Application Of ICT In Civil Engineering, Prakriti KC & Ganesh Poudel


The information and communication technology has made a significant impact on our daily activities. It has brought the revolutionary changes in every social, economic and legal sector. Our paper presents the application of ICT during different construction phases, i.e., predesign, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. Here, we discuss how ICT has made the building works easier, cost-effective, and faster.

Information technology has brought an industrial revolution in the construction process throughout the world. It has born general improvement in the performance of construction processes in terms of expenditure, time, quality and client satisfaction. In modern days, ICT can be implemented into different phases and methods of the construction project. Here, construction processes represent the whole life cycle of construction, including predesign, design, development, operation and maintenance. Use of ICT improves coordination, procedures, and collaboration between customer, contractor, and engineer.

Figure 1: ICT in the construction process

Simply, ICT in construction means the adaptation of information communication and technology in construction procedure.
ICT in construction can be broken down into different segments for its better understanding and its role in construction. Before construction procedure firstly, construction industry participants and organizations communicate with each other and are concerned with information exchange, dealing with drawings, specification, cost estimation and changes in design. Communication can include conversation, listening, networking, and information collection, emails, using different electronic medium or manual means. Technology includes design tools like CAD, SAP, BIM used for design, cost estimation, change in design, etc.

For the timely, economical, and successful completion of a construction project, collaborative working is the most essential. Collaborative working mainly depends on the efficiency of information management and communication in the project life cycle. Figure 3 below shows the traditional and envisioned approach in information and communication management in the project life cycle. There is a number of participants in a project. As the number of participants’ increases, this communication process becomes complicated and difficult to organize and control. In an advanced project information management and sharing system, all project information is gathered into a central database from where it is transferred to the appropriate participant and hence, advancing the collaboration.

2.1 Conventional approach

Flow of information is difficult and expensive due to extra expenditure like travelling, fax, telephone, hard copies etc. Refer figure 2(a)

1.1 Modern approach

Combined medium is provided through computer database making the flow of information easier, safer, more reliable, and faster.

1. Predesign
2. Design
3. Construction
4. Operation
5. Maintenance

4.1 Predesign
To define the requirements of the clients with respect to space management, cost, quality and time of completion of project. It includes preliminary design, layouts, site soil tests, topography etc. to check the feasibility of the project. For predesign the following computer programs may be found applicable:
a) Google Earth
b) GPS
c) GIS etc.

4.2 Design
Designing phase includes virtual construction before starting the real construction to check the efficiency of the project. It’s considered major step to be taken in the construction that highly improves the performance of the project in all respects. The design software includes the following:
a) CAD
b) SAP
e) BIM etc.

4.3 Construction planning

It involves cost estimation and schedule management or any one of them.
It may also include the choice of technology, the time taken to complete each task, required resources, etc.
In more significant projects, both the dimensions, i.e., schedule and budget information must be considered.
Though intellectual construction planning is not widely used in Nepal, Microsoft project is software commonly used in Nepal for construction management.

4.4 Construction
Construction includes the following:
a) Batching:
Concrete mix aggregates are introduced in the mixture in correct proportion within accuracy by the direct input of data in the computer.

b) Compaction:
By fixing number and frequency of vibrations digitally compaction in roads, foundations, etc. can be done quickly.

c) Curing:
Amount of water required for curing can be instructed from the computerized system.

4.5 Operation
The automated system is used in the operation of structures like adjustment of the gate of the dam.
It is also highly useful in structures like hospitals, shopping complexes for the operation of the elevator, lift, escalator, etc.

4.6 Maintenance
Regular maintenance of the constructed structures can be done using ICT.
For example:
The scanner can be used to detect the width of the internal crack and determine whether the structure is safe or not.

• Improves the performance of construction processes in terms of cost, time, quality and client satisfaction.
• Enhance cooperation, coordination and collaboration level.
• Change in design can be made efficiently.
• Works as catalyst in development processes.
• Lower financial risk
• It helps completing the project in estimated time and budget.
• Effective communication between project participants.
• Group decision making is made easier.
• Possibility of error is minimized.
• Information flow is accurate

Successful implementation of ICT is not as much comfortable as it is thought of. Mainly developing countries like Nepal face more problems for the use of ICT in the construction. Some of the significant ongoing challenges are as follows:

1. The Nepalese society is not sufficiently exposed to IT and it’s benefit.
2. Government should lower the tariffs on IT tools.
3. New technology demand new skills sets and training. So there is need of qualified and skillful IT professionals in the country.

Researchers are developing visual simulation of construction process each day which is regarded as the significant step forward for the perfection in design. It Challenges the existing methods of evaluation that are often more laborious and time consuming. The success stories of utilizing ICTs in developed countries have drawn the attention of researchers in developing countries like Nepal regarding the beneficial effects of using ICTs into construction processes.

The uses of technology in construction are complex and expensive solutions. Although its initial cost is more significant the use of ICT is found to have long term benefits in the construction process. Nepalese contractors can save a considerable amount of Nepalese currency from foreign contractors by using new technology efficiently.
Hence, developing countries like ours must realize the need for new technologies of information and communication in civil engineering prospects and break the technical crises.