Project planning and scheduling is an integral part of construction in the modern construction arena. The most popular approach: i.e. the critical path method (CPM), presents an early solution that can appropriately allocate resources at a minimum total cost when the objective is to minimize the total duration. However, the CPM may not obtain the optimal solution, and it is not able to consider resource constraints and deadlines. As such, the resource-constrained project scheduling problem (RCPSP) has been studied for decades as an essential problem in construction management; however, an integrated information model that fully supports the RCPSP solving process is still lacking. The introduction of building information modeling (BIM) was anticipated to fill this gap; unfortunately, to meet the data requirements in the building life cycle, some scheduling and resource information are not considered in information transfers between the information model and the RCPSP mathematical model. Besides, a thorough review of published literature reveals that few studies have considered the efficiency of information integration, which ultimately affect the practicability of the research results.
Overall, the information provided by BIM is incomplete for scheduling purposes. Therefore, it is necessary that a new information model be designed, an alternative data integration method for the model be established and a data transfer method from the model to the RCPSP for solving the data acquisition problem when generating RCPSPs in construction projects be realized. In light of this, researchers from the Department of Civil Engineering at Tsinghua University in China: Dr. Heng-Wei Wang, Assistant Professor Jia-Rui Lin and Professor Jian-Ping Zhang, proposed an integrated approach that could enable seamless data flow from the information model to the RCPSP model for construction scheduling. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Automation in Construction.
To begin with, an integrated information model that captured all the information required by most RCPSPs was established based on BIM and work package. Next, the researchers designed a novel MRCPSP model with the proposed information model in mind in that it could consider more parameters and constraints than most of the previous MRCPSP studies in the construction field. Finally, the team proposed a data transfer method to generate the proposed MRCPSP model automatically.
The authors highlighted that their work demonstrated a novel integrated approach to formalizing a construction information model using a semiautomatic data integration approach, covering the information requirement and enables fluent data flow in the RCPSP solving process. Interestingly, the work package-based information model was reported to being a successful attempt to introduce previously gained knowledge into automatic schedule generation processes.
In summary, the study by Tsinghua University scientists established an integrated approach that enables the seamless flow of data from the information model to the RCPSP, with the aim being to solve the data acquisition difficulty of RCPSPs. Generally, the research attempted to shed light on how to automate the data integration, model generation and solving process and contributes to the state of practice in applying complex RCPSP models in real-world projects. In a statement to Advances in Engineering, Professor Jia-Rui Lin commented that their approach could save 85% of the data input and modeling time.
Heng-Wei Wang, Jia-Rui Lin, Jian-Ping Zhang. Work package-based information modeling for resource-constrained scheduling of construction projects. Automation in Construction, volume 109 (2020) 102958.