A 4D automatic simulation tool for construction resource planning: A case study

Li, Heng, Chan, Greg, Skitmore, Martin, & Huang, Ting (2015) A 4D automatic simulation tool for construction resource planning: A case study. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 22(5), pp. 536-550.

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Traditional construction planning relies upon the critical path method (CPM) and bar charts. Both of these methods suffer from visualization and timing issues that could be addressed by 4D technology specifically geared to meet the needs of the construction industry. This paper proposed a new construction planning approach based on simulation by using a game engine.


A 4D automatic simulation tool was developed and a case study was carried out. The proposed tool was used to simulate and optimize the plans for the installation of a temporary platform for piling in a civil construction project in Hong Kong. The tool simulated the result of the construction process with three variables: 1) equipment, 2) site layout and 3) schedule. Through this, the construction team was able to repeatedly simulate a range of options.


The results indicate that the proposed approach can provide a user-friendly 4D simulation platform for the construction industry. The simulation can also identify the solution being sought by the construction team. The paper also identifies directions for further development of the 4D technology as an aid in construction planning and decision-making.

Research limitations/implications

The tests on the tool are limited to a single case study and further research is needed to test the use of game engines for construction planning in different construction projects to verify its effectiveness. Future research could also explore the use of alternative game engines and compare their performance and results.


The authors proposed the use of game engine to simulate the construction process based on resources, working space and construction schedule. The developed tool can be used by end-users without simulation experience.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 87227
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Critical path method, Construction planning, 4D technology, Game engine, Simulation tool
DOI: 10.1108/ECAM-07-2014-0093?af=R
ISSN: 1365-232X
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright Statement: This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to
appear here (http://eprints.qut.edu.au). Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further
copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group
Publishing Limited.
Deposited On: 03 Sep 2015 01:41
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2015 03:35

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