Control of construction progress using point clouds and BIM

Control of construction progress using point clouds and BIM

watchbuilt nuvens de pontos e BIM

Managing a construction project is a complex and multifaceted process that requires the coordination of several multidisciplinary teams, following a dynamic schedule that is subject to continuous adaptation. In order to ensure effective control of costs and quality throughout execution, it is essential that the follow-up is able to monitor progress on site and, at the same time, relate the tasks carried out to the elements detailed in the project.

Usually, responsibility for monitoring construction progress falls to a dedicated team. Despite having tools to support the management of schedules, budgets and resources, this team continues to rely on manual procedures that are time-consuming and prone to error. This situation has prompted significant research into the feasibility of automating these processes.

Increasingly, the application of the BIM methodology in the initial project development phase is being extended to the building construction phase. The expansion of the open IFC format now makes it possible to incorporate detailed information on execution and planning tasks on site, making it a key vehicle for transferring information between the different teams and software involved. At the same time, laser scanning and photogrammetry technology for acquiring point clouds, together with their processing using artificial intelligence, facilitate the implementation of Scan-to-BIM methodologies.

It was within this context that BUILT CoLAB established an international partnership with WatchBuilt – a technology company in the field of digitalisation of the built environment – with the aim of implementing an online platform that supports and automates the control of construction progress by coordinating the BIM model with successive point cloud surveys throughout the construction process.

The solution developed by BUILT CoLAB has two components interconnected by API: a web application that allows you to import, explore and visualise models with construction progress information; and desktop software that feeds parameters relating to the execution progress of the different elements into the BIM model. The implementation of this solution enables WatchBuilt to offer its users robust features for the automatic management of construction progress in real time.

Figure 1. Software architecture.

The web platform was developed in React and Node.js and its architecture safeguards the registration of user accounts with login-protected access to reserved project areas (secured in SQL databases). This space has a visualiser with advanced navigation tools (implemented in IFC.js), where you can inspect the 3D model, including in plan and/or section; filter elements by type, category, material or location in the building; access the tree of parameters associated with the BIM model; as well as explore progress tables and Gantt charts related to construction management.

Through the platform it is also possible to download and install the desktop software responsible for processing the point clouds surveyed on site. This software was developed in Python in order to take advantage of IfcOpenShell for processing IFC files, as well as libraries such as PDAL and Open3D , references in point cloud processing. This application is capable of generating a point cloud representative of the IFC model, registering it with a point cloud surveyed on site (in .xyz, .pcd, .ply or .e57 format) and comparing the two using a voxelisation algorithm developed in-house. Finally, it exports the updated model (in .ifc or .json format), now containing the percentage of construction progress for each element of the model.

This partnership has enabled BUILT CoLAB to contribute to the development of new solutions that will allow companies to see their construction processes increasingly digitised, increasing their efficiency, productivity and competitiveness.

Figure 2 – Web platform homepage

Figure 3: Cloud mapped on site and cloud modelled using the IFC model.

Figure 4 – Record of point cloud mapped on site and synthesised point cloud

Figure 5 – Construction progress web viewer.

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