Simulation Analysis, Monitoring, and Control of Operations

Joseph Louis, Purdue University


Construction operations are usually spread across large areas and require the remote collaboration between multiple disparate resources, characteristics that create logistical challenges for obtaining a real-time operational overview of the status on the worksite. This lack of real-time overview or operation monitoring precludes the possibility of real-time control of operations, a factor that further impedes the adoption of automation techniques on the construction worksite.^ This dissertation provides a means for implementing closed-loop control of construction operations through a synergistic combination between real-time data captured from construction equipment and an operation model created by using the modeling concepts developed for discrete event simulation of construction. Specifically, this research provides methods to process discrete event simulation models without a-priori knowledge of duration data and a-priori knowledge of material amounts. Strategies are also prescribed for handling the occurrence of unforeseen events and for synthesizing sensor data to provide the entity state information to the operation model.^ This research implements the developed methods in a standalone computer application and a virtual construction site is leveraged to demonstrate first the utility of real-time monitoring and then automated control for an earthmoving operation. Another case study that further showcases the analytical capabilities that enable real-time operational decision-making is also provided in this dissertation. The case study specifically demonstrates the various types of operational insights and metrics that can be synthesized from various locations of the worksite and aspects of the operation in real-time to aid in monitoring, control, and decision-making for the operation. Currently and without the use of the provided methodology, such information would be impractical, cost-prohibitive, and even impossible to obtain.^ This research provides a practical implementation of systems and control theoretic concepts by leveraging the advancements made in modeling and simulation tools and seeks to leverage the growing ubiquity of sensors on the construction site. Apart from enabling a means for the real-time monitoring and control of worksites, the methodologies provided herein enable automation in construction to be achieved at the operations level and address the issue of “islands of automation” that has been experienced in prior automation attempts. This research thus lays the groundwork for fully automated construction worksites. The developed research also facilitates the documentation of the operation as it is performed in the form of a timestamped log of events. This documentation can be analyzed after the operation for purposes of performance assessment and future planning. Unlike current methods of time-studies for operation analysis, wherein only a subset of the operation is recorded, the documentation capabilities provided by this research provides the complete record of the operation as it was performed.^




Phillip S. Dunston, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Civil engineering

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