Discovery Grant: 2018-2023
The construction sector is estimated to represent over $500 billion worth of future planned energy and infrastructure projects in Canada over the next 5 years. To take advantage of this opportunity, the construction sector in Canada—accounting for approximately 6% of the country’s gross domestic product—must remain competitive within the global market through improved productivity and performance. Decision-making processes have been identified as a key factor influencing productivity and profitability of companies across a variety of industrial sectors. While construction practitioners often use estimates and forecasts generated by decision-support systems to inform critical decision-making processes, these systems have difficulty dealing with the variability that arises when changes are unexpectedly introduced into construction systems. This reduces the ability of practitioners to make effective, informed decisions, which often results in sub-optimal project execution. Indeed, construction project outcomes rarely reflect planned project baselines—a phenomenon that is magnified for larger, mega-projects, where cost overruns and schedule delays are often the norm rather than the exception. Modernizing decision-support systems to enhance planning efficiency, therefore, represents a key area of improvement within the Canadian construction industry.
The proposed research aims to build upon the expertise of my research group and to utilize novel advancements in simulation science to improve the reliability of current decision-support systems. Specifically, we will focus on (1) understanding the sources and impact of variability on construction operations, (2) researching and developing novel simulation-based methods that are capable of accommodating and analyzing this variability, and (3) examining ways to improve the integration of these methods into a comprehensive, yet practical, decision-support system. These advances will enable the development of high-fidelity simulations that are rapidly recalibrated by as-built data in real-time and will provide practitioners with the novel and unique ability to be updated with accurate project information as required. This is expected to result in enhanced risk mitigation, planning efficiency, and, ultimately, in increased productivity. Such advancements, coupled with the training of
HQP, are expected to place our research and practitioners at the forefront of technological innovations in construction project delivery world-wide, offering a unique, competitive advantage to the Canadian construction sector at-large.