will help UK construction be more efficient and proactive rather than reactive, with a scalable and repeatable ‘plug-and-play’ construction management and reporting platform. Clients, planners, site managers, and engineers will be able to track real-time project performance and take action based on insights. These stakeholders will, for the first time, be able to objectively compare what was planned versus what has been delivered.

A feedback loop will enable predictive analytics such as early risk warnings, benchmarking across different portfolio projects and continuous 4D planning. All information will be set out clearly in both physical and digital space so that the parties involved can either collaborate remotely, or in person within the AEC Production Control Room on site.

Recent advancements in Web3D technology have enabled interactive visualisation of complex 3D building information modelling (BIM) files in web browsers. Integrating that with powerful business intelligence tools such as Microsoft Power BI and AirTable, as well as easy to use automation tools such as Microsoft Power Automate and Zappier using REST APIs creates a suitable solution for real-time project management in the cloud.

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Figure 2: Data collected on-site via mobile devices will be sent back to the AEC Production Control Room to give live feedback.

The project partners will also integrate 3D Repo with evidence-based process management platform, eviFile to control progress on site. As illustrated in Fig. 1, the solution will be made up of touch-enabled projectors and multiple immersive displays by Mission Room that will present comparable project metrics such as EIR and RFI coordination, health and safety data, evidence-based task management, business intelligence, and 4D planning. The Mission Room displays are especially popular in the rail and highway sector in the UK and are used to give greater depth of insight to a site or project, perform rehearsals and walk-throughs of complex models and bids, or deliver powerful and unique experience through immersive and engaging 360° media.

The target audience for the technology are clients, planners, site managers and engineers in need of project performance and productivity tracking. The main benefits include:

  • Improved communication and collaboration between construction partners and clients;
  • Improved productivity, quality and performance through better visibility and forecasting;
  • Improved resource allocation, project management and waste reduction;
  • Improved information sharing within and between project delivery partners and supply chain;
  • Identification of new business and delivery models that shape and help disseminate efficiency methods to the supply chain.

A proof of concept is expected in May 2021. People interested in becoming beta testers are being encouraged to contact support@3drepo.com

Visit https://3drepo.com for more info.

Further project updates will be given via blogs in the DT Hub along the way.

Edited by Ben Davies
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