Vico Control FAQs
Vico Control is a unique construction scheduling software because it features flowline theory. This version of Vico Control works without a BIM model. If you want to use models for 3D, 4D, and 5D BIM, please explore the Vico Office Suite -- Vico Office works with models from Revit, Tekla, and ArchiCAD.
Vico Control allows the scheduler to work collaboratively with the superintendent to create an optimal schedule based on quantities by location and productivity rates. Equally important is the ability to "control" the schedule on-site to forecast crew pile-ups and interferences based on actual productivity rates. With this real-time data, the scheduler and superintendent can work together to adjust crew sizes by location to keep the project on track.
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Vico Doc Set Manager FAQs
Q: Can an existing Suretrack or P3 file be converted into a flowline based schedule?
A: Yes it can. However, some of the information in P3 or Suretrack is not available that you need in Control such as location information. You can bring in the activities, but you would need to add in the location information manually to use Control to its full potential. Typically, the workflow we recommend is that you start in Control and then Control can export into P3, P6, and Microsoft Project. So you start in Control and then you export if you contractually, for example, are obligated to provide a Gantt chart or P3 schedule.
An additional comment: I'm sure many of you are aware that both Suretrack and P3 are being phased out and they will no longer be supported. So, many of you will be looking at switching to P6 as one option. I think this would be a great time to have your company take a good look at Vico Control. Because you're going to be learning a new program anyway so you want to have an opportunity to see how the flowline scheduling system could improve your ability to perform on projects...and, of course, to decrease your schedule risks.
Q: If a subcontractor comes back and changes crew size from three to five, how will the change be made in the program?
A: That's very easy because crew size and resources are also part of the actual attributes for a task inside Control. So you can change that, and by changing the crew size you will increase the productivity, and you will see the immediate new duration that is calculated based on the new crew size. You can also create what are called "Control Plans" for how you'd like to mitigate some of the problems that are forecast in the Control schedule and you can do that by increasing the crew size and then do a couple of what-if scenarios to see what happens if you increase it to 2, 3, or 5.
Q: Does the Vico Office Suite calculate the duration of the tasks and the production rate automatically from information in the database?
A: Yes. Vico Office integrates the model and the database and the schedule. The duration is calculated based on the productivity rate from the database, quantities from the 3D model, and the crew size entered or optimized from Vico Office Schedule Planner.
Q: Do you have training classes on all that Control has to offer?
A: Yes we do and I suggest you start first with the interactive training guide which are free to download form our website. Once you go through the ITG then we have different classes for advanced and expert levels. You can contact us for additional training.
Q: Can this schedule Control chart be summarized into a cumulative progress S-curve where we have early, late planned and actual for the project as a whole?
A: Yes you can. We have a value analysis view of the project where you can superimpose exactly those metrics and use it together with the model.
Q: How does the matrix for updating progress effect the schedule if the task is not entirely completed? Let's say that it is at 60% complete, how does it effect the schedule or can you tell it is only at 60%?
A: You can tell that it's only at 60%. You can break down the tasks to quantities if you'd like and you can actually define the percent complete based on quantities if you track the project at that level of detail. You can also suspend completion of a task if there's a break in the process. You can define a percent complete without any problems inside the software as well.
Q: If changes occur in the detailing software (for example, in Tekla) after finishing the planning in Vico, how does Vico Office deal with the change?
A: Changes in detailing or design software will automatically change the takeoff item quantities, which then change the Cost Planner quantities, which in turn, update the costs and schedule durations.
Q: Can you create a preset flowline template based on generic building types or by volume? Or do you find that projects vary too greatly to benchmark?
A: You can actually create those templates, yes. First of all, you can capture inside the Vico 5D environment and standardize all the tasks and their production rates or an assumption on crew sizes. And that will help you generate a schedule automatically based on just inserting the design or linking it to the design BIM model. Second, you can also create Control templates and in these you can preassemble logic for different trades that you can bring in and apply in your schedule. So by using these two in combination you can first of all calculate the durations based on standardized task and production rate list, and then apply a logic that you preassembled and standardized in a Control template.
One relevant point: For those of you wanting to start out in 5D, we have developed a dataset that allows you to immediately use a BIM model and connect it to the quantity takeoff and tasks that allow you to do the 4D-5D cycles. So for any of you that may not have a dataset to start with and would like to learn more about the preconfigured dataset for 4D-5D please contact your sales rep and we'll be happy to help you with that.
Q: Which software or system combines this schedule type best for automation?
A: We have a viewer that combines the schedule and the actual model of the building in one single view. The difference as I mentioned earlier is that it is not just a schedule based on historical assumptions but it's a schedule that's resource-loaded. It was created based on locations, quantities, and production rates and then helps you animate the actual construction sequence in real time. So Vico has a solution for that and we think it is the best in the market because it represents real information as opposed to information that is not necessarily as accurate as it would be in Control.
Q: Does control recognize BIM item coding like Uniformat? Can it be altered?
A: Yes, you can use your own coding structure. It can be used in Uniformat CSI and you can have your own task coding structure if you wanted to.
Q: Does Revit support this software?
A: Yes, Vico Office supports Revit (and Tekla and ArchiCAD). And Vico Office takes out the quantities from a Revit model that you will be able to plug in to the Control environment for accurate scheduling.
Q: Can you use activity codes for location?
A: Location codes have their own code (or naming) inside Vico Office so we don't necessarily use an activity code for a location. But you can capture some kind of location information in the activity code if you would like and use the two together that way.
Q: Can you further define the location within Control? A lot of schedules are built using a location code.
A: Yes, the location code is basically a designation for an area inside a Primavera schedule. You might have a separate column for it inside Primavera. In Control you don't have the equivalent because locations are part of the definition of the activity or the task. So it's handled slightly differently. Primavera doesn't know that you actually refer to a location using a location code. You know it but the software doesn't really know - it just knows that it's another number. This is as opposed to Control which understands the sequence of locations and understands the way locations are broken down for the project. So you can use those codes in your location breakdown structure inside Control but it's not necessarily a one to one or an automatic transition from location code to Control because Primavera doesn't know it's a location code only you know it.
Q: Is the schedule information bi-directional between P6 and Vico? In other words, as you update the Control environment info, can I push that info to P6?
A: Definitely and actually that's the recommended workflow. You update and make changes in Control and then you push those out into P6. And we have a direct link to P6 that basically carries over not only start and end dates but also resource information, cost information, and quantity information, if available.
Q: How do you incorporate cost information to each task in Vico Control?
A: There is a field for the resources so when I added the quantities (40 hour estimates) it has a cost field. So every single quantity has a cost field with it that you can add and enter. And you can bring that in from an estimate manually or you can bring it in from our 5D Vico software suite that directly connects with Control.
Q: Does Control calculate the duration of the tasks and the production rate automatically? If changes occur in the model (e.g. Tekla Structures) after the planning has been done, how does Control respond to these changes?
A: Recall that model-based estimating and scheduling need several variables:
1.) Quantities derived from the model geometry
2.) Production rates from the subcontractors’ bids
3.) Location breakdown structure to organize the task sequencing
4.) Cost of materials and labor
The formula Quantity X Production Rate by Location = Schedule. So durations are calculated in Vico Control, not “assigned” as in CPM solutions.
When a model changes, as more detail is included or as changes occur after a coordination meeting, the new model version is simply published to Vico Office. Vico Office recalculates the quantities which are derived from the model geometry (which may or may not have changed). Vico Office remembers and reassigns your location breakdown structure to the new version of the model. And the productivity rates remain the same. So, if there have been any changes to the model geometry, these will be reflected in both the Cost Plan and the Schedule.
Please take a look at Dr. Seppanen’s blog post on durations in location-based schedules to learn more.
Q: Does Control offer comparison report on variance between approved schedules and schedules being submitted?
A: You can basically view a comparison between the actual schedule and the plan schedule. You can also view comparisons between the schedule that you create for controlling the job to just forecasting it.
Q : What is the entry level cost for the first license of Control?
A: For a complete license of all the functionality we showed you today the single user cost is $2,895 USD. We call that license the Plan and Control license because it allows you to perform all the schedule creation and analysis and then also to do the production control, control charts and the subsequent to construction analysis.
Q: Do you have any training tutorials and where can I find it?
A: We have Interactive Training Guides, demonstration movies, and two webinars on flowline scheduling (BIM 401: Model-Based Scheduling and Scheduling Strategies for a Hard Bid), not to mention the Fit and Finnish Blog.
Q: Do you need to use Vico Office to get you quantities and then plug those quantities into Control or can you use other software to import quantities?
A: The interface with other software would be through an excel spreadsheet so if you can export into an excel spreadsheet then you can bring them in to Control. You can create a manual takeoff that way, you can export quantities from any other software into an excel and then bring them into Control.
Q: What is the cost of the modeling license to integrate into the Control tool?
A: There are quite a few available today. If you are already a user of Revit, Tekla, ArchiCAD or Constructor then you already have a modeling license. Those licenses generally run for as little as $3000 up to around $6000 depending on which one you pick and which parts you get with it. You would need the Vico Office Client and what we call the LBS manager.
Q: Does your 5D animation software come with Control or is it separate?
A: It is separate. It is also part of the Vico Office package. Today it is a free product in the older software we call Contructor and Constructor Pro. That's the 5D presenter software. And then there will be a new animation product for Vico Office.
Q: What about ODBC links in the back end? (Like Sequel)
A: All of Vico Office data is stored in a relational database and you have full access to everything. We intend to link Vico Office to many other systems as we already have with Primavera, MS Project, Revit and Tekla. We plan to continue extending those links taking in for example the subcontractor systems like Quickpen and others. We encourage you also to link to Vico Office if you have a particular in-house environment that is unique.
Q: Is the product accurate enough to be used to confirm percent complete on subcontractors monthly payment requisitions?
A: Yes, absolutely. Because of the data being tied all the way through from quantities, we can add cost and percent complete on each of those tasks. That will provide a payment schedule and evaluation for the project.
Additional comment: One of our clients has used the simulation and takes a JPEG of the simulation with the date showing in the corner and compares it to the percent complete information in the payment requisition along with a digital photo of the project site. (In this case it was steel.) And according to the simulation, which is tied directly to the schedule, if you were looking at the project you should see this much steel in place. And you could see from the digital photograph of the same section of the job that this was not the case. So a couple of different ways for it to be used which I thought was pretty interesting.
You can see a great comparison of the Vico Control Schedule and the actual progress on-site at the end of the Hensel Phelps webinar on the Denver Justice Center.
Q: Would you be showing how to model risks to the schedule with PERT techniques or Monte Carlo simulations to account for external factors such as weather?
A: We can certainly do that and we have a Monte Carlo simulation within the scheduling software where we just add certain risks using the standard risks of whether it was high, medium, or low and they can be related to the start of the task, duration of the task, etc. And you can run the simulation in as much iteration as you desire and it indicates all of the end results so you can scroll through all of the end outcomes and see what the overall probability is.
Q: What do we want included in a model from the designers' BIM and how in Vico Office do we combine multiple models... The MEP, Structural, Architectural model etc. and derive the construction caliber quantities?
A: We can take any model elements from the authoring tools that we can integrate with and can cut and slice that data in a very flexible way within the environment by changing what types of tools we use.
For example, if someone has modeled a beam with a slab, we can actually change within to get the correct properties from Vico Office. So, it's very flexible and the spreadsheet like interface allows you to do the computation and yes there are some requirements that can be mandated to your designer so it is a lot easier to integrate.
Q: Does the software do any type of stability readings, seismic data, foundation tensile strength etc.?
A: With the way the database is set up in Vico Office, it has no limitation. You are able to add sets of data to individual elements. So while those engineering calculations would not be generated by Vico Office itself, attaching that data to the element is very possible utilizing the multi-tiered database set up that we have. We've set this up with things like LEED certification so that you can keep track of your elements and their LEED analysis. You can attach lots of equipment and maintenance information to elements. So being able to tag it with engineering data would be very feasible, but that data would not be generated by Vico Office.
Q: Can we use this software for altitude and longitude simulation based on sun location for green building concepts?
A: This question is really more specific to the modeling platform you chose. The more popular modeling software (REVIT, ArchiCAD, etc.) are very capable of doing a sun location/shading simulation. But Vico is a platform that utilizes many different modeling engines but in and of itself is not a modeling engine.
That kind of analysis is going to more likely be done in the modeling software itself. They do have the ability to export GBXML export and that contains the information for some of these types of analysis which if you wanted to tag that to the BIM inside of Vico Office you could. But that's really something you are going to do inside of your modeling platform.
Q: In the rebar task duration you showed how efficient, accurate and reliable is that rebar task duration?
A: Absolutely, the essence of this question is really what this software is all about. We're trying to provide better data so we're not making so many assumptions; we're actually creating a schedule based on something really tangible and very scientific. So it is more accurate and more reliable because we are generating the real quantity of work and basing the actual outcome of the duration on how much resource and how productive that resource is. And because this knowledge is assumption, but more accurate because we are going to a granular level, that data can be refined as you go through so that instead of using an estimate of a productivity you are actually using the true productivity from the previous project of a similar nature. So that's a real benefit of it. So hopefully you can be more accurate and more reliable.
Additional note: Recall, too, that your subcontractors will make more informed bids if they better understand that they are not going to be stopping and starting. And from the other side of that this solution allows you to work with your subcontractors (maybe not in the hard bid environment where you have a short period of time to bid) but it's more beneficial to get the subcontractors involved and this can be an ongoing thing with contractors you use quite often. Their data is the data you should be using. So you can gather how many resources they will use and how they believe they will be productive on that task. And then with some very small alterations to contracts they can be tied into that on a bonus system that is obviously beneficial to everyone.
Q: How do you manage offsite activities? For example, prefabricated components and precast slabs etc.
A: There are two components to this. One example is a client who recently included a task that showed how quickly they can provide these based on the area available on a very cramped site. How quickly they could send out these cages so that was the determining rate of production for the follow on trades. That actually was displayed in the schedule as a flowline based on the amount of time it took to fix each of the cages. And because we have the quantities loaded into each of these tasks, managing offsite activities for the procurement workflow... actually going for bids and bringing back bids, comparing them and placing them in order... All of these stages in the prerequisite that needs to be completed before a task can start can also be included and are actually linked to and utilize the quantities to show you for example when you are going to require slabs and how many. It is very comprehensive in that way and the integration is tied together.
Additional note: In our BIM 201 webinar we also use an example there of not only procurement lead times but also those manufacturing lead times. So that you're not just looking for clashes of components or materials, you are looking for clashes of lead times as well.
Q: Can we feed RS means or other database information into Vico to fill in the gaps in our own data or does Vico provide an automated import method for these processes?
A: Yes, we can bring in other data and there are other methods to do that with Office. There is an excel interface where we can use the process of just copy and paste and also providing RS Means data if the client does not have their own database for certain aspects. Maybe they have a lot of data on form concrete, but on the MEP side of things they don't have any data... We can fill in the gaps with those industry standards or data based on advice from the Services Team... We have professional estimators so we can assist you in that creation of the data that's all-encompassing for your business.
Additional notes: We have used the productivity information out of RS Means and find it quite good. Some people have questions about the region of the pricing, but we've had good results from the productivity data and the crew sizes that you can pull out of RS Means.
Q: Can you highlight the different steps that you can accomplish with Vico Office?
A: The models are published from the respective environment. That information is pushed into the database so that Vico Office can read the elements' geometry. Within Office there is a recalculation so it means that everything is generated with construction-caliber quantities data that is then used in a spreadsheet environment so you can add non-model-based items, as well as utilizing this powerful Formula Editor to generate a breakdown. This is populated by the standard 5D database we talked about so just by bringing in the model we can drag the required components from a standard database to create this information.
We showed you the steps which were to create locations and the locations that virtually split the elements to be able to provide the quantities by location. And then we would go into the scheduling side of things to assign those quantities to tasks and then go up and schedule. So that procedure is bringing in a model, using a spreadsheet to generate quantities, breaking the location that you would use for the way that you would break the work down... So location breakdown structure to manage the work... Pushing it into the Control environment which is for scheduling and then using location-based scheduling to the maximum extent by having better data. And the idea behind that is to optimize the schedule and then bring that information back to the 3D model so as you change tasks in the 3D model that will update the timing for each of the components and you can do the 4D.
And if you can do the cost you will have 5D in there as well. So that's the general workflow and how the software works.
Q: Can leveraging true 4D BIM help me plan my MEP sequencing or is it just for planning structure and architecture activities?
A: We probably just did one of the more detailed MEP sequencing projects we have ever done and it proved out that not only can you get down to a high level of detail with MEP systems, but you can vet out very well whether or not the logistics that are being recommended will work. And, in fact, in this instance we determined the original plan as submitted by the subcontractor... once they saw the sequence, they reversed it almost 180 degrees in how they were going to put the MEP in place. So yes, it's very effective for that. I would just give you the caveat that you can only really sequence what you model. So you have to model to the level of detail that you want to demonstrate in your sequence. Particularly if there are going to be some dicey parts of the sequence and construction or installation of the units.
Q: How are interior rough in and finish activities modeled and represented? Have any of your clients used 4D to represent these activities?
A: We can go to the level of detail that the model is representing. Say for example we have a model that has four interior walls all of the stud work and the sheeting going on the outside... We can take quantities from these elements and represent them. Or we can actually take the information for the interior rough in from just a single element that is created as a wall. So it does depend on the level of detail the model is represented at. But it doesn't actually alter the way that we are able to display this information.
So in "playback" you can actually represent certain sides of a wall as being finished on their own or we can actually get quantities for finishes from zones that were represented in the model. So for each of the rooms we can have different room zones and take the quantities for the external faces. So there are many ways of doing that that can actually be seen in the 4D representation.
Additional comment: We always have the expression "To model or not to model, that is the question." And all of those questions beg the Model Progression Specification to be used ahead of time so that everybody understands what's going to be modeled and when it's going to be modeled so you sort of back in to the MPS saying "We want to be able to show studs in the sequence." Well, then that means that there's a level of detail that has to go into the model progression spec so whoever is responsible for modeling understands that "This is what I have to do when I model this element."
So there is a significant amount of planning that goes on that we've certainly learned (we've done about 350 of these for our clients) and that's why we designed the MPS and gave it up to the public domain. Because that is the kind of thing you want to plan out ahead of time not find out after the fact that you can't do it.
Q: Generally in a hard bid scenario the general contractor has two or three weeks for the bid. Architects will not give out their models to everyone before the bid. So how do you complete a model in two weeks that is accurate enough for the estimate?
A: The fact of the matter is... is it is very difficult to model and generate 3D, 4D, 5D information at that rate of speed. We started several months ago to develop a process that will allow us to do that and, in fact, have demonstrated the process and are now capable of doing it. More than half the time we are able to generate the 3D, 4D, 5D information.
So let's give an example say on a one hundred million dollar project size. We can generate 3D, 4D, and 5D output inside of four weeks and we stream that information over time. So in two weeks you're getting your architectural and structural data, in three weeks you're getting your MEP data... So it is possible.
Of course, that doesn't mean that you're not going to use some of your standard processes. You know that as a general contractor and construction manager you don't takeoff every detail even when you do a hard bid. You rely on experience, you rely on taking off those things that you want to make sure you have good information on and you rely upon your subcontractors to give you some insights and some help on the bid itself.
Vico Office is designed to combine all of those. It's designed to be able to input traditional information... things that you know right off the top of your head that are going to be pretty close in that type of building or that type of construction. And as you decide..."What exactly do we need to model in order to get this bid to where we're comfortable?" ...Then our system is designed to say "let's do a combination of our experiential knowledge base as well as our model-driven knowledge base." That combination and the process that we've done (and Six Sigma is, I will say, a painful process of documentation and continuous improvement, but it is absolutely necessary) because when you model that fast you need processes in place that make sure you don't make any mistakes or errors in the model. So the Six Sigma process governs all of our processes as we develop them and as we continuously improve them.
But we do now know that it is possible to do this on hard bid but it will ultimately be a combination of existing knowledge base and modeling information that we will combine into the overall hard bid.