The characteristics of congested construction sites and simultaneous multi-contractor working environments require the general contractor or construction manager to coordinate and manage many trades to accomplish a project safely, on time, with the desired quality and within the project budget. To provide a conceptual framework for construction operations modeling, an innovative production flow concept in construction was proposed and elaborated in the early 1990's. In contrast to the traditional viewpoint of construction as activities, the production flow model conceptualizes construction as composed of flow processes. The benefits of using this perspective of production flow to manage construction include the provision of alternatives to a sequential model of project realization, improved construction quality and enhanced coordination among trade contractors. However, the understanding of this theory is limited by not only the abstractness of the concept itself, but also a lack of a visual representation of planning and evaluating techniques for implementing the production flow concepts. This paper presents a visual production flow planning methodology that integrates building elements, construction methods, and trade space occupation requirements for coordinating and sequencing construction trades on a project. The goal of the methodology is to provide a process for improving the visualization of the flow of trades on a project. The methodology achieves this goal by providing a process for planners to visualize trade flow space over time within a 4D CAD visualization environment. The model allows the user to plan and analyze the trade flow by identifying conflicts in trade flow space, trade flow direction, and trade flow continuity. A detailed case study was performed to validate the application of the methodology. This paper presents the methodology for planning, a discussion of the trade flow evaluation process, and an illustration of the application of the methodology on a case study project.
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