How BIM and VR boost the construction industry [Examples]

Posted by Sandrine Lasserre on May 11, 2020 1:35:20 PM
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In 2020, there are 3 main trends you should follow in construction industry:

  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • Virtual reality (VR)
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

These technologies drive the digital transformation of the construction sector. BIM and VR are most important because they offer the chance to experience the project while still in the design phase. They are already bringing about a fundamental change in the way construction industry plans, designs, develop and manage a construction project. They enable all the people collaborating with the project to have the same level of information, while making the process more reliable, productive and cost-effective.

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Many companies in the AEC sector (Architects, Engineers, Construction) already work with BIM model on a regular basis. But most have yet to adopt VR into their construction process.

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When is virtual reality relevant on a construction project?

Whether the model on which the architect team is working is the size of a house or of a bigger scale, like airports, stadiums or hospitals, VR offers the opportunity to check the project in its entirety. It improves the process at every stage. In all cases, VR makes construction project easier for all the parties involved.

Techviz VR software enables construction companies to optimize their design-to-build process, by enabling them to visualize their building-model and the 3D scanning of their building in the same Virtual Environment. Curious about how this works? Check-out our Ebook on Point Clouds and BIM management in Virtual Reality:

Point clouds and VR Ebook

1. Using VR during design and engineering phase

One of the challenges of designers and engineers is gaining accurate insights from end users. Will they adhere to the design choices? Are the different workspaces easy to use? For example, if you are aiming to build a hospital, you must plan for the line of sight for the doctor and nurses, so they can easily check on their patients.

Whereas in 2D, the architect walks the audience through the design, in VR the audience navigates and explores the design from their own perspective, raising more potential issues. Virtual Reality becomes key to avoiding design flaws.

Besides, VR also offers a set of metadata you won’t get with a simple 3D model. VR software enables users to take measures, pin bookmarks and take notes that will help optimize the design-to-build processes. They also provide with the interactions the user had with the model like what they looked at, and how they navigated the future place. This will be very important to improve the ergonomics of the building.

designers watching the BIM model in VR

2. Using VR during costs estimations and planning schedule

With BIM data in VR, estimators can monitor if what they had planned matches with the information and ideas provided by the other participants. By being able to visualize and contextualize the BIM data with a VR simulation, each team involved can literally show their challenges and make them understood by other participants, making communication smoother and in the end, generating a significant reduction in lead-time and cost reduction opportunities.

3. Using VR during the coordination and construction

Working on a digital mock-up helps everyone get a better vision of the different finish features, and understand complex and large-scale projects better. Complex projects may have several typologies of end-users. If you think about an airport, you will have the clients, the desk employees, the security and the maintenance. All of them use the same facilities with different objectives. In this case, understanding the different spaces and the direction of traffic is crucial.

VR software allows you see the BIM model in a real-like environment. The immersive environment is an effective way to visualize the logistic challenges and construction impact of the construction. You will be able to anticipate better if you need to use cranes for your project, or if there are occupied facilities around the construction site that can’t be shut down during construction.

4. During facilities management and operations

Having a VR model provides the building staff and maintenance personnel with a clear understanding of the location of the equipment, and helps creating safety plans of the areas you can’t access easily because of the need of security or safety clearance, like operating rooms.

BIM models include metadata with names and properties of the chosen equipment. This information can be a good basis for 3D documentation. Facility managers can use them to better train and inform their staff.

6 benefits from combining BIM and VR in your construction projects

Virtual reality and BIM projects work hand in hand with 3D modelling. They help architects and engineers detect spatial issues, collisions and design limitations. They also give the different people working on the project a common environment to collaborate better and make decision based on accurate data.

AEC

1. Detect errors at an early stage of the construction project

Some inconsistencies can’t be seen on 2D drawings, and might be too complex to be easily detected with just a 3D model. Moreover, it is critical to look for errors and clashes in the beginning of the project to avoid detecting them late in design or in the construction site. Undetected errors can leave your teams over budget and out schedule. Using BIM data and VR models is the best approach to foresee problems in your construction project.

2. Optimize costs and schedules

The construction industry is very competitive, and it’s not just a matter of getting the job done. It’s about saving your margins, which is why digital transformation of the sector helps companies improve how they monitor their costs and schedule their operations. Virtual Reality offers you tools that will help you decrease your construction costs and avoid delays, because you can just step inside your BIM models and identify in each construction step the possibilities to optimize costs and schedule.

3. Improve collaboration with stakeholders

One of the biggest challenges of construction project, especially large project or complex ones, is the communication between stakeholders. You want to avoid creating silos of information for your project. With BIM and VR, you can share all the data needed by every team, and an environment that enables them to work together on a real-like building, even if they are not located at the same place.

Beyond showing the errors on the model to everyone involved, it also allows the different teams to coordinate the operations better.

two construction worker discussing the construction process with the BIM Model

4. Increase the delivery quality

BIM data in a virtual environment enables faster and more robust decision-making, as well as a better communication between stakeholders. Everyone collaborating better on the project, and better-thinking budget costs will raise the quality of the overall project. Better communication between teams leads to less errors, and leaves no margin to misinterpretations.

 5. Avoid costly rework

VR enhances the communication between the different participants of the project and reduce rework:

  • You don’t get delayed due to a lack of detail or an inaccuracy in the plans
  • You get a quick access to the latest plans, including bookmarks and detected issues
  • You can track daily activity, which will inform all the participants to the project and make it possible to address issues earlier and more efficiently
  • You can identify the problem that caused rework on your project and avoid it for the next ones

6. Make the project more accessible for the clients

The combination of BIM and VR gives the client access to information they traditionally didn’t have. They will be able to understand the estimate, the schedule and the construction steps easier by being immersed in virtual reality, than just with some documents and 2D plans. This will enable them to take decisions based on a better comprehension of your construction project.

Virtual reality software: a performance lever for construction business

One of the biggest challenges of BIM management, is that different stakeholders will work around their own model. VR is a mean so that all users can gather and participate on the same project, and compare them with accurate data, without converting the laser scan into a 3D model and risking to lose crucial information:

Learn more about VR in Construction Industry

Other blog posts that could interest you:

Topics: VR software, AR/VR, CAD models, 3D Visualization, Construction industry

About TechViz

TechViz is a virtual reality software editor with a strong expertise in the fields of virtual reality and 3D visualization solutions for engineering. 
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