Using agent-based modeling to study construction labor productivity as an emergent property of individual and crew interactions

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Department of Computer Science; Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Lean construction research has shown that managing work flow effectively and maintaining labor flow on site can improve construction labor performance. Related research also shows that congestion on construction sites often leads to lowered efficiency. Using these findings as a point of departure, we use the agent-based modeling method to represent the construction site as a system of complex interactions and explore whether labor efficiency can be treated as an emergent property resulting from individual and crew interactions in space. This allows us to use a "bottom-up" approach to analyzing labor efficiency, which supplements existing "top-down" approaches to modeling the impacts of space congestion on labor efficiency. A pilot implementation of the agent-based model, and preliminary results illustrating the relationships between congestion and labor efficiency are presented. The empirical studies exhibit system behavior that support published principles of work-force management. The primary contribution of this paper is that it provides a method that can be used to efficiently utilize construction space, and develop plans and schedules that account for congestion arising from crew interactions in space.

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© 2009 ASCE. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000022

Publication Title

Journal of Construction Engineering and Management