Smart construction leads and follows smart design.

Smart construction is the second research program that we have in our Construction 4.0 project (the first being smart design and the third being smart monitoring, which we will highlight next week).

This program will investigate the intrinsic properties and invariant signatures of construction objects, such as footings, slabs, beams etc, as well as their synergistic structural performance, to create a new end-to-end computational platform for design and manufacture. This opens the door to full automation of prefabrication and modularisation, which will significantly improve building performance, environmental profile and productivity in the sector.

The smart construction program leader is Dr Alice Chang-Richards, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland.

Project Lead: University of Auckland Senior Lecturer and Leading Specialist in Construction Technology, Dr. Alice Change-Richards.

Alice is a leading specialist in construction technology, systems analysis and computational modelling for decision. She is supported by Dr Yang Zou, construction informatics and digitisation expert, and Dr. Yuqian Lu, expert in construction process automation.

The platform we develop in this program will be able to analyse planning for building product/system manufacturing and construction projects. It will create optimised solutions for constructability of buildings taking the near real-time capacity and capability in a value chain process. Building product manufacturers, suppliers, builders, contractors and subcontractors will be able to better plan for new projects and prioritise resources. Change will likely be seen in business models in the construction sector and improved efficiency in adoption of new technologies.


File to factory: development of smart construction

We will investigate the intrinsic properties of ‘file to factory’ workflows and computational requirements, as well as the performance of data interoperability working compositely, to create an end-to-end computational platform for construct buildings. Such a platform will open the door to full automation of prefabrication or modular buildings which will significantly improve building performance and productivity in the construction sector. The research questions to be addressed are:

  • How design procedures and processes identified in RP1 (Circular Design) affect the constructability of prefabricated buildings while maintaining design constraints?
  • What are the factors that affect the manufacturability of design for buildings?
  • What mechanisms can be introduced in a conceptual computational platform and later an operational system in a Construction 4.0 plant to address these factors?


File to factory: capability identification

Development of a clear understanding of the design for manufacturing capability constraints from a wide range of architecture, engineering, construction and building product manufacturing companies in Aotearoa New Zealand. We will do this through an extensive systematic review on international literature and working with our industry collaborators.


Signatures assessed and interoperability tested

Testing undertaken on the characterised building product and projects signatures to support interoperability of data from various architecture, engineering and construction objects in structural analysis scenarios. Design data (Computer-Aided design (CAD) or Building Information Models (BIM)) provided by industry collaborators will be used to support the exploration of the invariant signatures and testing of these signatures.


Process optimisation

Identification of the common pinch points of workflows from design to production and to assembly of prefabricated buildings and developing prototypes of optimised workflows by modelling and simulation of plant-wide operations. We will do this by case studying selected prefabricator businesses.


Framework and guidelines

The primary outcome of this program is the development of a conceptual computational framework and user guidelines for implementing Construction 4.0: system design including appropriate algorithms, data structures and programming paradigms by running a series of focus groups with the industry collaborators.

Project team
Project Lead: University of Auckland Senior Lecturer and Leading Specialist in Construction Technology, Dr. Alice Change-Richards.
Construction Informatics and Digitisation Expert.
Construction Process Automation Expert.