Digital Ecosystem for the integrated planning and implementation of infrastructure construction projects
Infra-Bau 4.0 Consortium Project
Infrastructure projects such as road and bridge construction are complex and expensive construction projects. The more complex the project, the more demanding it becomes to meet the agreed deadlines, quality targets, and cost objectives. The research project “Infra-Bau 4.0” addresses this problem. The goal is to develop a platform on which all partners involved in a construction project are mapped digitally with their various resources and processes and are networked within a single Digital Ecosystem. This will enable effective and efficient planning and re-planning of construction – even for complex projects in a volatile context. As the technical-scientific project lead, Fraunhofer IESE will focus particularly on ecosystem modeling and platform design. The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur – BMVI) is funding the project until the end of 2021 with more than four million euros.
The open and intelligent integration platform to be developed in the research project is intended to connect a wide variety of systems, facilitate consistent data exchange, and provide quick and substantiated decision-making aids for construction site problems, no matter at which point they arise. As a result, transparency for everyone involved in the construction process is improved, the underlying processes in infrastructure construction projects are optimized, and processes at the construction site are accelerated. As a construction site is constantly evolving, this is more demanding than the smart networking of machines and processes in production, where an individually configured product is manufactured from thousands of parts within a few days.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE is responsible for the technical-scientific management of the project. Therefore, Fraunhofer IESE will focus particularly on the modeling of the ecosystem and the design of the platform. In addition to the necessary elicitation of requirements, Fraunhofer IESE will mainly develop concepts for rapid partner onboarding, the integration of Digital Twins, and end-to-end data security.
BIM as momentum for digitalization
Prompted by the BMVI Stufenplan, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become an important driver for the German construction industry to digitalize construction. BIM is a method of networked collaboration that combines all relevant data into one model. It is frequently used in the planning phases, but to date, the possibilities offered by BIM are being used only partly in the context of construction implementation. A major challenge presently lies in the integration of subsystems into a central platform. This applies, for example, to the interconnection of the construction progress achieved by the construction machinery with the construction workflow planning, as-built surveys, or construction accounting. This data from different sources and models is still linked insufficiently in practice, preventing the full potential of the BIM method from being exploited.
Next step: A networked ecosystem
Just like continuous comparison of the planning with the actual situation, comprehensive linking of data offers great potential for infrastructure projects. To achieve this, however, it must be possible to network all players and processes. For this reason, the consortium partners will jointly develop an ecosystem based on an open integration platform. In Infra-Bau 4.0, planning data will be linked and supplemented by extensive “building process data” reflecting the current construction situation. Thus, the platform will illustrate a real-digital construction site and enable the construction progress to be recorded, analyzed, and optimized in a timely manner. Performance values, deadlines, logistics areas and costs, as well as the construction data model will always be up-to-date and enable reliable planning and flexible re-planning – even in the case of changes at short notice.
About the consortium
The consortium is comprised of 16 partners from industry and research. The consortium management is handled by Drees & Sommer, a construction and real estate firm based in Stuttgart. The technical and scientific management is handled by the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern. The Technical University of Kaiserslautern and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern will also assume leading roles in the project. The consortium project was initiated by the Science and Innovation Alliance Kaiserslautern e.V. (SIAK).