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Control room concept to radically improve project delivery

18 August 2020

Innovate UK has announced funding for a new ‘demonstrator’ project - led by UCL East constructors Mace and with involvement from the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management.

UCL East campus construction

The project will deploy a new production control room concept in some of the UK’s most complex and challenging projects.

Alongside Mace, who are the constructors behind Marshgate, the partners involved with this project in addition to the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management include the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, as well as Imperial College London, 3D Repo, Mission Room and eviFile. 

The 'AEC Production Control Room' project will bring to life the large volumes of data that drive modern complex construction projects in a shared collaborative digital environment.

In line with the Governmental Industrial Strategy Construction Sector Deal, the aim is to improve the performance of UK construction by better, more efficient and proactive rather than reactive project management.

UCL’s contribution in the project is to:

  • review the State of the Art in visualisation techniques and mixed reality technologies that may create disruptive innovations in construction management and reporting platforms through a multidisciplinary analysis of how other sectors store, present and act on data insights.
  • conduct user requirements analysis of tools and techniques used by the project partners and their stakeholders to advance integrated business model development and collaborative planning in the construction supply chain.
  • design and prototype real-time analytics techniques for identifying and highlighting emergent trends to facilitate an “industry 4.0 construction site” driven by communications technology, data and Artificial Intelligence.

The project team will build a scalable and repeatable 'plug-and-play' construction management and reporting platform that will be tested on three major infrastructure projects in the UK. This digital project management platform will be accessible via physical site-mounted 'AEC Production Control Rooms' that will display a suite of preconfigured performance metrics using real-time data, facilitating forward planning and collaborative decision making at team, project and portfolio level. A fourth HQ-mounted Master Control Room will enable benchmarking across different projects remotely.

Clients, planners, site managers and engineers will be able to track real-time project performance and take action based on insights. These stakeholders will, for the first time, be able to objectively compare 'what was planned' versus 'what has been delivered'. Such a solution will track the status of each construction element (for instance all structural steel elements) from design, approval, manufacture and delivery, all the way to site fitting/completion, and facilitate future opportunities for operational cost savings via Digital Twin capabilities at the national level.

A feedback loop will enable predictive analytics such as early risk warnings, benchmarking across different portfolio projects and continuous 4D planning. All information will be set out clearly in both physical and digital space so that the parties involved can either collaborate remotely, or in person within the AEC Production Control Room on site.

Grant Mills, The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, said:

"This work provides a natural extension to our Project 13 research into moving from a transactional project-based approach to a more collaborative and integrated enterprise-based model. We hope through our research to overcome some of the most significant transformation challenges faced by the industry and to help build a new open, interoperable and transparent data environment."

Eleni Papadonikolaki, The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, said:

“This is an exciting new project with some of our past InnovateUK project collaborators, 3DRepo, with whom we worked together in the IUK AEC Delta Mobility project. This new consortium is truly multi-disciplinary and brings together different parts of the Bartlett as well as a number of SMEs under the project leadership of MACE. As CPM we are involved in understanding the business and governance models of this revolutionary AEC production control room platform.”

Duncan Wilson, The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, said:

"Being able to demonstrate the AEC Production Control Room on live projects will allow us to explore the disruptive potential for innovations in real-time predictive analytics using novel machine learning techniques and the opportunities for the XR technologies used within our Connected Environments research. Working with our industrial and SME collaborators will enable us to share the benefits, outcomes, and designs with the industry in order to encourage widespread adoption and support across the construction industry."