Seminar "The Future of Construction Process" (2021)
Author / Photos: Alexander Bender
The indent of digitization in the construction industry has recently opened a wide range of op-portunities for optimizing construction processes and managing these tasks. The global construc-tion industry, whether small and medium-sized companies, expect this to result in more efficient construction processes and a reduction in time and costs. In addition, the susceptibility to errors in planning and construction processes, as well as wastage of raw materials, should be reduced. The automation of processes and the use of robotics can also reduce the workload of the human workforce. This year, for the second time, leading companies and research institutes in the field of digitization presented their approaches, research results and product developments at the seminar "The Future of Construction Processes".
Future issues for construction management and operation
The Austrian Association of Engineers and Architects (ÖIAV) is concerned with data chains in construction operations and their use in digitization. The ÖIAV is convinced that data analyses will make a significant contribution to the optimization of construction processes in the future. In the future, a continuous data chain should be established for construction projects from the start of planning, through tendering, construction, use and demolition. To achieve this, defined interfaces are required between the players involved, such as the planner, builder, or contractor. In each project phase, several parties are involved with diverse work activities, each of which generates important data for themselves. In the sense of the presentation by representatives of the ÖIAV, these can be reproduced as follows. If construction work is to be carried out on the existing building, laser scanners are suitable for generating a digital image of the building in the form of a point cloud. This can then be used to create a 3D-model. If it is a new building, the plan-ning should be carried out immediately with a BIM-model. During construction, for example, data is continuously generated by construction machines via detectors, probes, and sensors, which can be evaluated and visualized on end devices. In facility management, during the operat-ing phase of an object, meaningful data must also be recorded digitally to be able to optimize the operating mode if necessary. With the data, the quality and not the quantity should always be in the foreground. The ÖIAV sees itself as one of those Austrian institutions that defines the form in which data is to be recorded or passed on to ensure interoperability between the individual par-ties. In the international context, this task is performed by buildingSMART.
The company Resultantz is dedicated to the management system of Lean Construction. The Lean philosophy was derived from the Toyota Production System and stands for respectful in-teraction, process optimization, reduction of downtime and waste, and continuous improve-ment. In construction projects, this management technique is intended to counteract construc-tion delays and inefficient processes. For this purpose, the two methods Last Planner System and Takt-Time Planning were presented during the seminar. In the Last Planner System, the project is always considered simultaneously in different time horizons and levels of detail. In Overall Pro-cess Analysis, for example, the project must be considered over its entire course, while in Weekly Work Planning only one work week must be considered. From the different time horizons, it can be quickly detected when which tasks are to be completed and processes can be structured more efficiently. Finally, the previous weeks are evaluated and, if necessary, changes are made for the future weeks. In Takt-Time Planning, the synchronization of construction processes that are al-ways the same, plays a central role. This involves the efficient layout of different work activities, for example floor-by-floor or on a grid in the plane. Based on the planned measures, several trades can work efficiently at the same time, which helps to save construction time.
Developments for the construction industry
The company CONTAKT provides digital tools that can significantly increase productivity in the construction process. In the seminar, one possibility was presented of how formwork work can be optimized. This involves working with tact planning. At the beginning, a 3D-model of the building must be created. The building model can then be loaded onto the CONTAKT project plat-form. Worker status and material properties are added to the building model and linked to the corresponding concrete components. On the construction site, the formwork elements must be equipped with a CONTAKT sensor, which enables networking with the project platform and data recording. During construction, the sensor on the formwork is used for permanent monitoring. Productivity can thus be easily monitored on the end device. If the construction process does not proceed as planned, corrections can be made promptly.
The software company eguana has specialized in digital data monitoring in the field of ge-otechnics and tunnel construction. The software offers a solution from recording to evaluation, analysis, and documentation. Thus, the construction process in civil engineering can be opti-mized in a promising way. Application areas of the software are Drainage Monitoring, Retaining and Support Walls, Monitoring of Buildings, Dams and Tunnels. The software covers all process steps from data acquisition by sensors to analysis, documentation and export of the data. A focus is the visualization of the recorded data. Examples of this are illustrated in Fig. 1. A major ad-vantage of the program is its BIM capability. This makes it possible to integrate it into existing construction project models. The software has already proven its worth in several civil engineer-ing and tunnel construction projects. For the future, considerations are already being made re-garding machine learning, predictive maintenance and artificial intelligence.
The third presenting software company, Insite IT, specializes in material tracking and con-struction site management. The software is used not only for large projects in the construction industry, but also in the metal, energy, chemical, paper, mining, etc. sectors. The aim is to always make relevant information available, which benefits management, but also minimizes search and downtimes, to document deviations and to increase the quality of the handling of large projects. This can lead to reduction of workload for the operative construction site personnel. The devel-oped software, called Insite LMS, consists of three central modules. The first module is Global Logistics, which deals with worldwide logistics and its tracking. Site Logistics is construction site related. Barcode scanning, RFID tags, GPS positioning and image documentation, for example of materials or components, are carried out using mobile devices. The last module is called Site Management, which includes installation tracking, site logs and construction time tracking. Ad-vantages of the software include access to real-time information, paperless work, and flexible and detailed documentation of all materials on site. In addition, all materials can be easily traced back to the construction site.
Excursion Wien Museum
The Wien Museum at Karlsplatz, which was opened in 1959, is currently undergoing general ren-ovation after approximately 60 years of use. The building has become too small for today's col-lection, which is why an addition to the existing building is also being undertaken. In addition to extensive gutting work and various adaptations to the existing building, one of the main tasks in this project is the construction of the extension in the form of a steel truss structure. To transfer the weight of the two-story truss structure, additional columns and walls are being installed in the existing structure and drilled piles are being constructed to transfer the loads into the ground. The role of local construction supervisor is being assumed by the company iC-Consulenten. They are already using forward-looking digital tools in their daily work. The excursion group was giv-en a far-reaching insight into the digital tools
- CONTAKT and
- A cloud-based platform for plan exchange.
Thanks to these tools, construction site management can be digitized, which makes the daily work routine easier.
During the seminar, renowned institutes were also entrusted with presenting their current re-search activities. The research area "ZDB - Centre for Digital Building Processes" at the TU Wien conducts a wide range of research on the topic of digitization. In the research project AR-AQ-Bau, the use of augmented reality for acceptance and quality assurance on construction sites is being researched. Under BRISE-Vienna, a semi-automatic submission check using BIM, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) is being co-developed for a modern digital building permit process. The ZDB also developed a standardized qualification and certification model for BIM in Austria at BIM-Zert. In addition, buildingSMART is involved in the dissemination and further development of openBIM and the international, manufacturer-independent format IFC.
The TAniA project (Technical Assessment in Asset Management) focuses on the development and practical testing of a calculation method for determining a condition-based technical asset value and replacement value of road infrastructure assets as part of a sustainable life cycle assessment. This is to serve the infrastructure maintainers as a decision-making basis for technical and strategic measures.
Researcher of the research group "Construction Process and Methods" of the IBPM presented their own projects. At the project with Wienerberger company, they are working on the establishment of a production process for modular building with bricks under the title "Manufacturing Integrated Building Process". The aim is to research data generation and successfully integrate it into the overall process of the brick manufacturer. In terms of environ-mental protection, research is being carried out into future-oriented operating methods for con-struction site equipment under the heading of "CO2-neutral construction site". The focus is on the use of battery-powered construction machinery as well as on the company's own energy pro-duction on the construction site through photovoltaics or wind turbines, for example.
The U.S. University of Kentucky's Department of Construction Engineering and Project Management is conducting research into the shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry, among other things. Considering the increasing share of the construction industry in the overall economy, the decline in skilled personnel is being investigated in greater detail. The research refers to the future effects of the shortage of skilled workers and takes a closer look at the main occupational groups. For this purpose, it is based on the studies carried out on the preference for the chosen work of a person from the point of view of work performance - income - job security. In addition, the output of investments in construction projects is discussed in detail. Accordingly, it is shown which added value results from an investment in, for example, a new building.
Future issues for Design & Engineering
The company ODE is fully committed to the topic of BIM in the construction industry. During the course, the approach to an openBIM project was presented. The starting point for all BIM-based work is the digital model of the building. Costs, construction time, life cycle and facility manage-ment are subsequently integrated into this model to make the BIM model usable over the entire life cycle. This is done based on unified standards and norms. The IFC format, which provides a general interface for all parties involved in the project, was discussed in more detail. The setup of the IFC data structure can be seen in Fig. 3.
Future professions in connection with the establishment of BIM in the construction sector were also discussed. This will result in interesting activities both on the part of the client and on the part of the contractor. Finally, a BIM project was illustrated for the students.
The construction company Swietelsky has also recognized the advantages of digitalization ear-ly on and is dedicating itself to this topic in a specially created department. The company sees PropTech, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, 3D printing, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), BIM and AR/VR as promising game changers in the construction indus-try. For this reason, efforts are already being made to integrate these elements into the company at the earliest possible stage. In addition to illustrating the software used, there was also a presen-tation of practical examples from ongoing construction operations. Fig. 4 shows a BIM-modeled excavation model with essential characteristic values.
The project Collective Research: BIM in Tunneling was presented in detail. The cooperation of the University of Leoben, Vienna University of Technology and numerous partners from industry has set itself the goal of creating an interdisciplinary BIM-based planning, construction and oper-ating process management in tunneling. This should enable BIM to be used more extensively in tunnel construction in the future. In addition to this presentation, the students were given valua-ble assistance with scientific work and research.
Future issues for construction management
A further research project called "RFID in Construction" will examine the possibilities of imple-menting RFID in the construction industry. For this purpose, criteria for effective and optimal use are to be defined by means of an RFID room-book for building construction, including a life cycle consideration. In cooperation with various partners from the construction industry, robot dogs are being used on construction sites for the first time. Furthermore, surveying by means of drones was presented and the integration of site supervisor-activities on the construction site (e.g. defect management) into a BIM model was explained.
The protection of our environment is also becoming an increasingly important topic in the construction industry. Mondi, a company specializing in the manufacture of paper products, is also linked to the construction industry. Mondi produces packaging material for cement and is currently in the process of making the conventional paper cement bags more weather resistant. In a concerted effort, the company has developed a sustainable material that can withstand even difficult weather conditions such as rain and snow, thus preventing the cement inside from hard-ening. The advantages of this product clearly speak for themselves in the often-hectic everyday life on the construction site.
The company FCP, a long-established engineering company from Vienna, has also recognized the advantages of digitization for itself. The expansion of Vienna's Pilgramgasse subway station for the intersection of the U2/U4 lines was planned entirely with BIM. Impressive insights from this project were provided during the seminar.
This year's seminar was once again able to convey a broad spectrum of current developments in the entire construction sector. The influences from business and science complement each other immensely and give the course a forward-looking character. The careful selection of the lectur-ers rounds off the success of this seminar.