The use of virtual prototyping to rehearse the sequence of construction work involving mobile cranes

Heng Li, Neo K.Y. Chan, Martin Skitmore*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - Rehearsing practical site operations is without doubt one of the most effective methods for minimising planning mistakes, because of the learning that takes place during the rehearsal activity. However, real rehearsal is not a practical solution for on-site construction activities, as it not only involves a considerable amount of cost but can also have adverse environmental implications. One approach to overcoming this is by the use of virtual rehearsals. The purpose of this paper is to investigate an approach to simulation of the motion of cranes in order to test the feasibility of associated construction sequencing and generate construction schedules for review and visualisation.

Design/methodology/approach - The paper describes a system involving two technologies, virtual prototyping (VP) and four-dimensional (4D) simulation, to assist construction planners in testing the sequence of construction activities when mobile cranes are involved. The system consists of five modules, comprising input, database, equipment, process and output, and is capable of detecting potential collisions. A real-world trial is described in which the system was tested and validated. 

Findings - Feedback from the planners involved in the trial indicated that they found the system to be useful in its present form and that they would welcome its further development into a fully automated platform for validating construction sequencing decisions. 

Research limitations/implications - The tool has the potential to provide a cost-effective means of improving construction planning. However, it is limited at present to the specific case of crane movement under special consideration. 

Originality/value - This paper presents a large-scale, real life case of applying VP technology in planning construction processes and activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-446
Number of pages18
JournalConstruction Innovation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


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