Affordable BIM tool will allow SME’s to access and monitor their own construction projects on site

BIM has become an important source of information for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) stakeholders. Analogous to objects and classes within object orientated programming (OOP) – BIM is considered as a single source of truth to the project designers and contractors involved in the project from the early stages to construction to finally building handover. In particular, during the management of a construction project. It is now quickly becoming the centralised repository for all necessary information needed for construction activities, progress monitoring, installation, project documentation and cost estimation.

As part of the Seismprecast Project, Exergy is developing a web platform and a mobile application to help construction contractors and SME’s with the installation and work package design management with BIM.

As smaller SME’s in the construction supply chain lack affordable mobile BIM tools to access and monitor their own installation progress on site. It is also important to obtain access to such site activities and progress information such as photographs, installation progress data, and asset tagging capabilities. If SME’s from the construction supply chain can affordably communicate site activities and installation progress via a user-friendly BIM tool on site, then more accurate progress can be captured by the main contractor. Main contractors are more frequently investing in existing cloud-based BIM tools provided by leading software vendors.

We hope to develop something to cater to the smaller sub-contractors installing products on site who may lack the access to expensive devices currently deployed such as iPads (required by major software vendors with cloud-based tools). SME’s need tools that can readily help capture their progress and feed such information between the manufacturer and the main contractor. Stacker, therefore, is designed to be compatible to share information back to major software vendor tools and to operate on mobile devices using Android to capture the progress from manufacturing through to installation at the pre-construction and construction stages.

The Stacker mobile app will be capable of:

  • Capturing on-site progress via photos and videos
  • Collecting and storing site inspection observations in model and site photos or videos. 
  • Visualising the model data in a user-friendly and intuitive manner for subcontractors
  • Collecting and storing information from key suppliers and project team members (PMT)
  • Visualising supplier models in AR and VR using mobile phones and tablets 
  • Tracking work package progress on site
  • Visualising the federated BIM model in a user-friendly and intuitive manner
  • Merging individual models into a single federated model
  • Collecting and storing work package tasks and deliverables information 
  • Collecting and storing pre-construction and construction stage models and project documentation
  • Collecting and storing information from key suppliers and project team members (PMT)
  • Storing site inspection observations in model and site photos or videos.

It is anticipated that the deployment of the Stacker system will provide the following business benefits for the construction supply chain SME’s:

  • Increase timely communication between main contractor and manufacturer and sub-contractors (tier 2 &3 contractors).
  • Improve quality and speed of site installation activities (by better informing the main contractors of installation activities)
  • Maintain correct and current information about suppliers and their key activities & personnel, facilitating rapid communication with suppliers.
  • Expedite site inspections and progress monitoring

Our BIM Coordinator, Erika Parn has recently (date) appeared on the CoinPM Talks podcast to discuss the future of BIM and the impact of digital tools on the construction industry

Interested in Stacker? Contact us to participate or learn more.

Harnessing the power of BIM for buildings as a circular product

How can we eliminate waste from the design and propagate a more circular consumption at the end-of-life?

Due to mass urbanization our cities are increasingly faced with mass consumption and the pressure to become more resourceful as the population is set to exceed 5.5 billion by 2050. The construction sector has been chastised by many thinktanks, research centres and NGO’s as the leading polluter and waste creator. The construction industry alone accounts for nearly 40% of carbon emissions and is heralded as the leading sector to mass produce waste through construction and demolition waste (CDW). For instance, in the UK nearly 49 million tonnes of CDW is produced due to end-of-life activities, namely through demolition (DEFRA, 2015). Subsequently, diverting 90% of UK’s CDW into landfills.

Simultaneously after a long history of under-digitization, the construction industry is making a shift towards digitization and automation due to rapidly growing information and communication technologies such as BIM, 3D printing, blockchain, robotics, machine learning, drones, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), predictive analytics, augmented reality, and gaming engines, to name a few. Often referred as Construction 4.0, the construction industry’s surrogate of Industry 4.0. These changes into digitalisation have been propounded to transform the design, planning, construction, operation and maintenance of buildings and have a positive impact on the overall project time, cost, and resources. Yet there exists a paucity of digital transformation in construction to assist circular consumer knowledge.  This quintessential transformation from BIM data, into information and finally into circular consumption knowledge is presently missing in Construction 4.0. As pace of construction sector is set to grow by 85% globally, circular re-use business model will similarly need to be embedded into new buildings from the outset of the building design stages.

Against this backdrop the requirement for more circular design thinking and digitalisation through technologies such as BIM can pave the ways for incremental step changes to embrace end-of-life strategic design decision making (Akanbi et al., 2017). Such herculean efforts to make the design decision making more circular also requires close collaboration and coordination between originators of the design and construction material manufacturers.

At the heart of contemporary self-professed green buildings lies an emblematic problem – How can we eliminate waste from the design and propagate a more circular consumption at the end-of-life? Whilst, at the heart of circular economy lies the perennial question – How can we maximise our resources life span?

To address this growing problem an end-of-life strategy is commonly used in conjunction with construction disassembly or deconstruction, which is gaining in popularity viz-a-viz demolition. Underpinning such methods of construction disassembly is circular economy thinking (COM, 2014). Circular economy design thinking exceeds the confines of previous low-grade recycling of building materials at the end of its life.

Yet, limited exemplars of building components that re-use CDW holistically and support circular design thinking exist. In addition to such, few offer BIM content to inform the designers of its end-of-life strategy for disassembly. Subsequently the Green Instruct innovative insulated wall panel which is designed to comprise of over 70% of CDW will also consider an end-of-life strategy to combat the ill addressed problem of CDW and circular design thinking.  Green Instruct panel has been designed with BIM and will also seek to address the problem of information transformation into end-of-life knowledge. The Exergy team participating in Green Instruct project hopes to gather preliminary data about ease of disassembly of the GI Panel and embed such data into the BIM object of the GI panel. In an unprecedented manner, this BIM component of GI panel is hoped to embedded circular design thinking to better inform design decision making of architects and ease disassembly of the panel at the end of its useful life.

Render of the Green Instruct panel in a BIM project

Render of the Green Instruct panel in a BIM project

From an economic system standpoint, our traditional economic modus operandi of “take-make-dispose” will manifest a resource-scarce future for manufacturers. In this context, circular economy presents an alternative economy model that is regenerative by design (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2012).  Such has been the thinking behind the use of BIM for GI panel, to encourage designer awareness of the circularity of the specified building product. It is the ambition of Exergy to test the ease of disassembly and to digitise such valuable information into the design models via BIM. Subsequently, GI panel encourages manufactures to design longevity and performance into products for improved durability, efficiency and adaptability, decrease the use of raw material cost and increasing business supply chain.  If successfully implemented, circular economy proposes to augment the traditional modus operandi of the one-way consumption mindset and convert it into a servitization model instead, in a way that product ownership belongs to manufacturers that operate as a service provider rather than just consumer sellers.

Akanbi L. A., Oyedele L. O., Akinade O. O., Ajayi A. O., Delgado M., D., Bilal M., Bello S. A., (2017) Salvaging building materials in a circular economy: A BIM-based whole-life performance estimator,Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol. 129,pp. 175-186, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2017.10.026. 

DEFRA Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK Statistics on Waste (2015) Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/487916/UK_Statistics_on_Waste_statistical_notice_15_12_2015_update_f2.pdf

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2012. Circular Economy. [Online]
Available at: www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

Green Instruct M30 meeting in Portugal

Project Update Month 30

The Green Instruct consortium meeting was an oportunity to share the latest projects advancements and discuss the rest of the project’s roadmap. The venue was held in the city of Coimbra, Portugal on the 27-28th of March 2019.

The Green Instruct project is a Horizon 2020 funded project that focuses on researching new structure panels for energy efficient buildings. The prototype will provide acoustic and thermal insulation and it will contribute to on site grey and stormwater management, through the integration of a vertical Green Wall technology, providing additional functionalities.

During the meeting, the partners had a chance to visit the Cool Haven demo site and get a better understanding of one of the designs developed as part of the project.

Currently, as part of WP3, we are leading Module and Building Design. Exergy is modeling the construction plans through Revit (BIM). The information gathered by End of Life analysis (circularity of the materials and the treatment of these after their lifeuse) can be included in a BIM platform, where professionals in the construction sector like architects, builders, stakeholders, etc. would be able to know beforehand all the particularities of the panel (amount of material required, how this material can be processed afterwards, which design techniques are applied,…). This project is one of the examples of Circular Economy applied in the construction sector.

In the next stage, the consortium will be working on developing two additional demo sites based in Spain and Italy.

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