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Development of automated pipe spool monitoring system using RFID and 3D model for plant construction project

Authors:
  • Hyundai Engineering & Construction

Abstract and Figures

For plant construction, installation of complex pipe spools is one of the integral parts of management and operation. Construction errors in such plants have been increasing as they become bigger and more complex. To reduce the number of construction errors, an efficient management mechanism for pipe spool installation with real-time monitoring is desired. A Ubiquitous Sensor Network (USN), which utilizes low-power wireless data communication technologies such as Wireless Local-Area Networking (WLAN) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is seen as an enabling technology for intelligent management of piping installation. This research aims to develop a real-time pipe tracking system for plant construction, utilizing state-of-the-art technologies such as RFID and 3D digital models on a handheld mobile device, which allows more efficient task management than a conventional computer.
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KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering (2013) 17(5):865-876
DOI 10.1007/s12205-013-0111-9
865
www.springer.com/12205
Construction Management
Development of Automated Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID
and 3D Model for Plant Construction Project
C. H. Kim*, S. W. Kwon**, and C. Y. Cho***
Received April 15, 2011/Revised 1st: May 12, 2012, 2nd: July 18, 2012/Accepted August 18, 2012
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Abstract
For plant construction, installation of complex pipe spools is one of the integral parts of management and operation. Construction
errors in such plants have been increasing as they become bigger and more complex. To reduce the number of construction errors, an
efficient management mechanism for pipe spool installation with real-time monitoring is desired. A Ubiquitous Sensor Network
(USN), which utilizes low-power wireless data communication technologies such as Wireless Local-Area Networking (WLAN) and
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is seen as an enabling technology for intelligent management of piping installation. This
research aims to develop a real-time pipe tracking system for plant construction, utilizing state-of-the-art technologies such as RFID
and 3D digital models on a handheld mobile device, which allows more efficient task management than a conventional computer.
Keywords: pipe tracking, RFID, plant construction, real-time monitoring
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1. Introduction
Plant construction is distinguished from other construction projects
in that prefabricated materials and equipment installation comprise
a substantial portion of the whole project (Kini, 1999). Pipe
installation accounts for 45% of the cost of plant construction.
Plants involve hundreds or thousands of spools with unique
properties such as material, shape and finishing method. A pipe
spool consists of a series of pipes connected with fittings,
flanges, gaskets and fasteners. They are cut into the desired
length and pre-assembled at the factory and then delivered to the
job site. In a typical plant project with total installed cost ranging
from US$200 to US$300 million, there may be as many as
10,000 pieces of pipe spools (Song et al., 2004).
Pipe route composition for plant operations is necessary to
design systematically. (Kim et al., 2009). Pipe installation is a
precise task because pipe spools are similar in shape. For
constructing larger plants, the practice described above may
cause various bookkeeping errors, such as missing, duplicated,
or incorrect information which would result in costly problems
such as rework, project delays or quality issues.
Numerous pipe spools have to be fabricated and delivered on-
time to guarantee timely installation. It is essential to monitor the
fabrication process of the spools so that they can be delivered to
the site on time. Therefore, an efficient method for managing
both spool fabrication and which installations have been
completed is necessary.
Due to recent advances in information technology, various
new management systems have been adopted in the construction
industry. For instance, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
and wireless network technology are widely used in construction
work sites for monitoring labor, factory-fabricated steel frames,
curtain walls and ready-mixed concrete.
Our research proposes an RFID and wireless network based
work process monitoring system designed for efficient information
management related to pipe spools. The system is capable of
crash detecting, real-time information sharing with stakeholders,
effective control of design and construction work and checking
construction errors. Several tests were conducted to assess the
feasibility of our new system.
2. Literature Review
2.1 Applications of RFID Technology in Construction Indus-
tries
In this section, RFID technology in the construction industry is
summarized. Past research falls in one of two categories: proposals
for RFID application in construction or feasibility studies.
Jaselskis et al. (1995) provides information on Radio-
Frequency Identification (RFID) and showed conceptual design
system-based RFID technology for concrete processing and
handling. The Construction Industry Institute studied the new field
*Assistant Manager, Samoo Architecs & Engineers, Seoul 138-240, Korea (E-mail: deestynova12@naver.com)
**Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil, Architectural and Environmental System Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 400-746, Korea (Corre-
sponding Author, E-mail: swkwon@skku.edu)
***Junior Research Engineer, Tall Building Team, R&D Division, Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Yongin 446-716, Korea (E-mail: cycho@hdec.co.kr)
C. H. Kim, S. W. Kwon, and C. Y. Cho
866 KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering
of RFID application including engineering/design, material
management, maintenance and field work (Construction
Industry Institute Research Team, 2000). There is some research
on RFID applications for finishing material (Kwon et al., 2004),
structural steel work (Chin et al., 2008), construction materials
(Yagi et al., 2005) and safety supervision for reducing construction
accidents (Lee et al., 2006) and construction management by
adding IT (Information Technologies) including RFID and Global
Positioning System (GPS) onto tower cranes (Han et al., 2004) and
measuring the location of workers in the field.
As an alternative to effective material tracking and checking
the installation, Furlani and Pfeffer (2000), presented a prototype
for identifying structural steel members and Comp-TRAK,
which uses a 3D scanner, bar-code and RFID technology. Akinci
et al., presented research about application supply chains and
construction management for precast concrete (Akinci et al.,
2002; Ergen et al., 2003).
In a case study of RFID- applications, Cawley (2003) showed
the feasibility of RFID applications to monitor concrete curing
by checking the temperature of concrete. Goodrum et al. (2005)
developed a tool tracking and inventory system using RFID tags
and verified the system through tests. Jaselskisand El-Misalami
(2003), showed time savings when RFID technology is used to
track pipe supports and hangers based on a field test. However,
their research doesn’t on a the full lifecycle of pipe spools from
manufacturing to procurement and installation.
A construction company applied RFID technology using
21,000 RFID tags for steel structure elements, curtain walls, and
concrete trucks. They estimated that they saved 0.5% of total
construction cost and 8% of the construction schedule.
From our survey, RFID technology is appropriate for many job
sites but there is little research on automated systems for on-
demand information tracking and real-time monitoring of pipe
spools through their life cycle.
A construction company completed a construction project
using RFID technology to monitor 16,000 pieces of steel
elements and 5000 units of curtain walls. Use of RFID reduced
equipment cost, indirect cost, construction cost, and construction
labor but required expenditure for the RFID system.
2.2 Applications of Information Management in Construc-
tion Engineering
Recently in the construction industry, efficient planning and
management by using construction information has been
necessary. In this chapter, previous research results are analyzed
involving information management in the construction and
engineering areas. Wang developed a 4D site based management
model which can conduct graphical simulations of the construction
process in order to integrate a 3D model into schedule information
to support resource management and decision making on the
construction site (Wang et al., 2004). Singh developed a
framework for collaboration and intercommunication for BIM
applications (Singh et al., 2011). Cao developed a theory for how
a construction manager can collect and share project information
and developed a system using this theory (Cao et al., 2002).
Chau (2004) developed 2 phases of a dynamic model using a
genetic algorithm for efficient allocation of facilities and
materials and verified the efficiency of the model by applying it
to real cases.
2.3 Efforts to Improve Construction Efficiency in Plant
Projects
Plant projects are getting bigger and more complicated and
increasingly being executed quickly. Timely and accurate project
management is necessary. Various technologies have been
developed, and research has been conducted. This section reviews
present research on improving productivity during construction.
Tommelein (1998) illustrated a process model of materials
using the lean construction technique known as pull-driven
scheduling and verified it by using the simulation method.
Arbulu et al. (2002) proposed a model to shorter supply chain
lead times using values stream maps. Song et al. (2006)
proposed the use of RFID for automating logistics management
of pipe spools as an alternative to the conventional tracking
method, which has various shortcomings. Their prototype has
been evaluated via field tests for assessing its feasibility, and
benefits expected from it are discussed.
Several advanced IT tools are known in the plant construction
area. One tool, Intelligent Plant Information System, integrates a
data server, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and
a suite of application software for managing operational plants.
A second example is a Clash Managing tool (as a part of a plant
design management system), which detects unwanted overlap
between the pipes in the plant design, which is very difficult to
detect manually. Real-time monitoring of the installation
progress is a third purpose of such tools, which is enabled by
individual bar-code tags attached to the spools when they are
fabricated. A spool is scanned shortly before it is welded so that
overall job progress can be tracked.
These technologies, while providing useful information to their
users, only provide less-than-expected accessibility to field personnel.
For instance, it is hard to access the intelligent plant information
system from the job site where electrical power and internet access
are limited. The clash management tool is of little use for the job site
as it mainly targets the design stage. Bar codes are susceptible to
damage in harsh environments such as construction sites.
From reviews of preceding research, we determined that
monitoring technology should have the following aspects. For
efficient management of plant construction, related information
has to be available in real time where the piping is installed.
Current information on the 3D plant design is needed to detect
installation errors.
3. Analysis of As-is Plant Pipe Management Pro-
cess
3.1 Plant Pipe Management Process
The authors surveyed current practices in plant construction
Development of Automated Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID and 3D Model for Plant Construction Project
Vol. 17, No. 5 / July 2013 867
via literature and expert interviews. Based on current practices,
the work process for plant pipes was analyzed. The work process
can be broken down into the following stages: design, procurement
and inspection of the spool parts, fabrication of the spools,
delivery to the jobsite (or to a workshop near the site for
assembly), installation and on-site inspection, and maintenance.
Various departments in an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and
Construction) company (e.g., purchasing, design and construction),
material sellers, and specialized spool fabricators are among the
participants in the process. (Fig. 1) illustrates this process.
The design stage includes P&ID (Piping and Instrumentation
Diagram), 3D modeling and isometric-drawing. The P&ID lists
pipe size, location, material, surface treatment, fluid types and
pressure. Constructability check and inference check are made
using 3D models and construction drawings are made based on
the models.
The bill of materials is produced from the design, which is
passed to the material sellers. Spool components such as pipes,
fittings, flanges, gaskets, and fasteners are then delivered to the
fabricator and to the job site.
Third, at the fabrication stage, the fabricator produces the
spools based on drawings which contain individual spool ID’s.
The spools are branded with the ID codes, receive surface
treatments and inspections and are sent to the stockyard for
shipment to the construction site for installation. The installed
spools are inspected to ensure proper installation.
3.2 Problems in Current Management Practices
During the current practices described above, various issues
regarding correctness of the information during the process. This
may involve documents and conventional communication. Some
examples of such issues are redundancy, errors and omissions of
the original information. Such problems would lead to further
complications such as rework, loss of materials, etc. Also, for
checking installed pipe spools against design drawings, a significant
number of well-experienced engineers who are capable of
comprehending complex drawings are needed.
Table 1 lists in detail the potential problems that could be
encountered with the current (conventional) work process. To
overcome these problems, communication mechanisms and
tools regarding information management need to be improved by
adopting recent technology advances such as real-time information
acquisition, automated information collection, and an efficient
information delivery mechanism.
Specifically, a pipe spool monitoring system is proposed for
solving problems that occur on site after fabrication of pipe spools.
This system can help supervisors to monitor the installation
process of pipe spools using a mobile RFID reader that includes
Fig. 1. Plant Pipe Process
Table 1. Problem of Current Practices in the Plant Construction Process
Stages Problems Remarks
Designing pipe spools Materials on the design drawings do not match with the
ones in the fabricated spools. Redesign of the drawing
Fabrication of spools Missing spool components such as pipes, fittings, flanges, etc. Redundant information gathering tasks are required
to counter this problem
Inspection and shipping Missing spools from non-destructive inspections and surface
treatment works
Defects may occur due to incorrect inspection; redun-
dant inspections may be needed.
Stocking the delivered spools Difficulty in locating a specific spool in a stockyard. Some spools could be lost due to this problem.
Installing spools on site Difficulty in locating the installation point of a specific spool. reinstallation of the spool
C. H. Kim, S. W. Kwon, and C. Y. Cho
868 KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering
pipe spool information such as inspection date and fabrication
date.
4. Work Process Monitoring System for Pipe
Spools using RFID and Wireless Networks
4.1 Concept of Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID
and Wireless Networks
This paper explains our proposal for using RFID and wireless
network technology to support the pipe spool production and
installation during plant construction, based on expert interviews
and visits to factories. The pipe spool monitoring system allows
its users to obtain information about the location, movement and
installation of the pipe spools in real time. The system provides
communication between the job site and the EPC company
headquarters for passing status information on the work process.
The spool information is gathered using RFID technology, while
status information is stored in the backplane database, which
records the information generated from each task in the process,
as well as the tracking information from the RFID operations in
the process chain. On the work process management system, the
collected information is interrelated to aid relevant management
decisions. Fig. 2 illustrates the concept of the system, which is
the main objective of this research.
In our system, when a pipe spool is fabricated, an RFID tag
representing the spool is produced, which also contains
descriptive information such as size, installation location and
material in addition to the ID code of the spool. The ID of the
RFID tag is mapped to the object identifier of the spool on the
drawing. This allows the field users, who are equipped with a
hand-held RFID reader, to understand the context of the spool,
and to send the updated status to the backplane database in real-
time.
As mentioned above, a plant spool passes several work stages
(for instance, ordering, fabrication, shipping, storage, delivery,
lifting, installation, and inspection). The tag must be attached and
read at the right time in each stage. The best time for tag
attachment is when the spool has just completed its own
fabrication work. Also, for tag reading points, we identified the
shipping time (at the fabricator’s warehouse), entry to the
construction site, and inspection time for installed spools.
At the shipping time, the system retrieves the history of
inspection and treatment of a given spool when it reads the
spool’s RFID tag. Simultaneously, the fabricator-side invoice
and inventory information is updated at the backplane database.
At the delivery time (to the work site), the delivered spool can be
checked against the shipping list by reading its RFID tag. For
inspection of the installed spool, the inspector can retrieve the
design drawing from the backplane database as well as the spool
information so that she can confirm the given spool is installed as
instructed by the drawing.
The measures to attach the RFID tag considering the type and
material of the spool are described as follows;
First, remove foreign substances and maintain the flatness of
the pipe surface when attaching the tag.
Second, determine parts for attachment away from curved or
Fig. 2. Concept of Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID
Fig. 3. To-be Processed Model for Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID
Development of Automated Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID and 3D Model for Plant Construction Project
Vol. 17, No. 5 / July 2013 869
dented surface.
Third, select appropriate parts for readability of the RFID tag.
Fourth, use adhesive tape or instant glue to attach the RFID tag.
4.2 Development of Pipe Spool Monitoring System using
RFID and Wireless Networks
The pipe spools monitoring system consists of the RFID tag
for pipe spools and wireless network devices. The hand-held
reader contains descriptive information such as 3D modeling and
spool ID.
In a harsh external environment with intense heat, humidity
and vibration present, we decided to use passive-type RFID tags
encased in metal housing for our prototype to withstand shocks
that occur during the construction process. Also, this paper uses a
gun type hand-held reader which allows the field user to easily
display the information on the RFID tag and the current
construction situation using the large screen. Table 2 lists the
hardware specification of our system.
In order to operate properly, the hand-held reader must be able
to communicate with other systems such as the database server
and the web service. Fig. 4 shows the system architecture this
paper developed.
The server and client compose the entire system. The client
can be either a web-based one containing the Dwg Viewer (built
around ActiveX technology), or a hand-held reader which is able
to communicate over Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)/
Wireless Markup Language (WML) protocol. The server part
consists of the Java Server Page (JSP) responsible for the server
web and web service.
Figure 5 shows the flow of information for spool construction.
This information model diagram illustrates the relationships
between the database server and the webservice.
To increase the efficiency of construction management with
crash detection for real time information sharing with stakeholders
and for checking construction errors, the function of the hand-
held reader and webservice for the pipe spool monitoring system
with RFID is described in Table 3.
Based on the above program functions, this paper describes the
user interface of this program. First, the webservice is described
as follows:
• Drawing Management
The webservice has four functions; drawing management,
spool management, material composing the spool management
and installation progress checking. In the drawing management
function, the user can find lists of the spool drawing, the
filename of each drawing and the corresponding location. After
clicking the filename of the drawing, the drawing appears on the
screen. After clicking the register button, the user can register
new drawings.
• Spool Management
Table 2. Specification of the Pipe Spool Monitoring System using
RFID
Hardware Specification
CDMA/WIBRO 900 Mhz/1.8 GHz
RFID Reader
900 Mhz
128 MB RAM/258 MB ROM
3.5 inch TFT LCD / QVGA Resolution
RFID tag Metal Passive Tag
Fig. 4. System Architecture
C. H. Kim, S. W. Kwon, and C. Y. Cho
870 KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering
In the spool management function, the user can discover
detailed information about the pipe spool. After clicking the
drawing containing the spool to be checked, the user can find
information on the spool such as arrival date, scheduled
installation date and installation date. After clicking the register
button, the user can register the file of the new spool. The register
Fig. 5. Information Model of the Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID
Table 3. List of Functions for Web Service and Hand-held Reader
Object Function Content
Web Service
Drawing management List of drawing Display the list of drawings saved in database
Registration of drawings Register new drawings
Spool management List of the spool Display the list of spools saved in database
Registration of the spool Register the file of the spool involved in the drawing
Material management List of materials Display the list of materials saved in database
Registration of materials Register the file of the material involved in the spool
Checking of installation
progress
Checking of installation
progress Display the current status of spool installation on the screen
Hand- held reader
program
Spool management
Log in Acquire the authority to operate the program
List of drawing Display the list of drawings saved in database
Identification of the tag Update drawings to identification the tags
Transmission Transmit updated information to server
Zoom in Larger a drawing
Zoom out Minify a drawing
Zoom extend Customize a drawing
Material management Log in Acquire the authority to operate the program
List of materials View the list of materials
Development of Automated Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID and 3D Model for Plant Construction Project
Vol. 17, No. 5 / July 2013 871
file must be written in Comma Separated Values (CSV) file
format.
• Material Management
In the material management function, the user can find information
on the material composing the spool.
• Installation Process Checking
If the information about the installation of the spool is
transmitted via hand-held reader, the user can check the current
construction situation.
The real time monitoring process for pipe spools via hand-
held reader is explained in Fig. 11. After user login and
clicking the list button, the current list of drawings that are
Fig. 6. Screen Shots of Web Service Application
Fig. 7. Screen Shots of the Application for Hand-held Reader
C. H. Kim, S. W. Kwon, and C. Y. Cho
872 KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering
stored on the server appears on the screen. When the reader
recognizes a tag, or a user clicks the “view more” button, the
screen will change. The spool checked will be displayed in
red. After the user clicks the “submit” button after tag
recognition, the confirmation information will be stored on
the server.
The flow of information described above is shown in Fig. 8.
5. Verification Through Tests
First, we conducted a laboratory test based on the RFID tag
type for measuring identification, spool material, spool shape
and the distance between the RFID tag and reader. Second, a
field test was implemented to verify the performance of our
system.
5.1 Laboratory Test
The laboratory test was conducted to determine the recognition
capability in order to decide how to specify the pipe spool
monitoring system’s hardware.
• Identification Ratio with Various Types of RFID Tags
To determine the best RFID tag type for our system, the test
was conducted by using a metal tag and sticker tag attached to
the metal plate. Considering the complexity of piping on plant
construction sites, the distance between the RFID tag and the
reader was limited to less than 50 cm. Recognition errors related
to the sticker tag occurred 8 times among 20 total tests. This
result led us to conclude that the use of the sticker tag is not
appropriate. The metal tag was recognized all 20 times at 30 cm.
• Identification Ratio with Varying Spool Materials
This test was conducted by attaching metal tags on metal
materials such as tin, aluminum and iron with a recognition
range of 50 cm. Identification was successful in all cases.
• Identification Ratio with Varying Shapes of Spools
The objective of this test is to know the identification ratio
with various shapes of spools. The test is conducted with sample
spools of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) material, which are made
to match the shape of the spools for the field test. The sticker tags
were attached to each component in the spool, which were 3D
modeled and then registered to a hand-held reader. We tested
whether the identified tags were able to retrieve the associated
3D model with the tag on screen. The spool installation can be
identified by changing the color of the spool on the 3D model
from green to red after checking installation of the spool by
comparing the tag to an identifier in the 3D model.
Fig. 8. Sequence Diagram
Fig. 9. Test of Identification Ratio with Varying Spool Shapes, (a) 3D Modcling, (b) Pulting the Information in the Server, (c) Making the
Spool, (d) Attaching the Tags, (e) A type Spool, (f) B Type Spool, (g) Reading the Tags, (h) Checking the Situation of Installation
Development of Automated Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID and 3D Model for Plant Construction Project
Vol. 17, No. 5 / July 2013 873
• Identification of Success Ratio with Varying Distances
The purpose of this test is to understand the identification ratio
with varying distances. This test was conducted by checking the
identification distance by activating the reader with a symmetric
approach to the spool.
We first started to operate the reader at 5 m (at which the reader
was specified at a maximum detectable distance from a tag) from
the tag-attached spool, and then relocated the reader closer to the
spool to check whether the tag signal could be detected. We used
a measuring tape to place the reader precisely. The test result,
after ten iterations, showed that the tags always had been
recognized within 2 m, with an error tolerance of 5 cm.
• Identification Ratio with Different Locations
We tested different locations of the reader and the tag and
symmetric locations versus asymmetric locations. Fig. 10 is a
diagram which illustrates the entire plant field to describe the
condition of the test.
For each layout, we ran the reader ten times and measured the
number of successful recognitions. We initially separated the
reader from the spool for 2 m (the optimal distance we obtained
from the previous test), and reduced the distance for successive
measurement. Identification success was declared when the
reader displayed the information on the targeted tag, without
inferences with non-targeted tags. The result is shown in Fig. 11.
It is shown that the symmetric layout generally had better
performance (i.e., more identification success). Up to 50
centimeters, both layouts performed very well, attaining at least a
90% success ratio.
5.2 Field Test
The objective of this test is to verify feasibility of the pipe
spool monitoring system. The test scene was arranged to
determine the correctness of the spool fabrication according to
the spool design, when the fabricated spool was delivered to the
plant project site. A hand-held reader was used for getting a
spool ID out of an RFID tag, which was fed to our pipe spool
monitoring system to retrieve the 3D model.
The test was concerned with two key functionalities of our
system: first, real time monitoring of spool materials by identifying
the tags. Second, catching errors and anomalies in the installed
spool. The field test condition is illustrated in Table 4.
A facility room (500 m2) was selected as the test bed since it is
very similar actual plant construction. For the test, we tried to
reflect the working conditions of real plant work sites including
the typical paths of inspectors’ movements, possible locations of
tag attachments. To avoid redundant tag identification, we
limited the distance of the reader to 50 centimeters, and assumed
that the reader would move slowly as its operator walked around
reading tags.
The scenario for this test is described as follows: A worker,
who is equipped with a hand-held RFID reader, identifies the
metal tag containing an individual spool ID. If the spool were
installed in the right place, the worker could change the color of
the spool from green to red on the viewer. When the updated
status is sent to the backplane database in real-time, the worker
can confirm the given spool is installed as instructed by the
drawing. Fig. 12 shows snapshots taken during the field test with
annotation.
A real plant construction site is more complicated but has a
shorter distance between the RFID reader and pipe spool.
Various tests conducted by different RFID readers range from 0-
2.0 m. The result of the RFID readability test (reading range 0-1
m) was similar to the result of the plant construction site test at 1-
2 m.
Although the speed of operation is different depending on the
skill of the worker, tag identification for spool installation has a
100% success rate. Image output to change the color took two
seconds because the 3D modeling file registered in the hand-held
Fig. 10. Test of Identification Ratio with Different Layouts
Fig. 11. Results of Test Identification Ratio with Different Locations
Table 4. Field Test Condition
Target Process Test location Type of tags Speed of
measuring Obstacle Need for multiple
measurements
Attachment
part
Pipe installation Mechanical equipment room Passive Low Existence Necessity Water pipe
C. H. Kim, S. W. Kwon, and C. Y. Cho
874 KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering
reader is heavy. The function of checking construction errors and
the current situation of the spool installation on the web service
exceeded our performance requirements.
6. Potential Benefit from Pipe Spools Monitoring
System using RFID
The pipe spool monitoring system using RFID proposed in this
paper is expected to improve the accuracy of construction. Table
5 shows expected results for cost reduction.
Pipe installation accounting for 45% of construction is significant.
As mentioned above, project delay may arise due to various
bookkeeping errors. In his paper, Jaselskis asserts that the pipe
construction period could be reduced up to 30% by preventing
construction delays in plant projects.
This research describes cost reduction due to eliminating
construction delay. The process of calculating the cost is as
follows. The cost of piping work can be calculated from the total
construction cost by multiplying the ratio the pipe work occupies
to the total cost (43%).
By applying the time saved by the system (30%), total savings
from the reduced schedule can be derived. Thirty percent was
proposed for calculating the optimal cost. Details are shown in
Table 6.
7. Conclusions
To improve plant construction techniques, this research developed
Fig. 12. Field Test: (a) Attaching the Tag, (b) Completing the Attachement, (c) Reading the Tag, (d) Checking the Completion of the Instal-
lation using the Reader, (e) Transmitting Updated Information of th Installation, (f) Monitoring Construction Status
Table 5. Expected Effectiveness from Pipe Spool Monitoring System
CONTENT
Cost reduction in rework ·Reducing rework and enhancing the quality of construction via checking the pipe installation errors
Loss reduction in pipe material ·Reducing loss of materials of the spool due to omission of the information
Overhead costs reduction
·Improving the construction management and shortening the construction period to identify the real-time
information of pipes
Efficiency of workforce management ·Reducing cost in workforce for spool stock, quality inspection, verification of the spool installation
Table 6. Reducing Cost and Reducing Construction Delay
Company Contract amount
(unit : 1, 000 US dollars)
Construction period
(month) Process of calculating Reducible cost
(unit : 1, 000 US dollars)
Refinery plant
D 331,898 59
Contract amount
× 43%
× 30%
42,814
G 111,013 31 14,320
P 269,348 39 34,745
GTL plant D 145,336 49 18,748
Gas plant
D 169,300 24 21,839
H 621,855 41 80,219
D 312,967 38 40,372
H 96,381 31 12,433
Development of Automated Pipe Spool Monitoring System using RFID and 3D Model for Plant Construction Project
Vol. 17, No. 5 / July 2013 875
a pipe spool monitoring system using RFID to share spool
information in real time for automated information collection
and effective control of construction work. We evaluated the
performance of the system developed in this paper through a
laboratory test. The function of checking construction errors and
the current situation of the spool installation on the web service is
verified through a field test. The system can be deployed to real-
world plant construction sites.
Usable information items produced from plant projects were
recorded in documents and then communicated over wire lines.
Both were susceptible to damage and deterioration. Our system,
on the other hand, utilizes information technology for managing
the information in a more efficient and reliable manner- the
operator can access the 3D digital model of a spool from a web-
based viewer, with various status information such as materials,
shipping and inventory info and installation conditions. Our
system also allows real time sharing of digital information,
avoiding duplicate, missing, or erroneous data, which enables
overall work efficiency and enhanced quality of plant construction.
In this research, an object based DB system has the attributes
which integrated object based 3D model and data structure of
RFID tag. Besides increasing constructability of pipe spool
installation during construction phase, the system can facilitate
productivity of project lifecycle management by association of
specification information including material, shape, material
strength, pressure etc. during Operation and Maintenance stage
(O&M). Thus, the contribution of this research is that a
supervisor at a plant construction site can check constructability
and maintenance process of a pipe spool by using color changed
an object based 3D model on monitor of mobile RFID reader
integrating with the information on an mobile RFID reader.
Accordingly, this system can help for supervisors to check
installation and maintenance process of pipe spools through 3D
model which is showed using a mobile RFID reader that
includes up-to-date pipe spool information such as inspection
date and fabrication date.
Development of site oriented system, advanced and durable
hardware system, establishment of detailed work process, and
software training require further work. The limitations of this
research include limited data on cost savings. Further research is
needed for decision makers considering a real-time pipe spool
monitoring system using RFID and a 3D model.
Acknowledgements
This paper was supported by SEOK CHUN Research Fund,
Sungkyunkwan University, 2006.
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