Using SYNCHRO, it is quick and easy to start planning. Before a review of the basic steps covered in the tutorials, here is an overview of the general approach/methodology. You should also review the 'Using SYNCHRO' chapter in the help (or the User Manual) which elaborates on some of these topics.
|·||You may already have a designated strategic planning system (such as Asta or Primavera) in which your plans originate and are developed. Alternatively you may develop a plan in one system and wish to develop it further in another. SYNCHRO provides comprehensive import, export and ongoing synchronisation options to support bi-directional data exchange at any stage in this process. However, it is recommended that, at any one time, one planning system is designated as the master (where the majority of development and modifications are carried out) and that this system is generally used to update any other. The objective is to avoid pending modifications existing in two planning systems at the same time.|
If you have any control over the creation of 3D geometry which will be used to represent Resources, then consider the minimum level of detail that will be required to clarify the building process, since this can vary from that required for design or manufacture. The more critical construction processes can be modelled in more detail.
|·||Type of 3D geometry|
The 4D simulation works best with 'solid' type 3D geometry that can be shaded. Texts, lines and especially 2D drawings are are not nearly so appropriate. For this reason, plan and elevation drawings will need to be combined to create instead true 3D geometry using, for example, AutoCAD, Revit, MicroStation or Google SketchUp.
The 3D geometry could all be supplied in just one file (of a supported format). In this case it is helpful to group similar types of elements (such as excavations, piles, slabs, columns, walls, cladding, roofing, etc.) in a hierarchical structure or perhaps by layer. This will help to identify elements when they are listed. For most projects it is recommended that the 3D geometry also be divided into multiple files, to provide a top level structure and to limit file size. In this case it also becomes possible to synchronise using just the file containing modified geometry, rather than having to process all of the geometry every time there is a change to any geometry.
Note that architectural systems, such as Revit, automatically generate a structured hierarchy of geometry according to purpose, whereas general 3D modellers, such as AutoCAD require manual intervention (to name layers, for example)
In addition to a useful structure of modelled geometry (as described above) it is also preferable for 3D geometry elements to be appropriately named. For example, a group or layer of concrete slabs could contain several elements which could be named 'Basement 450mm', 'Ground 350mm', 'First Floor', 'Floor 2', etc. Names also help to identify elements when they are listed. Of course, such names are neither mandatory nor critical in SYNCHRO, since resource elements can be identified/selected (for assignment to Tasks, for example) via the 3D view.
|·||Automatically creating Resources|
In the tutorials, new corresponding Resources were automatically created as the 3D geometry was being imported in to SYNCHRO (using the 'Assign to a new Resource' option). The tutorial geometry is well structured and named and therefore created the same very usable structure of Resources. When the 3D geometry is not so well structured, it is often better to import it using the 'No assignment' (to a Resource) option, to manually create your own structure of Resources, and to then run the Resource Wizard for selected 3D elements and assign them using the 'Assign to existing Resource' option. The 'No assignment' option can also be used to address the issue of many elements named 'Subpart' which are sometimes created by Revit and which may cause problems in any future synchronisation of this data.
|·||Managing links to Resources|
Resources are often created during the import of the 3D geometry. If the imported 3D geometry is then found to be incorrect (a wrong or duplicate file could have been imported, for example), then it is important to note that lists of 3D elements and corresponding Resources are independent (i.e. one can be deleted while the other remains).
For example, a 3D file can be imported, creating the corresponding Resources, which in turn can be assigned to Tasks. Should the 3D data be deleted, and then the correct (and possibly similar) 3D data imported, then the new 3D data will not be assigned to the apparently corresponding Resources. Of course, the Resources will remain assigned to Tasks, but playing the Focus Time will not affect the new 3D geometry. In this case, either the new 3D elements must be manually reassigned to the existing Resources, or, the Resources deleted, automatically recreated from the 3D elements, and the new Resources reassigned to the Tasks.
|·||Scale and origin considerations|
When the 3D geometry originates from more than one CAD system, then it is the responsibility of these CAD systems to provide output for SYNCHRO using an agreed common scale (or units) and origin. SYNCHRO can modify geometry (using a manipulator) but this functionality is not intended to correct scale and origin issues. Note that Autodesk products, apart from exporting geometry with the vertical axis horizontal, may export by default using different units, for example AutoCAD (mm), Inventor (cm) and Revit (ft - i.e. in units of 304.8mm).
|·||3D element subdivision|
SYNCHRO recognises that where a 3D element, for example a slab, might be required in several portions, purely for planning purposes, then ideally the design geometry would remain constant, but the planner would be able to control the splitting of the geometry. SYNCHRO provides basic functionality for this purpose, enabling simple geometric elements to be divided into equal portions or along user defined lines. For more information see 3D Subdivision
|·||Resource Appearance Profiles|
Resource Appearance Profiles provide the option to re-use geometry to illustrate more than one process, by a changing an element's colour and/or transparency. Resource Appearance Profiles will often be more efficient than additional modelling or element subdivision.
For example, consider a 'brick - cavity - block work - plasterboard - painted' wall. Modelling each material component as an independent element would be time consuming and inefficient, since some components would have little or no obvious visual impact. Subdividing a wall, for example an L-shaped wall, into these components would not be practical. However, by presenting the same total wall element differently to represent the construction of the block work, the brick work, the plasterboard and finally the finishing by painting, then significant simulation savings can be made. Moreover, additional Resource Appearance Profiles could be used to indicate the fitting of electrical services, for example, and any other processes. For more information see Resource Appearance Profiles
|·||Gannt Chart: WBS vs Activity Code view|
SYNCHRO historically presented tasks only in a structured hierarchical format known as a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). This fixed format lends itself to the creation of sub-tasks to represent a parent task in more detail, for example to illustrate and clarify the sequence of piling operations, or the pours for a concrete slab. To support a more powerful and flexible presentation mode, typically employed by other planning systems and to thereby provide a more seamless integration, SYNCHRO can also list tasks according to Activity Code values. However, the Activity Code presentation format does not accommodate the concept of parent tasks and sub-tasks (and also comes with task property restrictions) which therefore requires a more prescribed approach to introduce detail tasks, (see below).
|·||Creating detail in an Activity Code view|
Consider a task, for example 'Floor 0 Columns 1', which currently installs 6 columns. Suppose that it is now required to show these columns being installed in pairs, i.e. via 3 additional tasks...
- The 3 new tasks would first be created below the original (and will automatically be assigned the same Activity Code values). The duration of the original task would be manually divided between the 3 new tasks.
It must then be decided whether the 3 new tasks should replace the original, or instead in effect be detail tasks. Assuming the latter, for example, (because this most closely approximates the WBS task with sub-tasks hierarchy)...
- A start-to-start type link would be created from the original task to the first new task.
- The 3 new tasks would be linked together typically using finish-to-start type links.
- A finish-to-finish type link would be created from the last new task to the original task.
- A finish-to-finish type link would also be created from the original task back to the last new task.
|·||Restrictions when creating sub-tasks in WBS view|
Parent Tasks group sub-tasks and summarise their Code, Risk and Cost properties, and therefore the parent task can not have these properties themselves. For this reason there is no option to add a Code, Risk or Cost to a parent task, and similarly a task with either a Code, Risk or Cost property will not be allowed to become a parent task by creating a sub-task.
The SYNCHRO File->Import menu option to import Microsoft Project XML is always available. When Asta Powerproject, and/or Primavera P3 have been installed, and/or Primavera P6 and its API has been installed, and when these systems are appropriately licensed, then the SYNCHRO File->Import menu will automatically display these formats as available options.
Note that because Primavera P6 stores Resources (and Calendars, Activity Codes and Risk) as global elements outside of the project, then the corresponding Synchronise and Consolidate 3D options will not be available because otherwise these attributes could be identified for deletion.
|·||The results of Task and Resource Synchronisation options|
Consider a SYNCHRO project and another planning system which have already exchanged (imported or exported) 4 Tasks. 2 new Tasks have been added to the SYNCHRO project, and 2 of the original Tasks (and a Resource) have been deleted from the other plan and then a new Task (and a Resource) have been added, as follows...
SYNCHRO project: Original Task 1 (with Resource A) Other plan: Original Task 1 (with Resource A)
Original Task 2 (with Resource B) Original Task 3 (with Resource C)
Original Task 3 (with 3D Resource C) New Plan Task 7 (Resource G)
Original Task 4 (with 3D Resource D)
New SYNCHRO Task 5 (Resource E)
New SYNCHRO Task 6 (3D Resource F)
On Synchronising from the other plan, all attributes will be skipped, except for Tasks and Resources...
Original Tasks 1 and 3 and Resources A and C always remain
New Plan Task 7 is always created and Resource G is always created and assigned
With Synchronise for both Tasks and Resources:
Tasks 2, 4, 5 and 6, and the corresponding Resources B, D, E and F are deleted
With Synchronise for Tasks and Consolidate for Resources:
Tasks 2, 4, 5 and 6 are deleted (and the corresponding Resources B, D, E and F remain)
With Consolidate for Tasks and Synchronise for Resources:
Resources B, D, E and F are deleted (but Tasks 2, 4, 5 and 6 remain)
With Consolidate for both Tasks and Resources:
All existing Tasks and Resources remain
|·||Links to parent tasks|
SYNCHRO and Microsoft Project allow links to and from parent tasks, whereas Primavera and Asta do not. Links to or from parent tasks should therefore be moved to the first or last sub-task, as appropriate, or otherwise these links will be deleted as part of an export or synchronisation to operation. The only exception to this rule is in the P6 sychronisation operation when the option “Skip detailed schedule on Synchronization to P6” is checked under Options > Synchronisation > Primavera P6 (default selection). Under this option no child tasks will be added, thus any links associated with a WBS summary task (parent task) created in SYNCHRO from an imported P6 task will be kept or added to the original P6 schedule during synchronization.