Enhancing Lean Construction Planning with Cloud-Based BIM
Marc Howe posted on June 14, 2017 |

Autodesk’s BIM 360 Plan uses building information modeling (BIM) in tandem with cloud-connected mobility to centralize and improve the process of lean construction planning.

The software permits the creation of collaborative, centralized work plans by multiple stakeholders via the cloud, reducing the potential for coordination mismatches and removing the need for unwieldy paper printouts. Teams can access and update the work plan data housed centrally in the cloud irrespective of the time or location simply by using the BIM 360 Plan app on their iPads or conventional Web browsers on laptop and desktop computers.

Teams can access and update the work plan data housed centrally in the cloud irrespective of the time or location simply by using the BIM 360 Plan app on their iPads
Teams can access and update the work plan data in the cloud by using the BIM 360 Plan app on their iPads. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

At a basic level, BIM 360 Plan is a centralized, cloud-based organizing tool that gives users the ability to create work plans rapidly in list, Gantt or swim lane form as well as filter their construction tasks by date, work breakdown, company, location or status. BIM 360 Plan then builds upon this foundation by adding features for enhancing the process of lean construction planning.

A pivotal means by which BIM 360 Plan improves lean planning is its reporting engine, which automatically aggregates work data as projects develop and evolve. This enables users to spot trends and identify opportunities for correction or improvement, all of which lies at the core of lean principles for the management of production planning.

The software also automatically calculates the plan percent complete (PPC) for a project, avoiding the potential for spreadsheet errors, and allows users to filter results to show the PPC for specific date ranges, company, location or specific work breakdowns.

Pull planning in the form of sticky notes can also be imported into the software all at once via spreadsheet templates.

By means of cloud connectivity, all of these features and information can be accessed by users via their smart devices at any time or location.

British construction giant Balfour Beatty has already made use of BIM 360 Plan for lean planning purposes with the large-scale upgrade of London’s former Olympic Stadium.

“Balfour Beatty has been encouraging the adoption of BIM 360 across major projects,” said Stanley Nwokoro, BIM Manager at Balfour Beatty. “The Olympic Stadium transformation project is one of these key projects.”

“We’ve seen the benefits in the sense that our quality engineers and managers are able to raise 6,000 snags and assign them to the subcontractors.”

The experience left Balfour Beatty well apprised of the benefits that the transition from paper to digital can bring to project planning.

 “Construction still uses paper as the principle means to collect information and data,” said Kevin Lloyd, Principal BIM Integrator at Balfour Beatty. “By transferring this to other means such as tablets, we’re able to centralize our information within one database, which gives us one version of the truth.”

“Digital allows you to become leaner in the things you do. It helps you be more informed in terms of decision-making because it gives you access to real-time data,” said Dean Banks, MD for Construction Services UK and Executive Sponsor of Digital at Balfour Beatty.

BIM 360 Plan is part of the BIM 360 construction management package that Autodesk is promoting as a full suite of cloud-connected tools that can be used at any time or location during the lifecycle of a building project. It sits alongside a slew of other software applications that fall under the BIM 360 penumbra, including BIM 360 Field, BIM 360 Layout, BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Plan.

Autodesk is currently providing users with both free and paid pricing tiers for the product. The starting price for the fee-based tier is $29 per user per month.

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