Agent-based modelling and discrete event simulations

Agent-based modelling and discrete event simulations

Simulations may be used to visualise how multiple humans will act and interact while they evacuate a building or travel through a congested area. Moreover, simulations can be used to identify bottlenecks in a supply chain and e.g. optimise the use of trucks on construction sites.

Simulation tools can help construction stakeholders envision how a built environment will function once it is in operation, and/or during construction. Agent-based modelling tools can simulate the actions and interactions of multiple humans, and predict e.g. how people will evacuate a building in case of an emergency. Discreet event simulation tools can simulate the flow in a production system, and take randomness and uncertainty into account to identify where supply chain bottlenecks may occur over time.

In construction, simulation tools can e.g. be used for:

  • Designing the layout of a building, taking in to account e.g. the interaction between employees.
  • Optimising the operation of trucks on a construction site
  • Planning and managing crowds in congested areas
  • Optimising supply chains regarding e.g. worker utilization, on-time delivery rate or scrap rate
Benefits and challenges
  • Early detection of issues that may occur in the use phase
  • Better designs of build structures
  • Better communication with stakeholders due to a visual 3D simulation
  • Optimised use of assets in the construction phase.
  • Large computing power needed
  • Validation of the simulation may be difficult


The simulation software Anylogic was used to simulate and optimise earthmoving activities on a construction site in the Middle East. The client and local authorities had placed restrictive constraints on the site preparation project, including limits to the use and speed of trucks, which made it difficult to avoid delays on the project. A construction simulation model enabled the contractor to experiment with different construction schedules, map the truck routes visually, and optimise the work ( 

The British consultancy firm Space Syntax Limited has used agent-based simulations for creating an optimal layout of their office space to encourage knowledge sharing and foster creativity of employees (

Development stage

Use cases have been demonstrated in construction but the technology is still not widespread.

Construction impact

The technology may impact the design, construction and operation phases of construction projects.

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24 JULY 2024