Integrated planning systems for the construction industry
This thesis reports on a CAD-based integrated model developed to aid the planning of the construction of in-situ concrete structures. The main aim of this model is to automate the planning process of in-situ concrete structures using data generated by CAD systems. In order to achieve this goal, the integration of a CAD system (AutoCAD 10) and a computerised planning system (Artemis 2000) via a database program (dBase IV) has been achieved on an IBM PS2 Model 70 microcomputer. This enables the generation of network plans in the AutoCAD system which are then automatically transferred to the Artemis system for time and cost analyses. Currently, the system can handle concreting, steel fixing and formwork activities associated with in-situ concrete design elements. However, further enhancement of the model is possible in order to automate the generation of most construction activities. In order to develop this CAD-based integrated planning model, it was necessary to undertake a questionnaire survey on the current status of planning techniques and information technology uses amongst the main UK and US contractors. This survey reveals that many of these contractors are now aware of the benefits that a CAD system can offer to the management and planning of in-situ concrete structures. It was also found that many aspects of information technology such as computer aided design and project management are well within the reach of most of the companies surveyed, and that many recent developments could be used to develop integrated systems as an aid to the planning of construction projects. These findings indicate that the application of such systems could soon become a reality. However, the practicality of these techniques has to be assessed on real life projects which could be the subject of a further research. The CAD-based integrated model described in this thesis offers many facilities for: modeling, drafting, materials and quantities scheduling, time and cost analyses and reporting which were all integrated and incorporated within such a single system. These facilities which have been fully customised within the developed package are easy to be run as the software is user friendly with pull-down and pop-up menus, and help facilities provided at almost all levels. This thesis demonstrates that current software and hardware technologies are more than sufficient to establish new approaches to the planning and management of in-situ concrete structures, particularly in the area of computer aided design. Such approaches can rectify many of the deficiencies found in traditional planning systems. For instance, a CAD-based system could eliminate the re-extraction of information from conventional drawings and documents which could be error prone as an access to the original electronic building model is provided within such a system. In addition, accurate quantities associated with sets of design elements and relevant to the planning process are automatically generated within the system.