Skanska’s £1m ‘digital tag and track’ project to be operational by 2017

A £1m Skanska-led project to implement real-time ‘tagging and tracking’ of building components from the factory floor to the finished building aims to create a workable system by the end of the research period in 2017.

The two-year research project, which secured a £500,000 Innovate UK grant in April, will investigate methods of tagging components by capturing data from multiple supply-chain partners.

Ian Brixey, principal consultant at Skanska, told BIM+: “Tag and track does exactly what it says on the tin. It will allow through life real-time tracking from the supply chain to the construction stage and then onto the operations and maintenance stage.

“By using the latest digital techniques, we intend to get to a stage where the ‘marking’ of project components, in the form of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags/barcodes, facilitates real-time monitoring of the manufacturing process, delivery to site, storage and installation.

“Once in place, the tagged components will remain for the life-cycle of the project, providing accurate information to those that need it. This level of information allows progress on projects to be monitored against plans and timescales.”

A traffic light system will be used to identify whether components are, or are not, at the correct stage of production or delivery as dictated by a schemes schedule. This means that any potential delays can be flagged earlier in the process.

By tracking all the components in the system chain Brixey believes that great savings can be made for both project timescales and quality control. “This bites into the government’s 2025 targets significantly. It will reduce delays and defects by giving contractors more control over the management of quality control,” he said.

The programme will be designed to be integrated with BIM. Component quantities can be drawn down from a model at the start of the procurement process with information pushed back when needed so that it can be used for FM.

“It’s like a jigsaw, the system can be used with BIM or used without,” added Brixey.

After carrying out work to develop the system Skanska aims to have a pilot scheme in operation in the summer of 2016, although a project has not yet been identified for the pilot. 

Skanska will work alongside its partners BRE, which will be designing the internet portal for the system, and wireless communications consultant Multiple Access Communications and doorset manufacturer Leaderflush Shapland to develop the research.

By using the latest digital techniques, we intend to get to a stage where the ‘marking’ of project components, in the form of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags/barcodes, facilitates real-time monitoring of the manufacturing process, delivery to site, storage and installation.– Ian Brixey, principal consultant, Skanska

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  1. Great news, I feel it will help the whole integration of DFMA into construction.

  2. £1m to develop a system to track RFID tags, technology which has been around for 15 years and will be obsolete by the time this project is complete. Only in construction!

  3. Back in 2004/5 when I was at Construction Products Association we carried out a project on RFID tags with BRE and several manufacturers, so much of the knowledge has been there for ten years or more. The issue is using it in processes. The same with robots. Pre 2000 I carried out a project for the DTI, as was, on masonry building robots. We saw several working in factories in southern Germany. Lissmac I think were the manufacturer of one of them.

  4. The BRE to design the internet portal system? Really…

  5. No comment on BRE and internet portals but this link gives an example from March 2006 of CEMEX using RFID tagging in its business. That followed from the BRE/CPA Tag ‘n Track project.

  6. I agree with Nick on this, a poor article. Talking about traffic lights and jigsaws is meaningless and only confuses the main issue here.

  7. Why does Construction always seek to undermine adoption of innovation ? ( new or old) RFID has been around for over a decade, and is proven as a technology and functional approach, so has elements of BIM technology ! But adoption has been reprehensibly slow into process by the sector. BIM is progressing due to mandation and investment in standards and practice processes. By coupling RFID to BIM it stands to drive adoption, embed in process and harvest the savings it can bring. Anyone explain to me why construction won’t embrace the digital revolution ? everyone else is and has…

  8. Some people are just afraid of innovation, like the person above. It’s about time construction evolved and didn’t revolve. Some so called professors like to drag construction through the gutter.

  9. Hi Tony,

    I fear you mis-read both my message and intent.

    With over 20 years experience in the Industry and ancillary Best Practice activity you could not be further from the truth.

    My comments are observational and do not do justice to the lead innovators in our sector – who do excellent things, it cannot be denied that sadly they are in the minority.

    My message was much like yours – “why as a sector, do we default to finding reasons not to do things that do not involve pouring concrete and fitting windows ? and are not as embracing as other sectors ?”

    The realm of Truth is not always the gutter – depending on your perception.

    We cannot pretend that the sector as a whole is adoptive or innovative in a timely unforced manner – Competitive advantage lives with those who adopt, adapt and innovate.

    I would never dream to question your credentials, and think you are taking cheap shots for effect in your comments. I wish you well with your approach to life and business.

  10. None of this will work in reality, it’s all pie in the sky stuff. I am a bread and butter builder, it annoys me that all these people think they know better, including chemistry professors. BIM is a waste of time!

  11. Shame it comes too late for Skanska’s partner Leaderflush Shapland, the market leader to gain the commercial advantage, who unfortunately entered Administration just before Christmas.

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