Advanced production management principles, like those of lean construction, have tremendous potential to improve the construction of projects. Ideas of lean construction have been proposed for more than ten years. These have had success, but they have hardly revolutionized the industry like lean production has impacted the manufacturing industry. One significant challenge facing proponents of advance production management in construction is the ability to articulate lean construction principles in a meaningful way to new users. Advanced visualization technologies like 3D and 4D Computer Aided Design (CAD), can help managers and foremen visualize the impact and usefulness of these principles. This paper describes an experiment performed with a graduate class to assess the use of 4D CAD for visualizing the various elements of production flow. Students were asked to assess a Critical Path Method (CPM) schedule for production flow characteristics. They were then asked to review the same sequence of work in a 4D CAD model. A large proportion of the class did not identify the flow issues in the CPM schedule, but most of them identified critical flow issues in the 4D CAD model. It was concluded that this visualization technology helped the students identify, explain and develop a deeper understanding of advanced production management principles.
Production flow, lean construction, 4D CAD modeling, visualization