Software that can show a video of a construction project assembling itself has been around for years, but an important change is afoot, say a wide range of industry leaders. Some of them say 4D technology—that is, 3D plus time—is finally poised to bend upward the long-stagnant construction productivity curve by significantly improving efficiency and reducing waste and risk.
Two flavors of construction sequence visualization are in use. One consists of construction schedule simulators, such as Autodesk Navisworks and Bentley Navigator, and custom services, such as Visual5D, that link an exported 3D project model to a schedule—imported from Oracle Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project, for example—and play the sequence as if it were a movie. Those tools are well suited for tender presentation, stakeholder outreach and initial construction planning.