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Simulating and optimizing precast wall lifting in prefabricated building construction

Zhenmin Yuan (School of Management Engineering, Shandong Jianzhu University, Jinan, China)
Yuan Chang (School of Management Science and Engineering, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, China)
Yunfeng Chen (School of Construction Management Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Yaowu Wang (School of Civil Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China)
Wei Huang (Jiangsu Guangyu Construction Group, Jingjiang, China)
Chen Chen (Nantong Prefabricated Buildings and Intelligent Structures Institute, Nantong, China)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 29 December 2022




Precast wall lifting during prefabricated building construction faces multiple non-lean problems, such as inaccurate lifting-time estimation, unreasonable resource allocation and improper process design. This study aims to identify the pathways for improving lifting performance to advance lean construction of prefabricated buildings.


This study developed a methodological framework that integrates the discrete event simulation method, the elimination, combination, rearrangement and simplification (ECRS) technique and intelligent optimization tool. Two schemes of precast wall lifting, namely, the enterprise's business as usual (BAU) and enterprise-leading (EL) schemes, were set to benchmark lifting performance. Furthermore, a best-practice (BP) scheme was modeled from the perspective of lifting activity ECRS and resource allocation for performance optimization.


A real project was selected to test the effect of the methodological framework. The results showed that compared with the EL scheme, the BP scheme reduced the total lifting time (TLT) by 6.3% and mitigated the TLT uncertainty (the gap between the maximum and minimum time values) by 20.6%. Under the BP scheme, increasing the resource inputs produces an insignificant effect in reducing TLT, i.e. increasing the number of component operators in the caulking subprocess from one to two only shortened the TLT by 3.6%, and no further time reduction was achieved as more component operators were added.


To solve non-lean problems associated with prefabricated building construction, this study provides a methodological framework that can separate a typical precast wall lifting process into fine-level activities. Besides, it also identifies the pathways (including the learning effect mitigation, labor and machinery resource adjustment and activities’ improvement) to reducing TLT and its uncertainty.



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 72071220), the Major Scientific & Technological Innovation Projects of Shandong Province (Grant No. 2021CXGC011204) and the Central University of Finance and Economics (Grant No. QYP202107).


Yuan, Z., Chang, Y., Chen, Y., Wang, Y., Huang, W. and Chen, C. (2022), "Simulating and optimizing precast wall lifting in prefabricated building construction", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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