Wednesday, 05 December 2012

Resources industry to benefit from virtual construction

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BIM curtinProf Wang says the research will see improvements on megaprojects as well as on smaller-scale projects such as hospitals and commercial projects. Image: Prof WangCURTIN is taking a leading step to help the resources industry avoid cost blowouts and project delays by researching the inefficiencies across labour construction industries.

The Australian construction and resources industry experiences segments of poor productivity, often due to inefficient processes compounding further in large projects.

Curtin Professor Xiangyu Wang is developing research that would allow all members of a construction team to generate the characteristics and functionalities of their building, plant or road network virtually, so as to pinpoint errors before they happen on the real construction site.

According to Prof Wang, building information modelling (BIM) is central to the research.

“BIM has been previously recognised and adopted as a tool in building construction industries,” Prof Wang says.

“It’s a concept of shared platform where people can collaborate with each other horizontally and vertically along the different stages of the project lifecycle.”

According to Prof Wang, 60 per cent of workers’ time onsite is wasted looking for information, meaning that only 40 per cent of it is left to do the work—a situation he says BIM and other technologies can help.

But BIM isn’t very active in Australia, let alone in WA, and Prof Wang says the technology needs to be pushed to the next level in order to adequately help the industry manage costs and delays throughout the entirety of megaprojects such as LNG plants, from design right through to maintenance.

To do so, Curtin has partnered with oil and gas giant Woodside and Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China to open the Australasian Joint Research Centre for Building Information Modelling.

“The centre was established to help increase Australia’s competitiveness, creating new critical knowledge and developing approaches and solutions through research to reduce cost schedule overruns, especially for mega-projects, and to help minimise risk and safety issues,”  Prof Wang said.

“The centre will conduct high-end research and integrate it with advanced technologies, such as virtual reality, wearable computing, mobile and ubiquitous computing, tracking and sensing, social networking tools, user interaction, cloud computing, augmented reality, semantics and more.”

Prof Wang says the research will see improvements on megaprojects as well as on smaller-scale projects such as hospitals and commercial projects.

The partners are currently focusing on project ECHO, initiated by Woodside, to improve productivity and performance in LNG construction.

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