Thursday, March 15, 2012

30 Storey Hotel (T-30) Construction in 15 Days - Coordination and Collaboration at its Best

A 30 story, 17,000 square meter hotel - T-30 is built in 15 days in Changsha, China. Building foundation was laid ahead of superstructure construction and superstructure was built with prefabricated components. These ultra fast construction schedule was only made possible with the help of prefabrication technologies. Prefabrication is changing the way buildings are constructed.

 

 It will be interesting to look at the level of coordination and collaboration needed for this sort of perfection. Tools like Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Last Planner System (LPS) become even more important for achieving this level of perfection in coordination. Making sure that each component fits on site as intended and functions as designed would be only possible with 3D coordination and 4D schedule visualization. Coordination in fabrication facilities will be efficient with the application of Last Planner System. Moreover, effective supply chain management during construction will be critical. Just-in-time delivery of components will require impeccable coordination between suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses and construction team. Prefabrication method is leaner than on site construction and wide adoption of prefab methods can make it cost effective as well.

Chinese company Board Sustainable Building, who built this hotel, claims that this building is 5 times energy efficient than industry standard and is earth quake resistant for up to 9.0 earthquake. There are skeptics about safety practices applied during construction however company claims that prefabrication helped reducing the safety risks.

Reference Link -

The Los Angeles Times, Building Design and Construction  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Using Intelligent Tools will Save Construction Teams from Information Overflow

Information overflow is a reality in all walks of life these days. Gone are the days when email communication was blessing for business. We live in an era of information overflow whether it be our Inbox or a social network site. We literally skim through all the information we see and try to keep up with overwhelming sea of information. I don't want to say that information technology is not a blessing anymore but I want to point out the need for intelligent systems (software and hardware specifically) to manage the information for us and also interpret this information based on our preferences and behavior. The intelligent systems that provide us with just enough information when we need it and where we need it.

Companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are doing awesome job of understanding user behavior and writing algorithms to accomplish the same goal of relevant information delivery to right people at right time and at right place. Mostly, these companies are targeting consumers whom they can sale advertisements. However, how good a job today's enterprise level solutions doing for solving the same problem for construction industry? Very few. Most of enterprise level tools for construction industry are still desktop based making no or very insignificant use of web enabled technologies to design intelligent solutions for construction companies.

Use of building information modeling (BIM) has significantly drawn industry's attention towards importance of information management and information sharing for architects, engineers, contractors and owners. Initiatives such as Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), IFD, agcXML and other initiatives by Building Smart Alliance, National Institute of Science & Technology and International Alliance for Interoperability are helping in standardizing information workflow, semantics, ontology and processes for seamless information flow among various software applications. Yet, intelligent systems to help interpret information and help decision making are still lacking.

It is great that we generate a whole lot of information during product development and stay proactive in making decisions based on this information however efficiency in using relevant information at the right time and at right place can be priceless. Consider a scenario where a whole lot of relevant information about a project is generated using state of the art BIM solutions and that information is a click away for all project participants. Also this information is available in raw format (3D geometry, schedule databases, resource databases and other project databases). Without the use of a layer of intelligent tools (software and hardware) this information will be overwhelming for majority of project participants. 4D (3D + time) modeling came a long way and it is an example of such intelligent tools. We need more such intelligent tools (both desktop based and web based) to help make right decisions and take calculated risks on construction sites.