A new digital project control room, developed by UCL and partners, is set to radically improve the management and delivery of complex building projects.
To improve efficiency and reduce wastage in construction, by giving contractors access to comprehensive digital project management and reporting data
SHIFT pillar: Tech and innovation
Partners: UCL, Imperial College London, Mace, 3D Repo, EviFile, MissionRoom
Construction projects are infamous for their delays, omissions, overruns and often spiralling costs. This is often due to the complexity of these projects, and a lack of good data or data sharing within a complicated ecosystem.
Thanks to a new project led by UCL and partners, construction company Mace is now trialling a solution that could radically improve the way these large building projects are run.
The AEC Production Control Room uses live data feeds to paint an accurate picture of what’s happening on a construction site at any one time. From people and deliveries in and out, to external forces that can adversely impact a site such as traffic delays or weather.
UCL worked on the project with Mace, three technical partners (UCL spinout 3D Repo, EviFile and MissionRoom) and experts from Imperial College London.
The UCL research team contributed their expertise in intelligent streaming analytics, state of the art survey of control rooms, and business models for integrated construction project delivery.
Clients, planners, site managers and engineers can now use the system to track real-time project performance and take action based on insights, early risk warnings and benchmarking.
For example, by tracking the status of each construction element (such as all structural steel items) from design, approval, manufacture and delivery, all the way to site fitting and completion. Or using weather data to assess whether cranes will be operational, based on the wind levels on a particular day.
The first phase of the project, supported by Innovate UK, is complete. The new Control Room platform is now operational at Paddington Square, 40 Leadenhall, Network Rail’s Project Alpha and a fourth master Control Room at Mace HQ office.
Replacing whiteboards and inefficient data sharing with a digital control room means Mace can now see exactly what’s happening on their sites at any given time. This proactive, rather than reactive, approach to project management should result in less wastage, less inefficiencies and projects being completed faster.
A second project is now underway to assess the return on investment of the platform. This information will then be used to support the roll out of the digital control room concept more widely across Mace’s portfolio and the wider industry.
“Working with our partners over the last 22 months, we’ve been able to build a scalable ‘plug-and-play’ construction management and reporting platform that is now being tested on three major infrastructure projects in the UK. We’ll be sharing the benefits, outcomes and designs with the industry to encourage more contractors to move to this digital control room way of working. This work represents a quantum leap forward for the construction industry that should make large building projects significantly cheaper and faster.”
Professor Duncan Wilson, Professor of Connected Environments, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment.