Time management and construction activities scheduling: here’s what a 4D modeling software is and what it is used for
BIM, as the latest evolution of the building industry, incorporates technology, people and processes to improve outcomes in construction by building collaboratively and streamlining time and cost.
In this blog insight we’ll be particularly taking a look at 4D modeling, exploring the use of a 4D modeling software to see how it can help you manage and deliver your construction project on time.
We’ll also provide you a practical example produced with Edificius (the architectural BIM design software) to deal with BIM construction work phases time management for improved activities organisation. For more info, visit the dedicated page and download Edificius for free.
What is 4D Modeling
Let’s start off by defining what is the fourth dimension of BIM intended as an approach in design, when an object is considered not only in space, but also in time.
With 4D modeling we define the connection between the work three-dimensional model (3D) and the works schedule to be performed on it (4D). It is used for activities related to site planning, including means and people employed, allowing the best organization in terms of time.
Often this dimension is the least explored and used throughout the project’s life (construction, maintenance, etc.). The consequences, however, could be negative regarding the management of delivery times causing also meaningful costs increase.
The 4D model allows you to immediately extract and visualize the course of the project over time, but only if the elements of the 3D model are linked to the relevant planning activities. So 3D modeling must be managed in a way that is consistent with the planning of individual activities at all stages.
In addition to this, finally, you need also to take into account provisional works and all those elements that serve the site organization. This allows for more detailed time and cost management, modifying the elements where necessary.
What are 4D modeling software and what are they used for?
4D modeling software basically allow you to manage construction work activities by producing an organized plan with respect to time, personnel employed and costs.
In the past, 4D models were typically created by hand by the person managing the different types of activities (construction, design, site activities, etc.). The final result was a simple timeline with the activities differentiated with different colors. There wasn’t any direct relationship between model and activity therefore, with every changes applied to the model, the entire project time schedule had to be manually recreated.
Next came the first CAD software, which allowed the digitization of what was previously paper. Also in this case, activities were differentiated by colored fills, but they had options of activation and deactivation that made the model more interactive. Images and animations could be created to make the timeline easier to read thanks to the collaboration between the different figures. But still it was not possible to directly connect the model to the activities. In fact, with every change to the model the work time schedules, videos and images had to be updated manually, reducing this tool to be adopted only during the planning phases.
Today, thanks to the continuous development of BIM, 4D modeling software enable you to better manage the various work phases. In fact, your 4D model is constantly synchronized with the different changes applied, allowing you to:
- import the various BIM models, checking all the information you need for correct modeling (geometry, element names and hierarchy, etc.)
- merge different 3D BIM models
- add all the objects that are a specific part of certain activities even if not directly related to the work (for example, objects in a material storage area)
- create animations simulating the project evolution
- share the entire 4D model with your colleagues
- export the obtained chart.
A practical example produced with Edificius
Let’s now move on to see how to produce project time schedules using Edificius from its environment dedicated to project time management and activities planning.
When launching the dedicated environment, you can observe the home page divided into two overlapping parts:
- a window at the top showing the 3D model of your project
- a window at the bottom with a GANTT diagram.
In the timeline you can associate all the project elements which you can take directly from the 3D model to the activities/works. You can perform this operation for all the works linked to the various phases of the works execution (demolition and removal, reconstruction, etc.), simply with drag & drop.
In the same window you can check all the operation phases thanks to the Real Time Rendering, that allows you to record the presentation video or generate the timeline document that you can print directly from Edificius or export in pdf format.
You can see how in a few simple steps you can plan the activities attributing a temporal dimension to your BIM model thanks to the specific function of Edificius, simulating its evolution in the different project phases.
Finally, you can share the project with your team mates taking advantage of usBIM (the ACCA software’s scalable and configurable BIM management system).