RT-152 Topic Summary
RT 152


This research topic, 3D CAD in FIAPP (three-dimensional computer-assisted design in a fully integrated and automated project process), was commissioned to address the subject of integration of 3D CAD outputs into the construction phase. This was accomplished by exploring four primary objectives in the topic’s scope:

  • Determine the leading edge or state-of-the-art in the integrated 3D CAD work in the heavy industrial construction arena
  • Survey 3D CAD and other systems relating to construction and develop lists of inputs and outputs from these systems
  • Develop case study based recommendations for utilizing 3D CAD outputs in the construction phase
  • Produce a report with all of the best ideas integrated into a set of recommended practices for 3D CAD as part of a fully automated and integrated project process 
The report concluded that the evidence showed how the 3D model and associated databases should be used to create a FIAPP. Further, this setup should become easier to achieve over time as the technology improves. Given the current situation, a detailed set of recommendations was provided for each of the following project activities or phases to facilitate FIAPP:
  • Pre-Project Planning
  • Design
  • Procurement and Materials Management
  • Construction
  • Startup

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Integration Sophistication

Focusing on industrial, process, and power, the report found that there is much variability in the capabilities and willingness of construction companies to integrate 3D CAD with other systems. This can be affected by owner requirements, in-house engineering capabilities, engineering firm alliances, or other contractual bid positions and/or terms.

It was found that sophistication evolves as project team members use this technology on more and more projects. However, if adoption is viewed as a track or trend, it would look something like the figure presented here:

Generally, when an organization begins using a three-dimensional computer model and associated databases on the construction site, its use will be limited. As the project teams gain experience, the usage increases and the process becomes more efficient and integrated. It will become apparent as the industries use three-dimensional computer models, which projects benefit most from this integration and automation technology.
(RR152-11, p. 3-1)
Reference: (RR152-11)

2 : State of the Practice

This research looked at the more mature end of the sophistication scale with the thought that today’s leading edge will be tomorrow’s standard. It was observed that the 3D model could be used as early as the pre-project planning phase through startup. Activities ranged from simple reviews that afforded enhanced visualization to complex 4D scheduling tasks and lifting simulations. Also, scope definitions become better with attribute data and faster and more reliable material take-off information.

Ultimately, it was conceded that few, if any, construction organizations were using most of the concepts presented as current “state of the practice,” but many had adopted components. The trend and prediction was for increasing adoption of these tools and integrations.

Refer to “On the Horizon” epilogue on page 3-25 of Research Report (RR152-11) for a detailed list of needed functions that were as of yet part of the “state of the practice.”
(RR152-11, p. 3-6)
Reference: (RR152-11)

3 : Recommendations

The bulk of the findings in the research are represented as best ideas and recommendations for future projects. These recommendations will give the best opportunity for success in leveraging 3D models and their associated databases. A sampling of these recommendations include: 

  • Development of a 3D CAD model should be initiated early in the pre-project planning phase.
  • Integration should begin as soon as data are generated.
  • Use the 3D CAD model for visualization at internal and external meetings.
  • Use the 3D CAD model for process and facility planning.
  • Prepare the 3D CAD model for preliminary work package planning to allow for “what-if” analysis, e.g., link design components for schedule activities.
  • Model underground and civil work early in the process to include all utilities and hook-ups.
  • Tag early design components with certification and testing requirements.
  • Consider 4D CAD when establishing the master project schedule.
  • Considerable thought should be given to the organization of the model as to be beneficial for use in the management of construction.
  • Involve the construction team with model development during the design phase. Add construction technology to the design process.
  • Pursue partnerships with suppliers and fabricators to transfer data electronically.
(RS152-1, p. 17)
Reference: (RS152-1)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost (cost growth reduction), Improved schedule (schedule growth reduction), Improved quality (rework reduction)

Research Publications

3D CAD and FIAPP: Three-Dimensional Computer Models and the Fully Integrated and Automated Project P - RS152-1

Publication Date: 03/2001 Type: Research Summary Pages: 20 Status: Supporting Product

Three-Dimensional Computer Models and the Fully Integrated and Automated Project Process for the Man - RR152-11

Publication Date: 03/2000 Type: Research Report Pages: 205 Status: Reference

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Fully Integrated and Automated Project Processes- The Vision

Publication Date: 07/2001 Presenter: Reg Gagliardo Number of Slides: 18 Event Code: AC01