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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 86
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper 70

Automation of Project Controls

N. Eldin1 and L. Schilling2

1Department of Construction, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology (IUPUI), Indianapolis IN, USA
2Project Controls Engineer, Bechtel O&GC, Houston TX, USA

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
N. Eldin, L. Schilling, "Automation of Project Controls", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Computing", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 70, 2007. doi:10.4203/ccp.86.70
Keywords: integration of cost-schedule data, automation of project controls, software compatibility, computer applications in CM, automation of construction schedules.

The construction industry in the USA faces measurable shortage in human resources at both the labor force as well as project management staff. Such shortage in manpower has forced the industry to continuously seek higher levels of efficiency in both field operations and project management processes. This paper focuses on the improvement of project management processes.

One of the areas that attract management attention is project controls. In particular, the tasks of preparing and maintaining the information necessary for controlling the budgetary and timeliness for construction projects tend to consume valuable time at critical project milestones. To elaborate, in the beginning of each project the project management team spends considerable time preparing the project schedule, finalizing project control budget, and setting up means to reconcile budgets and expenditures with field activities. Once the project execution starts, considerable effort is often dedicated to the determination of progress, reflecting progress on the project schedule, and analyzing data to detect deviations form the execution plan [1,2,3]. Many of these tasks can be automated to significantly improve the project management efficiency.

This paper provides a comprehensive framework for automating the above project controls tasks. Specifically, a computer-aided procedure is presented in order to automate the preparation of construction schedules, quantify work progress, reflect current progress on the project schedule, and to identify activities deviating from the execution plan. The procedure involves the development of a database that maintains all possible construction activities to facilitate the creation of a project schedule. The activities are bundled in systems and subsystems (building blocks) to allow high efficiency in choosing the project activities without requiring the project team to specify individually each activity and its logic. Once activities are selected the database automatically associates characteristic information to such activities (e.g., logic, resources, and progress milestones). Through a user interface that invokes background calculations, the efforts and time of determining progress, reflecting progress on the project schedule, and analyzing data for assessment of performance are significantly minimized. Two commonly available computer packages are used in developing the computer-aided procedure: Microsoft ACCESS and Primavera Project PlannerR.

In addition to saving time and effort, the presented automated procedure would encourage project schedulers to run what-if-scenarios more often and benefit from analyzing all possible scheduling alternatives. This automated procedure would also make it possible to assign the task of preparing a schedule to a less seasoned staff and limit the more seasoned staff to final reviews and modifications of initial schedules.

Arditi, D., Mochtar, K. "Trends in productivity improvement in the US construction industry", Construction Management and Economics, 18, 15-27, 2000. doi:10.1080/014461900370915
Liberatore, Pollack-Johnson, Smith, "Project management in construction: software use and research directions", Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 127(2), 2001. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9364(2001)127:2(101)
Perera, A., Imriyas, K. "An integrated construction project cost information system using MS Access and MS Project", Construction Management and Economics, 22, 203-211, 2004. doi:10.1080/0144619042000201402

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