Vico Guest Blogger Series

Compare Flowline and Gantt Chart Construction Schedules Side-by-Side

Posted by Holly Allison on Thu, Apr 05, 2012 @ 08:19 AM


Sometimes learning a new software program can be like trying to learn a new language or trying to play a sport with your opposite hand or leg.


We received a question from a planner in the UK which I am sure many people want to ask: can you compare the Vico flowline schedule to a regular Gantt chart schedule?


And the underlying question is not about location-based management versus critical path (although you can download a new whitepaper on that topic from the American College of Construction Lawyers), it’s more like “can you teach an old dog new tricks”?


Believe me, the first time I saw a flowline, I thought I was looking at a heap of pick up sticks: color-coded lines going this way and that way with no rhyme or reason.  So I can completely understand this gentleman’s question – basically, can we get a cheat sheet to use while we learn how to read a flowline?…like having subway signs in multiple languages so everyone can find their way.


Well, the answer is yes.  Yes, you can put several views together in Vico Schedule Planner so that your team can digest the current status of the project on one screen or A3 sheet.


Flowline Gantt Primavera Report Construction Schedule Views


Caption: This screenshot shows three different views: the flowline, the gantt, and resources on site.  Additionally, you can set up these views to show planned, actual, and forecast data. As new users are learning location-based scheduling in Vico Schedule Planner, they appreciate comparing the Flowline View next to the Gantt Chart View. The Flowline View shows the crews/tasks moving through the locations with the slope representing their productivity rate.


But while we’re on the subject, let’s just take a moment to explain what the lines mean in the flowline view.  First, the y-axis displays the locations for the project; while the x-axis marks days or weeks or months depending on your calendar settings.  We illustrate the flow of crews through locations with particular productivity rates with a flowline graph.  Each line represents one crew or task as they move through the building.  The slope of the line marks their stated productivity rate and their dotted line indicates their measured, actual rate.  When you see two lines cross each other, that indicates a “4D schedule clash” or two crews in the same location. Any obvious gaps on your screen represent under-utilized locations.  By deploying a combination of optimization techniques guided by the software, a planner can tighten up a schedule without introducing additional risk.  Likewise, once on the jobsite, by deploying a combination of Control Actions, a Superintendent can anticipate a potential problem and fix it before it occurs.  


We also have a great video which explains how to read a flowline as compared to a Gantt chart.  Take five minutes to see the explanation.


There are four key points which make Vico scheduling solutions different than what you currently use for construction planning:


Quantities by Location.  As planners, we create manageable locations and locations systems by trade to tightly organize construction tasks.  When we draw and assign these locations for our BIM models, we can automatically extract the quantities per location.  When we garner a sub’s productivity rate (either through a pull scheduling session, a bid, or previous performance data), we can calculate the duration for each location.  And a calculation is better than a best guess.


Lean Scheduling Goals.  Just as Lean espouses a clear work area for crews for maximum efficiency, Flowline theory asserts that subcontractors can work at optimum productivity rates with optimum safety and craftsmanship if their location is free of unnecessary materials and other workers.  When subs understand that their work will not be interrupted with stops and starts, they can utilize the correct resources, manpower, and equipment to finish on schedule.


The preconstruction schedule doesn’t get thrown away.  This might be a radical departure for some who are used to seeing change orders and claims as part of their daily workload.  Because the original schedule is calculated with subcontractor input, and not contrived, the Superintendent can manage to the baseline schedule.  By entering real-time production data during daily or weekly walk-throughs, the Super can produce Look-Ahead Forecasts which spot potential clashes and cascading delays well in advance.  These can be fixed easily using Vico scheduling calculations and corrected before the problem ever manifests itself.


Owner deliverables.  Nothing says complete control of a project like cost- and resource-loaded schedules; cash flow plans; and resource histograms for people, equipment, and materials.  With an integrated 3D-4D-5D workflow like Vico, these reports are automatically generated.  Owners appreciate these real-time views into their project and in many cases even mandate them in the contract language.


We realize our scheduling solutions are very unique in the market, so we have many resources available to help you learn more.  And, of course, if you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask – it’s as easy as posting a comment to this blog.


Our Products: Vico Office LBS Manager and the FAQs

Our Products: Vico Office Takeoff Manager and the FAQs

Our Products: Vico Office Schedule Planner and the FAQs

Our Products: Vico Office Production Controller and the FAQs

Our Products: Vico Office 4D Manager and the FAQs


Webpage: What Is 4D BIM?

Webpage: What is Flowline Scheduling?

Webpage: What is Location-Based Management for Construction?

Webpage: Why Consider Switching Your Scheduling to Vico?


Webinar: Location-Based Management Principles and Last Planner

Webinar: LBS Manager in the 5D Workflow

Webinar: Planning AND Controlling the Schedule


Whitepaper: A Comparison of Tradition CPM to Location-Based Scheduling

Whitepaper: The Combination of Last Planner System and Location-Based Management System


Video: 5D BIM for Dummies


Blog: Dr. Seppanen's Fit and Finnish Blog on Location-Based Management


Training: 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 for Estimating, Scheduling, and Reporting.


Tags: critical path method, construction schedule, Gantt chart, primavera report, Location-based schedule, flowline