Bottleneck Detection in Modular Construction Factories Using Computer Vision

Roshan Panahi, Joseph Louis, Ankur Podder, Colby Swanson, Shanti Pless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


The construction industry is increasingly adopting off-site and modular construction methods due to the advantages offered in terms of safety, quality, and productivity for construction projects. Despite the advantages promised by this method of construction, modular construction factories still rely on manually-intensive work, which can lead to highly variable cycle times. As a result, these factories experience bottlenecks in production that can reduce productivity and cause delays to modular integrated construction projects. To remedy this effect, computer vision-based methods have been proposed to monitor the progress of work in modular construction factories. However, these methods fail to account for changes in the appearance of the modular units during production, they are difficult to adapt to other stations and factories, and they require a significant amount of annotation effort. Due to these drawbacks, this paper proposes a computer vision-based progress monitoring method that is easy to adapt to different stations and factories and relies only on two image annotations per station. In doing so, the Scale-invariant feature transform (SIFT) method is used to identify the presence of modular units at workstations, and the Mask R-CNN deep learning-based method is used to identify active workstations. This information was synthesized using a near real-time data-driven bottleneck identification method suited for assembly lines in modular construction factories. This framework was successfully validated using 420 h of surveillance videos of a production line in a modular construction factory in the U.S., providing 96% accuracy in identifying the occupancy of the workstations and an F-1 Score of 89% in identifying the state of each station on the production line. The extracted active and inactive durations were successfully used via a data-driven bottleneck detection method to detect bottleneck stations inside a modular construction factory. The implementation of this method in factories can lead to continuous and comprehensive monitoring of the production line and prevent delays by timely identification of bottlenecks.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3982
Number of pages23
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-85877


  • bottleneck detection
  • computer vision
  • deep learning
  • modular construction
  • sensors


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