Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is the management of integrated multi-disciplinary performance models of design-construction projects, including the product (i.e., facilities), work processes and organization of the design - construction - operation team in order to support explicit and public business objectives. The theoretical basis of VDC includes:
Engineering modeling methods: product, organization, process Analysis methods - Model-based design: including quantities, schedule, cost, 4D interactions and process risks, these are termed Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools Visualization methods Business metrics - within Business analytics - and a focus on strategic management Economic impact analysis, i.e., models of both the cost and value of capital investments
"Virtual Design and Construction BIMs are virtual because they show computer-based descriptions of the project. The BIM project model emphasizes those aspects of the project that can be designed and managed, i.e., the product (typically a building or plant and infrastructure), the Organization that will define, design, construct and operate it, and the Process that the organization teams will follow, that is Product-Organization-Process or POP. These models are logically integrated in the sense that they all can access shared data, and if a user highlights or changes an aspect of one, the integrated models can highlight or change the dependent aspects of related models. The models are multi-disciplinary in the sense that they represent the Architect, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Owner of the project, as well as relevant sub-disciplines. The models are performance models in the sense that they predict some aspects of project performance, track many that are relevant, and can show predicted and measured performance in relationship to stated project performance objectives. Some companies now practice the first steps of BIM modeling, and they consistently find that they improve business performance by doing so.Companies are also now considering developing BIMs in various levels of detail, since depending on the application of BIM, more or less detail is needed, and there is varying modeling effort associated with generating building information models at different levels of detail.
Advancements in construction engineering began with the ten volumes on architecture completed by Vitruvius, a 1 century B.C. Roman. Vitruvi laid the foundation for the study of construction. A principle of construction is the use of an Applied ontology based in an Upper ontology. In practice, these ontologies take on the form of breakdown structures such as the Work breakdown structure. Usually these breakdown structures form Metadata to represent a construction activity. In practice, this requires a Semantic integration approach to construction data so to capture the project status. The research that formed VDC is based in Scientific evidence. This was a departure from earlier construction engineering that focused on studies of best practices. This required formulating a Hypothesis and then testing to validate. A range of methodologies have proven useful in construction engineering research, both Qualitative research and Quantitative research. Because construction is difficult to replicate in a controlled setting, the Case-based reasoning || Case study and Action research methodologies prevail. These methodologies have different Power of a method, where the case study is often broad and the action research focused. A core concept of VDC is the Spacetime. There are four dimensions, these three space dimensions and then a fourth: time. There are additional dimensions of cost and quality, but the core are these four. These four dimensions in design were first understood by Vitruvi as the importance of perspective and time. Prior to the use of computing, the focus was on the fourth dimension time. In practice, this is the Critical path method. With advances in computing, the representation of the three dimensions of space has increased. The merging of space and the above discussed ontology formed the Information model, in the construction engineering field, known as Building Information Modeling. The combination of space and time in practice is shown by the Linear scheduling method and in close relation the 4D model. Computing brought about the advent of the need to align with a software developer. Previously, pencil and paper was forgiving on the mixing of methods from different schools of thought. Software is not as forgiving and to mix software requires this as a goal. This forms the field of Interoperability research. The practical application is demonstrated by the Industry Foundation Classes. Today, the most compelling advances in VDC are in computer vision (List of computer vision topics), artificial intelligence, and the architecture of transmission (AoT), an object-oriented project lifecycle management process, which acts as a counterpoint to commissioned IoT technologies. An important application of VDC is in the workzone. This is where the construction activities reside, and the workforce is a core component. To create an educated workforce with the technical knowhow to use the technology tools now available, VDC includes the development of advanced Vocational education topics.
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