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Developing an assessment framework to support the decision-making process for adopting 4D BIM in infrastructure projects

Peeters, J. (2021) Developing an assessment framework to support the decision-making process for adopting 4D BIM in infrastructure projects.

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Abstract:4D Building Information Modelling (BIM) associates object-oriented information of the construction project with time or planning-related information. This technology advancement revolutionized the construction industry over the past 20 years and there are many uses of 4D BIM that may be beneficial for the project. However, project managers have a limited budget at their disposal and implementing a 4D model can be expensive and time-consuming. Whether or not these benefits outweigh the costs of implementing a 4D model depends on the practical situation. Risks concerning safety, design mistakes and schedule delay are for some projects higher than others. For projects where these risks are bigger, the need for a 4D model is possibly higher. And if so, the question arises of what 4D uses should be considered. This assessment is part of the decision-making process of every infrastructure project of Strukton Civiel. This Dutch contractor carries out a wide range of infrastructure projects and is unsure for which projects 4D BIM is interesting. While literature covers 4D BIM and several different uses, there is a knowledge gap concerning linking 4D BIM and associated 4D uses to different situations in practice. The objective of this research is to overcome this knowledge gap and to contribute to 4D BIM adoption by designing an assessment framework that supports the decision-making process for adopting 4D BIM and its most relevant 4D uses in different practical situations. A design science methodology was consulted to come up with a research method to design the framework. The research method consisted of three phases: problem investigation, design treatment and validation treatment. In the problem investigation phase, a theoretical and practical study was conducted to determine the most relevant 4D uses for infrastructure projects. The literature study resulted in twelve different 4D uses that are adopted across the entire life-cycle of infrastructure projects. However, literature in terms of practical situations in which these 4D uses are applied was limited. In addition, it was unknown which of these 4D uses were more relevant for Strukton Civiel. Therefore, practical information from Strukton Civiel was gathered to fill this knowledge gap. Project baselines and BIM action plan documents were studied to get an understanding of how 4D BIM is currently incorporated into the processes of Strukton Civiel. Besides, four of their projects were analysed as case studies to learn about the current application of 4D BIM in projects. By using the twelve 4D uses from the literature study as reference material, project members were interviewed to find reasons for applying these twelve uses. During this analysis, reasons were discovered which cannot be linked to specific 4D uses, but instead indicate if 4D BIM in general terms is feasible for the project. Furthermore, it was discovered that some 4D uses are applied as a configuration to decrease the combined effort of creating the 4D model. These configurations were evaluated by experts during an expert session. This session was also utilized to prioritize the most relevant and important 4D uses for Strukton Civiel at the time of analysis. Prioritization was done by plotting 4D uses on an impact versus effort matrix. Subsequently, this matrix was evaluated by experts and resulted in the six most relevant 4D uses. In the design treatment phase, the information gathered in the previous phase was used to develop the assessment framework. This was subsequently adapted into a practical application in the form of a quick scan tool. To achieve this goal, requirements were specified and aspects were determined that make up the framework. This resulted in a framework that v should provide insight into the following three aspects or components: (1) beneficial 4D uses that suit the practical situation, (2) the feasibility or potential of 4D BIM in general terms, (3) configurations of 4D uses that are often applied together. The quick-scan tool is an example of the practical applicability of the assessment framework. It is designed to give project managers a first idea of whether or not 4D BIM is interesting and what the possibilities are in terms of 4D uses for different situations in practice. Different situations can be imitated with the questionnaire, where the answers lead to different outcomes of the three components. The validation treatment of the quick-scan tool illustrated that experts generally thought that the tool is useful and that it adds value to projects. It was mentioned that the tool helps in engaging a discussion about the adoption of 4D BIM within the project. Moreover, it was indicated that the tool will be incorporated into the procedures of the company. However, it was also discovered that there is room for improvement. While the tool is capable of demonstrating the benefits of 4D BIM, insight into the implementation cost of developing the 4D model is desired. These costs have to be added to the result of the quick-scan in the future to balance out the assessment. Although this suggested the initiation of another design iteration, this research was limited to one iteration. To conclude, this research developed a supportive tool for the decision-making process for adopting 4D BIM. The framework and the tool offer insight into whether or not 4D BIM is interesting for the project and, if so, what 4D uses are suitable for the situation in practice. Further research could focus on improving the assessment framework through another design iteration and by including the implementation costs of developing the 4D model. For Strukton Civiel and other practitioners, it is recommended to incorporate the quick-scan tool into the procedures of the company. Despite the limitations of the tool, it provides a solid starting point when deciding to make use of 4D BIM.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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