The AEC Production Control Room is an Innovate UK demonstrator initiative which aims to improve the management and delivery of largescale construction projects. Together with industry and university partners MACE, 3DRepo, eviFile, Mission Room and Imperial College London, the Connected Environments team and UCL are working to realise the concept of a scalable ‘plug and play’ production control room for construction.
To support the project Mission Room have now deployed one of their demountable, three-screen Cine interfaces for testing at the UCL Connected Environments lab. These large-scale touchscreens provide an interactive window into the underlying software platform being developed by 3DRepo and eviFile. This platform integrates Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology with further information on project scheduling, cost, and work assignments to support integrated collaboration between contractors and other construction project stakeholders in real-time.
The combination of 3D representation with real-time information align the project with the aspirations for Digital Twin technologies laid out in the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s Gemini Principles, but also with the broader concept of Construction 4.0 which uses technologies like BIM, IoT, and even robotics, in order to align and run construction projects more closely to the model of the factory.
The central concept behind the project is ‘production control’ which refers to the monitoring and control of the manufacturing process. In the field of construction this means assigning and coordinating work between each of the contractors on site, monitoring progress against the planned schedule, addressing issues that arise regarding the flow of resources and labour productivity, checking that completed work meets required quality standards, and ensuring that work is carried out safely and efficiently as possible.
The key function of production control is to ensure that all available information is used to address and resolve uncertainties that might arise in the complex and potentially dangerous environment of the worksite. Achieving efficiency through production control is important because it helps minimise delays, reduces waste, and thereby contributes to the overall sustainability and value of the project. The complexities and contingencies of construction mean that collaboration between teams and decision makers at all levels of operation are essential for maintaining the safe and sustainable delivery for these kinds of projects.
A central challenge for the project is providing a solution that meets the needs of the teams working on site while providing higher level overviews for the purposes of project steering as well benchmarks across an entire construction portfolio. In addition to displaying data via the Mission Room Cine screens onsite, information will also be available via the web, whether at another AEC Control Room in at MACE headquarters for example, or else via a laptop or perhaps even using mixed realities. In the Connected Environments lab we will be using this facility to explore further applications for the use of IoT, Machine Learning and Mixed Realities in the capture, analysis and visualization of live construction project information.