Location, location, location. 

We hear this all the time relating to real estate value, marketing and sales. And over the past year or so we are hearing it more frequently relating to improvement of real estate, otherwise known as construction scheduling.

The confluence of CPM (and other forms of scheduling) with BIM (and other forms of CADD and CAD) continues apace bringing additional benefits to the users of these tools.

Way back in the 1970s and 80s, as I began my career in CPM and project controls, I used up to four sets of location codes in my CPMs. First was a simple code to locate the activity on the hand drafted pure logic diagrams which were then required by most specifications (and occasionally still specified but rarely enforced) composed of page number (from 30” x 24” prints), then “line” vertically on that page, then horizontal offset across the page of the pure logic diagram.

The failure of software developers to create an easy method to mimic this (including the ability to notate “jumping” from activity to activity rather than use of increasingly difficult to read lines) has probably been the cause of dropping the requirement of submittal of a pure logic diagram, and resultant reliance on the older (1910s) and less informative bar-chart graphic output.

The second set of location codes is to list at least one design document drawing (plan view and often also a section view or spec section) best illustrating the scope of work encompassed by the activity description.

Even today, I record this data as I assist a project team, reviewing the contract documents, to prepare a CPM. It helps to determine if we have covered all project scope. It helps to explain (in more than 48 characters) the scope of the schedule activity (especially if we change project team members midway through a project). It helps explain the scope of the schedule activity to the foreperson who is to perform the work.

The third set of location codes designates the physical location on the project site. This may be horizontal (perhaps even station numbering for a road) or vertical (floor, quadrant, perhaps even room number for a building) or some combination.

As has been discussed in previous blog posts, this must be done with some finesse; we do not wish to degrade the CPM with blind adherence to a coding regime. Should one activity (“set of instructions to a foreperson”) span two or more code designations, we do not wish to mandate breaking up the instruction simply to comply with the code breakdown.

For example, when pulling wire from one location to another, we use one activity and not one for each locale through which the wire is pulled.

The fourth set of location codes is typically used where the designer may or not have properly coordinated sections of the design documents, and may include (for example) competing mandated sequence step numbers from traffic control and erosion & sedimentation drawings. A primary purpose of the CPM exercise is just to address these issues of coordination. But can location-based data further assist the design, procurement and construction of project fulfillment?

The emergence of CADD, CAD and BIM has literally added other dimensions to joining CPM activities and location codes.

Conversion of drafted line to virtual 3D objects which then may be linked to CPM activities and tasks supports 4D graphical display of the erection sequence. Software vendor Synchro (http://synchroltd.com/) states in its tutorial that “providing this 4D build sequence brings many benefits, for example: general plan inconsistencies, health and safety issues, site logistics and resource (space) availability and workflow effectively come to life, and are very much more interpretable.”

Can that pipe spool be transported into the building as it stands constructed at this point in time? 

Trimble’s VICO (http://www.vicosoftware.com/) software allows planning a specified and hopefully optimal sequence of erection or installation (involving several activities of several crafts or subcontractors) for one location to then be guided through an entire site or project alternatively judging the effectiveness of floor-to-floor or skipping floors, clockwise or counterclockwise movement between quadrants of a floor or otherwise choreographing craft and other resources.

VICO also utilizes a process to suggest slowing or speeding (reducing or enhancing resources of) crafts to reduce or eliminate temporary layoffs, furthering the comparison to a choreographed production.  

Oracle Primavera (www.oracle.com/primavera) takes location in yet another direction – to the Enterprise. 

Starting With P6 R8 and utilizing Oracle database 11g there is the ability to geo-locate projects, resources and activities for visualization needs. A consultant or contractor tasked with visiting each bridge in Pennsylvania requiring evaluation and possibly remediation may interact with the information spatially when planning out how to best route labor, materials or equipment to and from the job site such as to work out the best route for transporting a large crane or rig from site to site.

Perhaps a report is desired for productivity by crafts on our projects nationwide at ground level and at 30 feet or 60 feet off the ground. Can we tailor our OSHA training and insurance coverage based upon trends at varying locations? 

Notice of this emerging technology is being watched by many sectors. The implication of location-based scheduling was even a topic at the ABA Forum for Construction meeting this past month.

What are the contract implications if one subcontractor is asked to speed up or slow down to improve the efficiency of another? What are the litigation implications if an accident by one subcontractor impacts the flow and productivity of other subcontractors?

Location can encompass more than real estate and construction. Location may be denoted within the design or erection of an airliner or even a computer chip. As 3D printing becomes more sophisticated, I suspect such will be combined with robotics to drop discrete objects within the “printed” item.

Location may be a section of computer code relating to a specific module or task or app.

How is our progress on the GUI module compared with other endeavors of our enterprise? Location may be a level within an organization structure or OBS.

As stated above, the real trick will be to have our location coding and analysis add value to our base scheduling application and not to throw out validity of the base calculation as we repackage the output.