4D BIM is the next generation project management, including project planning and scheduling, data analytics and management. 4D is here to stay and growing quickly. Henry Gantt put the “To Do” list on the calendar and added duration to his chart. CPM added dependencies, creating the power of the network diagram. 4D literally adds vision, for those who want or need to understand project planning and scheduling data. The ability to visualize your project and analyze the dynamic spatial data on your computer, before you break ground, creates a practice field for the delivery team that is highly engaging and efficient, where team members share the same vision. In an industry where processes haven’t changed for decades, this is revolutionary and, long overdue!
Gantt charts date back to 1911 or earlier, CPM dates back to WWII when the Manhattan Project perfected Henry Gantt’s work by adding logical dependencies. By the mid 1950’s, we started seeing broader use of CPM by industry and we saw its’ introduction to construction by the early 1960s. Since then, no major innovations have occurred and construction productivity has continued to steadily decline, until NOW. Today, there is agreement that 4D BIM is the new standard and it is bringing measurable improvement to the industry. According to a McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report released in 2012, 74 percent of North American construction firms in the $4 trillion global building industry have adopted BIM in some capacity, supporting the premise that BIM is here to stay. Consider the difference between reviewing stacks of 2D drawings and design plans and separately stacks of 2D Gantt charts or even the more detailed network diagram and discussing between the two with the delivery team; with 4D BIM, teams are sitting together to review a real time simulation of the project- everyone shares the same vision quickly and efficiently, ideas are discussed and knowledge and experience is shared. Changes can be made instantly, different approaches can be tested for impacts and clashes can be discovered early in the process. 4D visualization is transforming the entire delivery process. But software alone doesn’t transform an organization, people and processes must be at the center of this effort. Commercial construction is complex and rarely a repeatable process, there is no black box technology tool that can simplify and manage the improvement process. Smart people with innovative tools improve the construction process. In construction, Planners and Schedulers are at the center of the process, they are a key success factor of the delivery team and should play a key role in technology decision making.