How 4D planning is adding value at Metnor Group


The best construction projects involve many carefully coordinated elements to bring a build to fruition including people, processes and parts. From the crane operator, architect, structural engineer and planners through to the CEO, there is much to navigate to ensure a successful project outcome.

But it’s through adoption of new technology such as 4D planning tools that are helping our teams at Metnor Group achieve a number of great benefits, aiding productivity and delivery of client projects. In short helping us plan, manage and co-ordinate better than we ever have before.

The result? A more efficient, safer and cost- effective service yielding greater on time and on budget results for clients. And in turn, greater outcomes and growth for our own business too.

Part of Metnor’s strategy remains being committed to investing in the latest technology in order to deliver the very best solutions for our clients.  And it’s such investment that is also supporting the businesses future plans as we further expand our divisions and teams across the UK.


Why use 4D planning?

First trialled in the business in 2019, the Synchro 4D planning tool has helped in essentially bringing the construction team together, providing a real-time view and sequence of works going on, on site.

The technology achieves this by creating a virtual construction sequence and schedule of projects, with 4D planning, improving engagement and helping to unlock the range of experience and skills that exist within the project team. The plan of work can then be created, refined, and communicated ensuring that construction activities are not missed and that everyone is fully prepared before physical construction starts. Resulting in safer, more cost effective and efficient projects overall.

Essentially the more information inputted, the more value can be achieved from the model. This can then be used to calculate resources required for activities, costs or durations. Sequences can be viewed in detail, helping teams problem solve, check construction methods, manage interfaces and develop their plans more efficiently.

John Bewick, Group Planning Manager at Metnor Group said;

“4D planning involves a slick in house process too. Models are requested from each Architect, Structural Engineer and MEP consultant and are then combined within the synchro software. Each model element is then linked to a task on the synched programme which allows us to visually see what we have planned and effectively build on paper several “what if” scenarios in advance of actually building on site.”


Benefits for business and clients

And using the technology is paying dividends for both clients and the Metnor business. Aiding buildability, health and safety validation, reducing work clashes and wasted hours and helping to inform build strategy overall.

John added;

“The key benefit brought to our clients is the enhanced certainty on delivery. The 4D technology also allows us to view the planned versus actual against the model, relative to where we should be in real time. And this is something we are currently doing for a number of client projects with immense success.

The 4D planning technology essentially also gives every stakeholder greater visibility to track progress rather than looking at a Gantt chart on a screen, which can so often be misplaced or open to misinterpretation. It’s also been a great tool to communicate our build strategy to our supply chain too.”


Recent client projects

4D planning is now being used across the business with all projects where a model has been produced. In fact, there are 5 key projects currently making full use of the technology in the PRS, healthcare and data centre sectors. This includes a current large data centre project and two medical centres, with future plans also in place to support a large residential scheme too.

Most significantly, introduction of the technology is allowing the team to schedule out the works and create a sequence of tasks that are clash-free. It is also helping as part of the tender process with clients who are seeing the real added value this technology brings to projects.


4D planning – the future

Going forward, the overall strategy will be to ensure every project where feasible is linked to a 4D plan, continuing to bring value through collaboration with stakeholders during the planning and build stages.

Also fully utilised will be consultant models during the tender validation stage and where time allows a 4D sequence simulation as part of the bid process. Allowing the team to fully demonstrate their understanding of the job, aiding efficiencies and method planning.

What’s also great about 4D planning is its future potential. Whilst we know this technology is an excellent tool for monitoring, reporting and controlling progress, the tool can also be used to integrate with drones or site cameras to highlight delay ahead of schedule. Object recognition using AI is also improving fast, so it will soon be possible to automate 4D model updates and comparisons.

John concluded;

“At Metnor Group, our mission is always to offer the very best possible service to our clients delivering quality, efficiency and value.  Staying ahead of the game and continuing to invest in new technologies such as 4D planning supports that goal, and as such, will remain a key part of our strategy going forward.”