4D BIM Enabled by Oracle-Assemble Partnership
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on March 05, 2018 | | 3557 views

Oracle’s business is information: managing it, storing it, networking it and doing anything else with it you can imagine. In the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) space, this means taking the large swaths of data associated with massive construction projects and making them manageable and meaningful for project teams.

Assemble's Schedule Integrator. (Image courtesy of Assemble Systems.)
Assemble's Schedule Integrator. (Image courtesy of Assemble Systems.)

Now, the tech giant is working with Assemble Systems, a GoldLevel member of its Oracle Partner Network, to bring building information modeling (BIM) to Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management solution. ENGINEERING.com spoke to Mark Jenkins, director of product strategy at Oracle Construction and Engineering GBU, to learn how Assemble Systems fits into the larger vision that Oracle has for AEC.

Fast, Cloud-Based BIM

Assemble Systems is known for its cloud solutions for BIM, drawings and point clouds, which make it possible for project team members to share and use data across the web. Jenkins pointed out that one of the most unique features of Assemble’s technology is its speed.

“Assemble Systems has a very, very robust web-based BIM viewer,” Jenkins said. “It is incredibly fast. It can bring in models from various sources and information from different modeling tools and combine them all into the company’s cloud service for BIM viewing. The one thing that really sets the viewer apart is speed. It’s incredibly fast.”

Not only is it a feat to transfer CAD quickly across the web, but the data associated with BIM models also make web applications that much more cumbersome. Assemble, however, is able to render BIM models in such a way as to allow for real-time interaction on the web.

Jenkins pointed out that, in addition to real-time rendering, Assemble is also able to quantify BIM data in ways that others can’t. The quantities that are applied to model objects are extended to other commodities that may or may not be modeled. This quality in particular will make it possible to integrate with Oracle’s Prime Projects Cloud Service.

Costs are directly related to the quantities associated with the model objects in a BIM project. Additionally, the quantities directly relate to the time it takes to install each of those elements on the construction site. This brings us to improvements in scheduling that may be possible through the integration of Assemble Systems’ software.


4D scheduling is becoming increasingly used in the AEC industry for its ability to visualize project schedules so that project teams can ensure that no two construction operations conflict. Though the implementations of 4D BIM may vary in terms of graphical output, integration of Assemble’s software with Oracle’s Primavera P6 will provide 4D simulations of an entire or partial scope of a project. These simulations can be helpful in validating the schedule before time and money are wasted on the construction site. They can also be useful for validating that work occurred on time and in the proper sequence at the end of the day.

4D scheduling with Assemble. (Image courtesy of Assemble Systems.)
4D scheduling with Assemble. (Image courtesy of Assemble Systems.)

Jenkins explained that while the 4D scheduling process is still a manual one, visual validation of the project schedule can prove invaluable. “Today, a scheduler looks at the drawings and the site, creates activities that represent the work and puts them in the proper order,” Jenkins said. “But schedules can be very large in size, and the scheduler might not realize that a relationship is omitted between two activities. With 4D scheduling, it’s possible to marry the schedule with the 3D models and watch it played back in a simulation. The scheduler can validate the construction sequence to ensure that it’s actually buildable.”

Due to Assemble’s ability to share BIM data quickly across the web, the integration will now enable project team members, both onsite and in the office, to view and collaborate on the 4D schedule via the cloud and in realtime.

Oracle’s Place in AEC

For Oracle, BIM isn’t the company’s primary focus in the AEC space. Oracle is, in some ways,beyond BIM, looking at managing the data associated with construction, regardless of the form it takes. Jenkins explained that Oracle Construction and Engineering is focused on managing the overall design and construction of a project as it relates to cost, schedule and other business processes. This includes drawings, requests for information, submittals, change orders and other project management documents.

“[Project management] is our predominant focus, but that definitely lends itself to wanting to be able to show schedule information graphically in a 4D simulation or load costs onto the activities so that you can also see what your expenditures will be graphically using a 5D simulation,” Jenkins said. “We want to be a consumer of the BIM information that exists on a project, but not necessarily be the authoring tool of it.”

For the future of this partnership, Jenkins said that he wants to “empower the people who are closest to the work so that they can actually plan out their work and be the authors of the 4D schedule.”

“Currently, the way the process works in the industry is that we have schedulers working with the superintendent to develop the master schedule, people in the virtual design space within that organization of the company,” said Jenkins. “To perform a 4D simulation, we go through this manual effort of combining what the schedule is and what the model is. It’s not really empowering the people who are closest to the work and who really know how to build those components.”

In the long term, Jenkins hopes to give people—for example, a project’s foreman—the ability to build virtually within a model, rather than relying on technical experts, like those performing BIM modeling or scheduling. In other words, it sounds like 4D scheduling might actually become easier, which can only make the construction process more efficient and more likely to stay within budget.

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