A dynamic scheduling model for construction enterprises
2014-10-17T08:46:19Z (GMT) by
The vast majority of researches in the scheduling context focused on finding optimal or near-optimal predictive schedules under different scheduling problem characteristics. In the construction industry, predictive schedules are often produced in advance in order to direct construction operations and to support other planning activities. However, construction projects operate in dynamic environments subject to various real-time events, which usually disrupt the predictive optimal schedules, leading to schedules neither feasible nor optimal. Accordingly, the development of a dynamic scheduling model which can accommodate these real-time events would be of great importance for the successful implementation of construction scheduling systems. This research sought to develop a dynamic scheduling based solution which can be practically used for real time analysis and scheduling of construction projects, in addition to resources optimization for construction enterprises. The literature reviews for scheduling, dynamic scheduling, and optimization showed that despite the numerous researches presented and application performed in the dynamic scheduling field within manufacturing and other industries, there was dearth in dynamic scheduling literature in relation to the construction industry. The research followed two main interacting research paths, a path related to the development of the practical solution, and another path related to the core model development. The aim of the first path (or the proposed practical solution path) was to develop a computer-based dynamic scheduling framework which can be used in practical applications within the construction industry. Following the scheduling literature review, the construction project management community s opinions about the problem under study and the user requirements for the proposed solution were collected from 364 construction project management practitioners from 52 countries via a questionnaire survey and were used to form the basis for the functional specifications of a dynamic scheduling framework. The framework was in the form of a software tool fully integrated with current planning/scheduling practices with all core modelling which can support the integration of the dynamic scheduling processes to the current planning/scheduling process with minimal experience requirement from users about optimization. The second research path, or the dynamic scheduling core model development path, started with the development of a mathematical model based on the scheduling models in literature, with several extensions according to the practical considerations related to the construction industry, as investigated in the questionnaire survey. Scheduling problems are complex from operational research perspective; so, for the proposed solution to be functional in optimizing construction schedules, an optimization algorithm was developed to suit the problem's characteristics and to be used as part of the dynamic scheduling model's core. The developed algorithm contained few contributions to the scheduling context (such as schedule justification heuristics, and rectification to schedule generation schemes), as well as suggested modifications to the formulation and process of the adopted optimization technique (particle swarm optimization) leading to considerable improvement to this techniques outputs with respect to schedules quality. After the completion of the model development path, the first research path was concluded by combining the gathered solution's functional specifications and the developed dynamic scheduling model into a software tool, which was developed to verify & validate the proposed model s functionalities and the overall solution s practicality and scalability. The verification process started with an extensive testing of the model s static functionality using several well recognized scheduling problem sets available in literature, and the results showed that the developed algorithm can be ranked as one of the best state-of-the-art algorithms for solving resource-constrained project scheduling problems. To verify the software tool and the dynamic features of the developed model (or the formulation of data transfers from one optimization stage to the next), a case study was implemented on a construction entity in the Arabian Gulf area, having a mega project under construction, with all aspects to resemble an enterprise structure. The case study results showed that the proposed solution reasonably performed under large scale practical application (where all optimization targets were met in reasonable time) for all designed schedule preparation processes (baseline, progress updates, look-ahead schedules, and what-if schedules). Finally, to confirm and validate the effectiveness and practicality of the proposed solution, the solution's framework and the verification results were presented to field experts, and their opinions were collected through validation forms. The feedbacks received were very positive, where field experts/practitioners confirmed that the proposed solution achieved the main functionalities as designed in the solution s framework, and performed efficiently under the complexity of the applied case study.