We recently ran across a question in an Autodesk User Group (AUGI) forum. Positive that many of our community are in the same boat, we wanted to discuss it with our larger audience.
“So I need to explain to my EVP what the true value is in using 4D simulation. Does anyone have any suggestions or can direct me to a website that explains it in detail? Yes, I understand it is good for visualization and foreseeing possible conflicts with the schedule, but what else?”
Let’s first make a clear distinction. There are products on the market built specifically for creating a scheduling sequence movie. These animations are used during the pursuit phase and shown to the Owner, as well as afterward to inform the team of the planned construction sequence. The BIM Manager or planner manually links the 3D building elements to a sequence of tasks. This animation may or may not have any correlation to the final schedule, often called the “baseline schedule.”
We’ll answer the question with the Vico Office Scheduling solution in mind. Even during the pursuit phase, the schedule can be so much more than just a movie. And with the advances in model-based scheduling applications, there is no reason why a full schedule can’t be developed for the pursuit presentation. This fully-developed schedule also can be used every week on the job site to communicate tasks and locations to the Subs. And then let’s also not forget that the Supers and PEs need to compare the original optimal schedule to the actual percent completes every week. But before we get too detailed, let’s start at the beginning…
There are four uses for scheduling simulations:
1. Convince the Owner that your firm understands this project inside and out. One way to stand out against the competitors with your presentation is to explain to the Owner that your schedule was scientifically derived from the model geometry. Construction-caliber quantities were extracted from the model geometry, organized into location systems, and divided by crew productivity rates to achieve the durations. To make your point, show two simulations – a typical schedule and your optimal schedule side by side. The Owner will want to know how much each schedule costs and the difference in time is frequently a 10% improvement. You’re going to be the one who can explain that because the Vico Office solution integrates the 3D model with the 4D schedule and the 5D estimate. Your firm will have the cost- and resource-loaded schedules available to discuss.
2. Communicate the project to the Subs before asking for their bids. Nothing makes a Sub’s consider price more carefully than knowing that there won’t be stops and starts on a job. It is so hard to de-mobilize a crew and pull them all back together to finish a task just because of poor planning with equipment or materials. One of the goals of Vico Office Scheduling Solutions is to produce a work space for Subs that is free and clear from disruptions. This means that the crew can work at their optimal pace, have plenty of room to do their jobs well, and do them safely. When the Subs see that you are asking for their productivity rates in exchange for having them work continuously, you’ll also see prices go down. Let’s face it: if you both know the quantities and you both know the productivity rates, it is pretty easy to compare mark ups on the bids you receive.
3. Communicate to the Subs in the trailer. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a movie must be worth one million. With the Vico Office Scheduling Solution, it is very easy to customize the scheduling data specifically for each trades. This means each trade can have their own view of the schedule, as well as a custom 4D movie to help them understand their tasks. This way you can communicate to each trade on-site where they need to be each day/week/month and what they need to accomplish. This is useful not only to streamline teams, but also keep them safe. No one is wandering around the site – everyone knows their work zone.
4. Review progress and solve issues together. In location-based management there are two components to every schedule: developing the best schedule in terms of resources and budget and then managing to that schedule on-site. Here’s where the “controlling” component comes into play. Every week as Subs, Supers, and PEs walk the site, they simply mark down the percent completes in each location. The Vico Office Scheduling Solution calculates the actual progress on-site and compares it to the original baseline schedule. Visually, the teams can see what would happen if no actions were taken…what would happen if additional crews were added or removed. So very easily, the teams can solve problems before they ever occur. These look-ahead schedules and actual vs baseline comparisons are a huge step forward for keeping schedules on track.
Caption: GCs have 4 audiences for 4D BIM scheduling movies: the Owner, the subs before buyout, the subs in the trailer, and utilizing look-ahead schedule to solve issues before they manifest themselves. So it is imperative that the schedule, optimized with flowline, be based on quantities by location and crew productivity rates.
So, what are the advantages of creating a schedule simulation? It depends if your firm is going to use it only for the pursuit phase and throw it away; or, if your firm is going to use it from pursuit all the way out to the site.
And consider this:
#1: instead of building a schedule that is designed to identify claim opportunities, consider deriving a schedule designed to eliminate claims.
#2: Consider using a schedule with built-in functionality for controlling the project on-site and avoiding fire-fighting.
#3: Consider a scheduling system that works with Subs, not against them.
#4: Consider a scientific system which de-risks your projects and not the status quo.
To learn more about this subject, we recommend the following resources:
Product: Vico 4D Manager
Paper: What Is 4D BIM?
Video: What Is Flowline Scheduling?
Webinar: Location Breakdown Structures
Video: 5D BIM for Dummies
We also offer a step-by-step guide to our 5D virtual construction workflow with video tutorials. These videos are just 2-5 minutes in length, but illustrate how to use a particular piece of functionality. You can access the video library index and view just what you need, or download the complete set of training videos. We have training videos for Estimators, Schedulers, Supers, and anyone who does CM Reporting.