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Departments in leading universities researching construction planning and computer visualisation have joined forces to revolutionise the industry through the creation of a virtual construction site, in theory allowing management of the site to be thoroughly rehearsed before construction begins.

This would allow sites to be more effectively planned and managed during construction, reducing double handling of materials and maximising the efficiency of plant usage.

UMIST, UCL, Wolverhampton and Teesside universities are collaborating on the Virtual Construction Site (VIRCON) project, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and led by contractor Carillion. Their aim is to develop software that will allow progress on site to be visualised on a desktop pc as part of the project planning process.

By linking space planning of sites to the time required for each task, the research team believes that conventional critical path analysis can be supplemented by critical space analysis.

The team has reviewed a range of techniques needed to build the software, such as space scheduling and clash detection, and has begun devising the prototype.

Detailed information in the form of CAD files, site photographs, and progress reports for the recently completed School of Health at Teesside University is being used as the input data to the VIRCON model.

The software team will then simulate the site operations and compare the results with actual recorded progress.

The working prototype is expected to take up to six months to develop.

INFOPLUS eclipse@purplenet. co. uk

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