Title page for ETD etd-03272005-092430

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Al-Masalha, Sami
URN etd-03272005-092430
Title A Common Taxonomy for Modeling Construction operations
Degree PhD
Department Environmental Design and Planning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wakefield, Ronald R. Committee Chair
Beliveau, Yvan J. Committee Member
Mills, Thomas H. Committee Member
O'Brien, Michael J. Committee Member
Schubert, Robert P. Committee Member
  • Virtual Modeling.
  • Construction Taxonomy
  • Modeling of Construction Operations
  • Construction simulation
Date of Defense 2004-08-02
Availability unrestricted
A Common Taxonomy for Modeling Construction Operations


Sami Al-Masalha

Ron Wakefield, Chairman

Department of Building Construction

Environmental Design and Planning Ph.D. Program


The construction industry continues to strive for new ways to improve construction

operations. This requires better understanding and analysis of these operations, which

necessitates a way to systematically capture and analyze the diverse elements involved.

The dynamic nature of construction is very difficult to describe using existing computer

simulation and modeling systems. What is needed is rather a common construction

language and a comprehensive modeling system that can be used to capture and analyze

construction operations and potentially lead to improvements.

A new taxonomy and its use for modeling construction operations are developed here.

This taxonomy identifies a hierarchical representation of construction projects based on

operational considerations. The hierarchy consists of seven levels: product, assemblies

and subassemblies, components, operations, processes, physics, and control. The

hierarchical levels were established by looking in the ways that construction field


operations are being carried out. The new modeling system successfully accounts for the

geometric and physical representations of not only the product but also the processes

involved in shaping the product. Six major blocks of construction knowledge are

described and information about the interaction processes required to model construction

operations in a logical way is provided.

An overview of the current state of modeling and simulation techniques that are used to

develop and evaluate construction operations is presented. The advantages and

limitations of physical-based modeling, 4D-CAD, and virtual modeling techniques as an

integral part of the developed taxonomy are identified. The potential uses of robotics and

automation opportunities in construction are described. Also, distribution of work

between humans and tools and equipment based on their physical and information

contributions are reviewed and analyzed. Classifications of construction work at different

levels of detail are described to identify which operations can be usefully modeled and

the appropriate level of the model.

Two practical case studies are discussed that show the capabilities and potential uses of

the developed taxonomy. The first case study describes the modeling process of the

fabrication, assembly, and erection of steel structures. The second exploratory case study

shows the potential use of the developed modeling in improving the heat recovery system

generator’s (HRSG) erection process. Also, prototype models and 3D models of the

HRSG assemblies are developed. Both case studies validate with great confidence the use

of the developed taxonomy as a direct support tool that captures the diverse elements and

enhances the modeling and analysis to improve construction operations.

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