Integrated 4D BIM Solutions with Drone Data for London Housing Projects

Irish contracting company, John Sisk & Son, created a comprehensive digital mapping solution called ‘digital containers’ using 4D BIM environment, and data capture using Drone technology, for the development of two housing projects in London’s Wembley Park.

Digital representation of Plot E03, Canada Gardens, and Plot E05, Quebec | Source: John Sisk & Son

Quintain, a leading property investment company, awarded a contract to John Sisk & Son for the development of housing projects in Wembley Park, namely Canada Gardens, or Plot E03, and Quebec, or Plot E05. The housing projects, along with a seven acre park, form the ‘Eastern Quarter’ of the £3.8 billion worth real estate development at Wembley Park, London. Plot E03 consists of 750 new homes, whereas E05 houses another 458 new built-to-rent homes across three blocks ranging in height from 10 to 21 storeys. Both projects have been operational and open for public use since March this year. The contractor made a significant investment and provided the project delivery team with accurate tools and knowledge to maximise the benefits of using a BIM environment and a fleet of Drones to create a comprehensive digital mapping solution called ‘digital containers’. These digital containers linked project information data produced in a BIM environment to smart containers in the BIM 360 Field platform using QR codes.

Innovative Construction Technologies Save Time and Cost to Deliver Award Winning Project

Digitization at different stages of the project

John Sisk & Son is a major advocate of digitization of construction projects in the United Kingdom and, for this project in particular, the company adopted advanced digital technologies in design coordination. They digitized the entire project lifecycle in the form of BIM models, which enabled optimal management of project resources. Digitization with 4D BIM models helped the contractor simulate different sets of scenarios that could emerge in the project and identified the potential project workflow. This enabled them to perform tasks based on data-driven decisions before construction activities began. These 4D models also highlighted potential hazards and potential safety concerns and helped the team working on site to resolve these issues. Sisk also used a comprehensive clash detection process that helped them track clashes throughout the design development stage. This ensured that the clashes were resolved prior to the construction stage and significantly reduced rework, saving at least £90,000 of costs in concrete reworks alone.

BIM Model developed based on 4D planning | Source: John Sisk & Son

Use of Drone technologies

John Sisk & Son deployed a fleet of six defect-detecting Drones for this particular project, which helped them eliminate the need for scaffolding because the 4D simulation efficiently helped the team on site to monitor health and safety issues. Sisk performed monthly progress reporting by feeding Drone footage, which enabled it to provide ‘planned vs actual’ comparisons giving more context to the senior management team. By using Drones and photogrammetry technology with the help of Cloud-based software, Sisk conducted cut and fill exercises in two to three days that would have taken approximately three weeks if traditional methods were followed. Sisk also used Drones for performing high-altitude quality and safety checks, which minimised on-site hazards and risk for the staff working on-site. Edited Drone footage allowed Sisk to explain weekly tasks during induction meetings, which resulted in better understanding of the site within a matter of minutes. These Drone technology solutions allowed Sisk to complete the concrete structure for both the projects eight weeks before the scheduled time.

Digital Project Delivery approach

Sisk opted for the Digital Project Delivery (DPD) approach for both the flagship projects in order to transform the project delivery process through digitization. This helped Sisk deliver the project with BIM standards, as prescribed by the industry, and facilitate the adoption of advanced digitization in the form of Digital Twins. Sisk produced Digital Twins, which integrated as-built data with asset information, and centralised the storage of all information related to the projects for operation and maintenance purposes. Sisk also delegated an entire project information management team whose primary responsibility was to supervise and validate the data collected through the project lifecycle.

As part of their ambitious three-year company-wide strategy, Sisk has been training their staff comprehensively to move gradually towards an entirely digitized approach in project delivery. This has enabled them to create ‘digital containers’, a comprehensive digital mapping solution that helps link project related information produced by BIM professionals through 4D planning to smart containers in the BIM 360 Field platform. The containers are connected with a QR code that permits them to link unlimited amount of information to each asset and improve collaboration. This also allows Sisk to reduce project delays and shift their focus towards optimising the project workflow.  

Road to recovery and success

Sisk’s digital team has used several Autodesk BIM 360 solutions, such as, BIM 360 Field and BIM 360 Glue, in delivering these two projects successfully. Sisk developed a Cloud based API between its Common Data Environment, namely Viewpoint for Projects (VFP) and Autodesk BIM 360. This transferred information from VFP to Autodesk BIM 360 Field, automatically updating and approving information on the site. It also enabled the multi-disciplinary technicians in Sisk associated with the project to access the information remotely using digital tablets installed with the Autodesk BIM360 application. Further, access to the model with location tags allowed the team on site to confidently locate issues within the buildings. Sisk also used Autodesk BIM360 Glue, which allowed the consultants associated with the projects to track the model in real-time. Finally, Autodesk BIM360 Field enhanced the efficiency of site activities as it allowed teams at Sisk to track real-time information related to fleet management and materials procurement. 

Results and recognition

4D models played a critical role in achieving time savings at different stages of the project. In the early stages, due to lack of coordinated models, Sisk had to rework the basement floors. However, through the vigorous clash detection process that was developed in the later stages, the design team could shift to a 3D based collaboration platform. This resulted in significantly less rework and avoided close to £90,000 of cost in concrete reworks. Also, the ‘digital containers’ solution enabled Sisk to generate value propositions across different project delivery stages. In the quality assessment stage, the travel time between site and office to print the updated information and daily reports was significantly reduced. These technological interventions led to 35% time savings during this stage. Also, these interventions enabled Sisk to complete concrete structures of both the projects eight weeks prior to the deadline.

Sisk was awarded the prestigious Autodesk AEC Excellence Award for ‘Medium Size Construction Project’ in 2019, which was based on criteria like ‘benefits of digital and/or model-based workflows’ and ‘use of sustainable construction practices and/or contributes to positive social impact’.

Project Facts
Location London, United Kingdom
Year of Completion 2021
Client Quintain
Main contractor John Sisk & Son
Technology partner Autodesk
Technologies used BIM, Drones and Digital Twin

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