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AMHIGLEY BUILDERS BLOG: Enhancing Project Visualization - Exploring the Impact of 4D Scheduling


AMHigley employees give their technical expertise and insights on the construction industry. This month’s blog features Dan Oprisescu taking an in depth look at 4D scheduling and the benefits it brings to a project.

Enhancing Project Visualization: Exploring the Impact of 4D Scheduling

enter image description here Dan Oprisescu, Senior Project Controls Manager - 9 Years with AMHigley

The visual aspect of construction is at the forefront of many stakeholders during the lifecycle of a project. From logistics plans to photo updates, visuals help not only the project team, but owners and clients understand how a project is progressing. This can also be applied to scheduling a project. 4D scheduling involves creating the visual representation of a project’s timeline by integrating the schedule with a 3D model of the construction site. Overall, this helps stakeholders better understand how the project will progress over time, allowing for improved planning and communication.

Using 4D Scheduling as a method to incorporate the element of time within the traditional three dimensions (length, width and height). It is not a different way of building a schedule but a unique way to visualize a project. 4D Scheduling does not involve reinventing the wheel but instead making it spin better. The 4D scheduling process involves several steps to integrate time into the 3D model:

  • Create a 3D Model: The architect creates a 3D model to deliver to the construction partner/manager.
  • Develop a Project Schedule: A Gantt Chart is developed as a normal project schedule.
  • Link Schedule to 3D Model: Once the schedule is developed it will be uploaded to a 4D scheduling software, or you can build a schedule within the software.
  • Analysis and Schedule Optimization: Schedulers analyze how to best alter the schedule to make for an efficient project and optimize the timeline for the project.
  • Progress Monitoring and Updates: As the project progresses the 4D schedule is monitored to check progress and updates can be made to accommodate schedule changes.
  • Generate reports and documentation: Adding the visual aspects, CPM + snapshot of 4D, all build the picture of what each stage of the project will look like as well as show the progress of the project.

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Using 4D scheduling software offers several advantages over traditional scheduling methods, especially regarding construction:

  1. Enhanced Visualization
  2. Improved Communication
  3. Early Problem Identification
  4. Optimized Resource Allocation
  5. Accurate Schedule Updates
  6. Risk Mitigation
  7. Client Engagement
  8. Increased Efficiency
  9. Competitive Advantage

These benefits are all provided through specialized software such as SYNCHO PRO, Assemble Systems, or Navisworks, and while they can be self-taught, using the software does require extensive training and expertise, which will always add initial costs and complexity to project management. The software can only build the 4D schedule. To comprehend what is being shown and how it can affect a project, requires experienced schedulers with deep knowledge of BIM/VDS and the software. Due to these limitations in personnel available to control and understand 4D scheduling, it is mostly used within the pursuit and preconstruction stage.

From an industry perspective, there are multiple practical uses for 4D scheduling. Construction projects, Infrastructure and civil engineering projects, and MEP projects. The markets that are best served by 4D scheduling includes: the oil/gas/energy sector, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions. 4D Scheduling is not useful for interior renovation projects because the level of detail required for interior projects cannot be shown within the 4D software.

Each phase of a project can be broken down into separate visuals: enter image description here

As technology advances, so does the ability of 4D scheduling. 3D models have already improved the graphics, which helps the overall visualization within the software. SNYCHRO has a mobile app that allows construction professionals to update the schedules while on-site. In the future, 4D scheduling will have greater integration across all project management platforms. Additionally, there will be a greater connection to other visualization software, such as OpenSpace that allows for jobsites to be completely covered with just a camera attached to a hard hat. This for example, tackles the obstacle of how to show a project in West Virigina to executives in Ohio. Of course, the use of AI and continual use of robotics on project sites will influence 4D scheduling by requiring accurate coordination of these technologies within the project timeline.

4D scheduling positively impacts owners and clients by providing them with better project understanding, improved communication, risk mitigation and cost control. It fosters a collaborative and informed project environment, leading to greater satisfaction and successful project outcomes.