The aim of the EU-funded ACCEPT project is to improve knowledge transfer, project coordination, and quality assurance in the construction process. At Digital Construction Week this October, it will present its developments and offer delegates the chance to get hands-on
What is the performance gap? For many in the construction industry, it is the well-documented variation between the design and as-built energy performance of buildings.
This is a wide-ranging and complex issue, concerning the way that buildings are designed, modelled, built, commissioned and occupied, with most of the focus of research and innovation concentrated on the design and occupation ends of the scale.
The ACCEPT project, an EU-funded initiative takes a different tack. With the help of smart glasses, tablets and sensors, it seeks to focus on what can be done during the construction and commissioning phases of a project.
A number of issues have already been identified: • Poor product substitution, without consideration of energy performance;
• Poor installation of fabric;
• Poor installation or commissioning of services;
• Lack of energy performance knowledge/skills among site teams;
• Lack of adequate energy performance- related QA on site.
Knowledge is power
On a modern construction site, trades are usually segregated and highly specialised, knowing only what they think they need to know to do their job. But do they need to know more? Does, for example, an electrician need to know where the ventilation duct runs are going to be installed?
Often, when presented with a blank space, the first trade will fill it with their trade (wires, ventilation and so on) in the easiest fit for them – but what happens when the second trade comes along and duct runs have to be altered to account for space left after the wiring?
This simple change could have an impact on energy use, through inefficient layouts. And it will likely have a lasting impact on the efficiency of the ventilation and heating systems, too. What is worse is that, if this occurs, mistakes may be covered up.
The solution to this challenge is an increase in the knowledge available to workers. This isn’t about teaching construction workers to suck proverbial eggs, but rather to enable them to access relevant information, at the right time and in the right place.
ACCEPT provides a couple of mechanisms to support this transference of knowledge. Using ACCEPT with BIM Explorer, powered by Google on the consumer- focused Google Tango device, the BIM model can be accessed in the real world, overlaid 1:1 with reality.
This means that construction workers get the benefit of the fully clash-detected and federated model on site, where they need it. Also, because it is a live system, the model will always be up-to-date. That means no more out-of-date prints on site. The electrician can always see where the wires are intended to go, without any guesswork.
But ACCEPT is designed to do more than just bring 3D models to the construction site. It also links project information inherently into BIM objects. This means that location data, drawings, installation instructions and much more can be accessed by the worker in situ.
The use of smart glasses through the ACCEPT Construction Operative App (CoOpApp), meanwhile, means that this information can not only be accessed on site but also hands-free, while the operative is actively completing their task.
Left hand, right hand
ACCEPT has conducted research into the ways in which construction sites are managed, as well as attitudes towards site management. Generally, it was found that site management is highly competent, but that processes are managed in people’s heads, rather than through computer programmes or even paper-based systems.
On smaller sites, this may work OK. But with a large and increasing number of variables on the modern construction site, it potentially leads to a number of issues, including poor succession planning, human error and inappropriate resourcing.
ACCEPT is looking to digitalise site management workstreams. It does this through the Site Managers App (SiMaApp), which has been developed to be used on mobile platforms including tablets and smartphones. The SiMaApp allows site managers to generate scheduling data from the BIM model, integrating the construction process with the design.
According to its developers, this has several advantages, as the SiMaApp allows distribution of tasks through the ACCEPT system, meaning that construction workers using the BIM explorer or CoOpApp can actively feed data into the system.
By logging tasks as completed, the SiMaApp is updated, meaning that successive tasks are automatically opened and key performance indicators (KPIs) for tasks, including productivity, can be accurately assessed.
The ACCEPT system can also bring in data from connected sensors to automatically augment workflows; for example, a concrete curing algorithm being developed for ACCEPT has the potential to allow work to progress earlier than might currently happen, improving the efficiency of the worksite.
Right first time
Short-term fixes, botches, a lack of designer input at site stage and a lack of clear responsibility on the construction site are all factors that may contribute to buildings not being constructed to the standards expected.
To ensure that this situation is avoided, ACCEPT introduces a Quality Assurance protocol. This ensures that issues that might otherwise get hidden stay visible. Through integration into the workflow process, QA Checklists – including project or client-specific checklists or legal/statutory checklists – are incorporated as critical components and at key points in the construction process, so that elements are completed to the required standards.
In addition, tickbox cultures are tackled by requiring the use of photographic or point cloud scans as a permanent, lasting record of the build. And the ACCEPT Dashboard allows all stakeholders in a project, including designers and the client, to keep track of progress. This dashboard includes the QA Checklists, boosting confidence that the building will be completed as designed.
The ACCEPT project is a research and innovation initiative funded by the EU’S Horizon 2020 programme, comprising 11 organisations. It has been evaluated with the assistance of various stakeholders in the construction industry across four European countries.
ACCEPT will be at Digital Construction week (London, 18 – 19 October). There will be interactive demonstrations of how these ideas and technologies are working out in the real world.
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