Formal Languages for Construction Process Modelling
Corresponding Author: Karhu, Vesa
Author(s): Karhu, V. 
Organisation(s): VTT Building Technology (Finland)
In construction process modelling research the construction activities have typically been described as activities, material and information flows between the activities, actors performing the activities etc. A number of such construction process (or activity) models have been defined using formalised modelling methods such as IDEF0 [Sanvido et al. 1990, Karhu et al. 1997]. The limited scope (based on national or company specific practises) of most of the published models and the border conditions imposed by the modelling methodology used, restricts the applicability of these models as generic reference models, and consequently their application into practice in contexts other than the one in which they were originally developed. On the other hand, the multi-disciplinary nature of construction projects, the increasing complexity of project organisation, as well as the technology push from concurrent engineering and information technology developments, call for new approaches for construction process planning and management. The challenge for the development of new approaches is to provide models and (computer) tools to support model-based construction process planning and management where the process components, their relationships and constraints can be modelled and validated as a virtual construction project before its realisation. It is a bit of a paradox that the industry today uses quite sophisticated IT-tools for the design and analysis of its products (CAD-systems, structural analysis) whereas the tools for analysis and planning of its fundamental working procedures are often on the level of flapboards and word processors.

Computer integrated construction (CIC) is vision shared by many researchers and practitioners for the development of the construction industry. This vision focuses, in addition to computer support for individual information management tasks, on using IT technologies for information exchange and sharing within construction projects (i.e. product modelling, Internet). Data modelling has, since the mid 1980s, been regarded as a main technology to achieve computer integrated construction (CIC). Research has been done for combining product data models with process models, for instance a product data model of a precast concrete facade [Karhu 1997]. Most research and standardisation efforts (i.e., STEP and IAI) have been directed towards the development of product data models, which should facilitate the exchange and sharing of information. A process centred view, which would study the information flow and other organisational attributes, has so far not received proper attention. Particularly recently, when many new communication and collaboration technologies have been developed, we miss a clear understanding of the construction process, in particular in terms of how IT is used and could be used to support the overall life-cycle process, from inception to demolition. Models, tools and case studies, are needed for the appraisal of costs and benefits of IT in construction.