When you think of a project’s lifecycle, chances are virtual and augmented reality technologies may not immediately come to mind. In recent years, mobile technologies have changed the face of design and construction by becoming tools that support traditional methods, allowing people to conduct business on the go. You will find mobile combined with virtual and augmented reality technologies empowers clients, designers and builders alike.
These innovations are taking building to a new level. Both virtual and augmented reality technologies incorporate BIM, encourage collaboration and open dialog, minimize paper-based processes and allows teams to collectively discover potential issues among trades. While most of these areas have already been discussed, you might find it helpful to visualize the phasing of virtual and augmented reality technologies to support your project’s lifecycle.
Conceptualization Phase: During the conceptual phase, a key to transforming a regular plan into a predictive project management plan begins with a basic understanding between all stakeholders to be actively committed to:
- Reach consensus on the project workflow to take full advantage of the tools and techniques available;
- Help to create a road map of product implementation, and;
- Agree on how to streamline the overall project delivery.
A range of plans may be produced, including a development plan, procurement plan, sequencing and phasing plan, and other management plans for all aspects of a project. Together, the team combines and harmonizes these plans into a single master project management plan that incorporates a BIM execution plan. The idea is to create an environment that is more predictable and avoids redesign.
Design and Preconstruction Phase: During the design phase, preconstruction activities immediately take place as an active collaboration between the engineers, architect, contractors, and project stakeholders that allows for early decision-making, which will increase quality and mitigate risk.
- 3D Modeling: 3D modeling in combination with a sound program plan effort will create a solid foundation for subsequent phases. The BIM Execution Plan, together with the model, must be viewed as a communication tool and a living document that keeps changing subject to change control. The 3D model can also be used to help select materials, determine the structural frame and make skin decisions.
- 4D Modeling: At this time the model explores “what if” scenarios and identifies the most efficient system cost conditions and design alternatives that meet budget and schedule requirements. The 4D model serves as a tool to optimize work sequencing and scheduling. The team looks for prefabrication opportunities. In addition, the team can identify constructability efficiencies using clash detection.
- 5D Model-Based Estimating: 5D model-based estimating during the design development phase allows the team to make more informed design decisions by associating cost with the project model elements. Early communication with the design team about relevant design content and intelligence accelerate our estimating process and generate accurate cost estimate. 5D Model Based estimating at the design and preconstruction phase allows the team to validate the project budget in real-time.
- Virtual Reality: Virtual reality technology allows the client, architect and general contractor to walk through the project together in an “immersive” spatial environment to identify potential issues and improvements early beyond 3D model capability. Trade subcontractors also have the ability to work with prototypes to plan for early fabrication and virtual mock-ups.
- Augmented Reality: Using an iPad or tablet device, project stakeholders can access the model to get a basic gist of a project site’s orientation and field conditions site prior to construction. At the earliest stage of the design, augmented reality can help to define the appropriate building orientation, which is a driver for many other design decisions such as glazing, HVAC and exterior envelope performance.
Today, the design and preconstruction processes are fully integrated, allowing for access to real-time information needed to make critical project decisions. Virtual models are a part of the design phase; they help to reduce uncertainty and interferences during construction. At this phase, we also discuss alternative design solutions, preconstruction visualization and review for constructability information.
Construction Phase: Upon construction, earlier team planning allows the team to use building materials more efficiently with less waste.
- Building Information Modeling: The model is used to extract information in the field via iPad or tablet device. The team experiences quicker project rollout with model-based survey equipment. In addition, the submittal process can be directly tied to the model, capturing the historical record of activities. The model also captures the performed work, manufacturing, quality control and inspection activities via iPad or tablet device in real time using cloud-based collaboration.
- Augmented Reality: Linking key project systems to QR codes allow project stakeholders to access and reference the latest building model and or activities in real time. Tradespeople can access a three-dimensional model to reference for how a structure needs to be built.
Owner Occupancy: When the owner occupies the facility, they can expect greater quality on their completed project. They are provided with a complete virtual building model for operational and renovation purposes.
- 6D Model: The 6D model is usually delivered to the owner, when a construction project is ready to be closed-out. The as-built BIM model is populated with all relevant building component information such as product data and details, maintenance/operation manuals, cut sheet specifications, photos, warranty data, web links to product online sources, manufacturer information and contacts, etc. This information-centric database is made globally accessible to the users/owners through a customized proprietary secure web-based environment. The accuracy of 6D BIM aids facilities managers in the operation and maintenance of the facility throughout its lifetime.
- Augmented Reality: Facility managers have the ability to access information about the finished structure. Today, facility managers and maintenance personnel can access building systems and scan the area with their iPad or tablet. Scanning the area will access information about the building’s systems including the last recorded maintenance and identification of internal components.
Virtual and augmented reality technologies allow for designers and builders to construct the structure in a virtual environment first, then build in the physical world. Engaging and exploring your client’s construction project via virtual and augmented reality environments is more intuitive. Ultimately, these technologies will open new pathways into building a higher level.