Visualising big data from construction plant and equipment

by Andrew Johnson | September 11, 2020 |  3 min read

Visualising big data from construction plant and equipment
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Visualisation tools are extensively used by project planners in high level simulations. Planners use construction workspaces to conduct digital rehearsals for plant and equipment identifying dynamic clash detection at all stages of the project. Currently, visualisation tools focus on looking ahead – a day, week or month – normally in the form of a Gantt chart or 3D model. Now imagine if everyone could view plant and equipment within a project through live data in a 3D model in a 4D platform, synchronised with all the activities occurring on both the works programme and site.

BIM Academy conducted a feasibility study in 2019 to research just that. The results show we can improve the productivity of plant and equipment by using big data. A 4D platform will not only influence productivity and safety in a project, it will also reduce the harmful impact plant and equipment has on the environment by reducing emissions through improved efficiency.

In 2019, BIM Academy, in collaboration with BuildStream, Costain and Northumbria University, conducted a feasibility study to research if utilising BIM and 4D could improve the sequence for timing and equipment utilisation in real-time, feeding live data to all stakeholders on projects. To enhance the feasibility study into a proof of concept, we received funding through Innovate UK, and the concept 4D platform “Siteview” was born.

The BIM Academy’s software development team have made significant process in Q1. The team have been working in tandem developing the front-end and back-end for Siteview to function properly. We have combined a reactive front-end library using vue.js and Autodesk’s Forge viewer. Utilising these technologies allows us to extend and customise the base functionality of Siteview over time.

Siteview’s backend is built utilising python 3.8 and Django for rapid creation of the backend infrastructure and management system. The database is underpinned with an OpenAPI interface which allows us to translate any data received into useable data for the platform. This enables communication with the site, works programme and machinery, and a few custom API tools for translating the data into BIM or data viewer.

The platform development has only been possible with use cases and smartphone-based telematic data requirements provided by Northumbria University. Together, we created user output requirements and mapped data sets allowing BuildStream to link the mobile app to Siteview’s dashboard.

With extensive experience in civil engineering, Walters Group allowed access to the Preston Western Distributor link road project, including a detailed works programmes and 3D models. Our partner BuildStream developed the alpha mobile app and conducted the first field test in collaboration with Walters Group supplying the project with data. Assisting in the creation of the use cases and data sets, we used the detailed works programme and 3D models.

Now halfway through Q2, we are exploring Machine Learning in collaboration with Northumbria University. The data provided from BuildStream has allowed us to link and setup API for integration between Siteview and modelled objects. The next focus is on the second field test, where we will pull live data and link plant and equipment to Siteview platform.