Project

“BIM Square”: Blockchain and i-Core-enabled Multi-stakeholder Building Information Modelling Platform for Construction Logistics and Supply Chain Management in Hong Kong

Goal: To develop a BIM² platform by integrating blockchain, BIM, and IoT for construction logistics and supply chain management

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Project log

Fan Xue
added 6 research items
This research aims to develop a multi-criteria decision matrix (MCDM) for project management (PM) professionals, which will support blockchain type selection, evaluate blockchain platforms, and plan blockchain systems. The MCDM is substantiated through a case study that includes a questionnaire and an illustrative example pertinent to the construction industry. It is discovered that in this study, consortium blockchain is superior in dealing with the characteristics of projects, and Hyperledger Fabric is chosen as the best applicable platform. In planning a blockchain-based PM system, PM professionals should consider user requirements such as network participants, principal transactions, communication channels, and smart contracts.
Nowadays, building information modeling (BIM) plays a crucial role in project collaboration. BIM information should be freely exchanged among different stakeholders for the purpose of collaboration. With the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), there are many novel data exchange methods for BIM information exchange. However, little literature has attempted to review the current status of BIM data exchange methods. This study aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the status quo of BIM data exchange methods, including file-based method, cloud-based method, and three local data exchange methods. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are identified. This paper reveals that more efforts should be paid for enhancing the capability to deal with large Industry Foundation Class (IFC) files; a more stable, consistent identifier that can uniquely and easily identify an object should be developed; more opportunity in integrating BIM with some emerging technologies, like blockchain, should be seized to solve the problems in BIM data exchange. This study presents an in-depth analysis of the current BIM data exchange method and helps the industry and academia to identify the existing gaps and future directions.
A smart contract is a protocol that can self-execute when predefined conditions are met. This new technology is considered destructive and can transfer the construction industry. In Blockchain 2.0, the combined use of blockchain and smart contracts allows users to express business logic to achieve more advanced transactions. This research aims to critically analyze the challenges, progresses, and benefits of smart contracts in construction through a systematic literature review to address whether it is smart. The findings suggested that numerous progress had been made to address the challenges of smart contracts. Besides, the benefits of smart contracts have attracted the construction industry. The research findings can open the avenue for researchers and construction practitioners to understand the impacts of the salient features of smart contracts and determine appropriate application areas.
Xiao Li
added a research item
Configuring a trustworthy Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled building information modeling (BIM) platform (IBP) is significant for modular construction to ensure transparency, traceability, and immutability throughout its fragmented supply chain management. However, most current IBPs are designed adopting a centralized system architecture, which fails to achieve a decentralized and effective one to ensure a single point of truth in BIM and prevent a single point of failure in IoT networks. To address this challenge, this study introduces permissioned blockchain with IBP and proposes a novel service-oriented system architecture of blockchain-enabled IoT-BIM platform (BIBP) for the data-information-knowledge (DIK)-driven supply chain management in modular construction. First, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is designed with hardware, core technologies, and protocols to offer accurate data from daily practice to blockchain BIM. Blockchain BIM as a service (BaaS) is then developed within the permissioned blockchain to ease the interoperability of the information, semantics, and meaningful inferences. Furthermore, software as a service (SaaS) is configured with decentralized applications to achieve knowledgeable operations or processes with a crash fault-tolerant consensus mechanism. The demonstrative case study in a modular student residence project evaluates the proposed BIBP system prototype with the performance analysis of storage cost, throughput, latency, privacy, and feedback from stake-holders. The results indicate that BIBP has an effective system architecture with acceptable throughput and latency, can save storage costs to achieve a single point of truth in BIM, and avoid a single point of failure for IoT networks with privacy and security-preserving mechanisms.
Xiao Li
added a research item
Blockchain technology has attracted the interest of the global construction industry for its potential to enhance the transparency, traceability, and immutability of construction data and enables collaboration and trust throughout the supply chain. However, such potential cannot be achieved without blockchain "oracles" needed to bridge the on-chain (i.e., blockchain system) and off-chain (i.e., real-life physical project) worlds. This study presents an innovative solution that exploits smart construction objects (SCOs). It develops a SCOs-enabled blockchain oracles (SCOs-BOs) framework. To instantiate this framework, the system architecture of a blockchain-enabled construction supply chain management (BCSCM) system is developed and validated using a case study, whereby four primary smart contracts are examined in the context of off-site logistics and on-site assembly services. The validation results show that accurate data is retrieved against malicious data in each request, and the corresponding reputation scores are successfully recorded. The innovativeness of the research lies in two aspects. In addition to mobilizing SCOs as blockchain oracles to bridge the on-chain and off-chain worlds, it develops a decentralized SCO network to avoid the single point of failure (SPoF) problem widely existing in blockchain systems. This study contributes to existing research and practice to harness the power of blockchain in construction.
Xiao Li
added a research item
[Free PDF: 🌐 https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1c~tz3IhXMpsEg 🌐] The rapidly expanding number of IoT-based camera devices makes smart work packaging (SWP) easier to access massive construction workers’ personal image information for occupational health and safety (OHS) status monitoring. SWP can then transmit these personal data to the cloud for training the machine learning models and offer safety alerts or health insights. However, there are two urgently important challenges. Firstly, the machine learning model needs to aggregate the SWPs’ image data from each construction worker, which may pose a risk to private data leakage without strict privacy and security agreement. In addition, the machine learning models trained on all SWPs’ image data may compromise the personalization of image-based OHS status monitoring for each construction worker. To address the above issues, this study proposes a FedSWP framework, the federated transfer learning-enabled SWP for protecting the personal image information of construction workers in OHS management. FedSWP executes the gradient parameters aggregation through federated learning for the image data in each SWP and builds relatively personalized models by transfer learning. Crane operators’ facial fatigue monitoring experiments are conducted and have evaluated that FedSWP can achieve accurate and personalized safety alerts and healthcare. This study paves the way for the generalization and extension of FedSWP in many construction OHS applications.
Fan Xue
added a research item
By manufacturing housing products off-site and assembling on-site, modular construction can significantly improve the housing supply efficiency, particularly for high-density cities. However, off-site modular housing production (OMHP) supervision is currently problematic. The production parties are reluctant to provide detailed private data; Even worse, the submitted operation records can be easily fabricated, tampered with, or hard to trace the responsibility. This study develops an innovative Two-layer Adaptive Blockchain-based Supervision (TABS) model for OMHP. The first layer includes the adaptive private sidechains of participants. The second layer is the main blockchain for communication and ‘trading’ among all participants. Benefitted from the unique adaptive two-layer structure, TABS can avoid tampering with operation records by the main blockchain and drive the participants to publish their operation records promptly without privacy leaks. A system prototype was also developed to evaluate the performance of the TABS model. The results indicated that the TABS model could enhance privacy and reduce storage costs at an acceptable latency level. The findings of this study can pave the avenue for a tamper-proof and privacy-preserving supervision mechanism in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.
Fan Xue
added 2 research items
Nowadays, building information modeling (BIM) plays a crucial role in project collaboration. BIM information should be freely exchanged among different stakeholders for the purpose of collaboration. With the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), there are many novel data exchange methods for BIM information exchange. However, little literature has attempted to review the current status of BIM data exchange methods. This study aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the status quo of BIM data exchange methods, including file-based method, cloud-based method, and three local data exchange methods. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are identified. This paper reveals that more efforts should be paid for enhancing the capability to deal with large Industry Foundation Class (IFC) files; a more stable, consistent identifier that can uniquely and easily identify an object should be developed; more opportunity in integrating BIM with some emerging technologies, like blockchain, should be seized to solve the problems in BIM data exchange. This study presents an in-depth analysis of the current BIM data exchange method and helps the industry and academia to identify the existing gaps
Prefabricated housing construction (PHC) will be widely recognized as a contributor to consumption reduction and sustainability enhancement if inherent drawbacks (e.g., fragmented management, poor connectivity) can be addressed efficiently. The promotion of advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) has triggered the evolvement of smart product-service systems (SPSS), where a smart connected product (SCP) acts as a critical role in the interconnection of physical components and specialized services for value co-creation. Hence, it is promising to realize the positive improvement of PHC based on an SPSS approach, especially during the challenging post-COVID-19 pandemic era. We developed an intelligent platform based on service-oriented manners with practical case demonstration for interactive innovation of PHC shareholders, among which prefabricated components (PC) have been defined as the SCP in PHC, and a platform-enabled approach has also been adopted in the way of SPSS. Furthermore, distributed security technology viz. blockchain along with inclusive ICT (e.g., Internet-of-Things (IoT), Cyber-Physical System (CPS), and Building Information Modeling (BIM)) are employed jointly to spark new modes of smart construction. Meanwhile, valuable exploration and open research directions are expected to facilitate the PHC supply chain to become more resilient in sustainability. 2
Fan Xue
added a research item
Those attempting to integrate building information modeling (BIM) and blockchain soon encounter the enormous challenge of information redundancy. Storage of duplicated building information in decentralized ledgers already creates redundancy, and this is exacerbated as the BIM model develops and is utilized. This paper presents a novel semantic differential transaction (SDT) approach to minimizing information redundancy in the nascent field of BIM and blockchain integration. Whereas the conventional thinking is to store an entire BIM model or its signature code in blockchain, SDT captures local model changes as SDT records and assembles them into a BIM change contract (BCC). In this way, the version history of a BIM project becomes a chain of timestamped BCCs, and stakeholders can promptly synchronize BIM changes in blockchain. We test our approach in two pilot cases. The results show that SDT captures, in near real time, sequential and simultaneous BIM changes at less than 0.02% of the Industry Foundation Classes file size. We also prove model restoration from the lightweight BCCs in a small-scale BIM project. In addressing the fundamental issue of information redundancy in BIM and blockchain integration, this research can help the industry advance beyond the rhetoric to develop operable blockchain BIM systems.
Fan Xue
added a research item
Blockchain can be regarded as a distributed database that records transaction data in a shared manner. This new technology is considered destructive and can transfer many data-driven industries, including construction. On the other hand, as one of the necessary measures to ensure quality, progress, and safety, construction inspection records still rely on paper. This leads to many problems, such as time-consuming, input errors, file loss, and even data manipulation. This research aims to develop a blockchain-based construction information management platform to expand blockchain applications in construction inspection management. First, conduct a literature review to explore blockchain technologies, types of blockchains, blockchain platforms, and existing construction inspection processes and issues. Based on the review, a method called design thinking is used to develop a blockchain prototype. As a result, a consortium blockchain prototype is developed to help inspection information management. The proposed solution can be tested and fine-tuned in future research. The study also discusses issues related to the current blockchain implementation, which provides numerous opportunities for further investigation. Not only limited to general discussions, one contribution of this research is the development of a configurable prototype so that construction stakeholders can follow and develop their blockchain-based solutions.
Fan Xue
added a project goal
To develop a BIM² platform by integrating blockchain, BIM, and IoT for construction logistics and supply chain management