How AR & VR are Transforming Construction Industry
Today, India is one of the six fastest-growing economies of the world & the ‘Construction industry’ serving as a major contributor, is in great need of digitalization.
Digital transformation is a key priority for solving challenges in processes, business models, and ecosystems of the construction industry.
The global construction industry has always been one of the last industries to adopt new technologies, may it be the digital twins, pre-fabrications, 3D Printing or the AR/VR - all of these buzzing words are in other industries for quite a long time, but now they are being looked at in the perspective of Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry in the recent years, & now, this shift is at a faster pace.
In this direction, The BIM (Building information modeling - a process of generating, storing, managing, exchanging, and sharing building information) is acting as a key in digitizing the construction industry, It is enabling various project stakeholders to create information-rich virtual models that help better to visualize building projects. But the BIM models that we produce are of massive scale and complexity.
This hyper-connected ocean of complex data can really & effectively be converted into an experience through the immersive technology AR & VR. This enables us to finally deliver an experience in the field.
We can't really absorb the details of the actual site or interact with the objects with the traditional 2D drawings and the advanced 3D BIM Models. Though they are predominant for design communication, they often only offer a limited sheltered glimpse of a full experience. What if you could experience beyond that? Virtual reality & Augmented reality brings the opportunity to bridge that communication gap in this fragmented industry.
For those to whom this technology is new, I will just brief you about the terminologies of AR & VR.
Virtual reality (VR)
It is a computer-generated environment that someone can explore and interact with. To put it in simple words - here, a user wearing a VR headset is immersed in the virtual environment to get a 360-degree view of the virtual world.
What if the physical environment is enhanced with the digital content, it is Augmented reality (AR). It allows the virtual elements or the information - to overlap in the real world. To experience AR, the user can use any digital screen, such as smartphones, tablets, etc.
AR VR usage is not so new, they have been in the gaming industry for quite some time. Outside of just the gaming and entertainment Industry, AR & VR Technology is productively being used in many industries,, listing out a few is
Manufacturing & Automobile
where it helps the vehicle manufacturers to optimize their assembly lines.
When it comes to surgery precision is very much important. AR healthcare software gives X-Ray vision directly to the surgeons, helping in locating any serious problems at a very early stage & hence saving lives.
Companies are driving the AR VR market in recent years, like if you see IKEA is already using AR for home goods and furniture retailing, allowing the customers to manipulate and place the goods at their home scale and thus attracting more consumers.
By making learning immersive, AR VR promotes student engagement and nurtures a better understanding of the subjects.
The biggest impact of AR/VR in real estate will be in “Virtual reality property tours”, the user will feel like he or she is in the actual physical home that is shown through the VR experience.
How AR & VR is being used in the Construction Industry
I will brief you stage wise. The three predominant phases of the lifecycle of any infrastructure are the design phase, on-field construction phase, and the operations and maintenance phase.
In Design phase
1. Visualize and interact with your design before constructing.
An Architect / Engineer can foresee and experience his design & can have a better understanding of buildings even before they are built. Virtual reality enables Architects/engineers to pre-visualize their design so that the output is suitable from all aspects, not only in functional but also in aesthetics. VR enables the designer to try & test different design permutations and combinations, Identify potential constructability issues, perform quick measurements, add notes, and document errors in real-time with the life-size, live model walkthroughs. VR also makes it easier for the client to understand the designs created. That means no more delays in the design approvals.
2. Collaboration within Teams
Collaboration with various project stakeholders or even within the team has always been a major issue in the construction industry. Virtual Reality makes it easy for the team members to collaborate and coordinate at a 1:1 scale and helps you go from design to construction more efficiently. We can share, communicate, and collectively interact in real-time with easy-to-understand visualizations. In the real world, immersive technologies have unearthed the power to solve key communication gaps.
Next comes the intermediate stage - On-field Construction Phase
1. Try and test in AR
The beauty of AR is, that the design output can be overlaid as the virtual content on the physical site environment. This enables us to Pre-check installation plans with the current as-built to identify potential clashes, Ensure accurate fit of the pre-fabricated parts - before sending the orders to manufacturers. Even the underground plumbing service markings, as you can see here, can be done accurately using the overlaying design model. Normally, concrete conflicts become a reality on the construction site, when the construction process is in progress. At that moment any eventual error reverts to additional cost and time delay, such boundary-pushing concepts can be tested and refined in this interactive virtual world, before committing to real-world construction.
2. Training the Construction Workers on Safety & the Work Process.
Construction workers can themselves get familiar with the work with the help of AR/VR devices on the construction site, where they can experience real-world situations without any of the associated safety risks, by using work instructions, prepared training sequences, or “remote assistance” directly from the experts, especially for prefabrication builds we can train new workers on how to assemble components in a digital environment, with this the employees get up to speed faster with fewer errors and more confidence during actual construction.
During the Operations and Maintenance phase.
1. Resolving Building Service request
AR & VR technology can also be used as an intelligent solution in operation and maintenance. Finnish company Granlund - Our esteemed partners in offering BIM for Facility Management, providing Energy management, maintenance management & asset management solutions, has developed the software which enables AR for FM.
Occupants of the building can raise any issues related to Building maintenance by Scanning QR codes from their mobile camera application.
We can add the issues, with a description - attach a photograph and submit the issue.
Since QR codes are location specific, we need not have to tag location, on receiving the Service request, the concerned team will launch the AR application. He can visualize Building Services in the application, He can click to get that asset or space information. can filter and select specific service requests based on priority & the application will guide him to the exact location, where he can act on the issue & mark it as Completed.
2. Tracking Above Ceiling or underfloor services - for any retrofit planning.
For the Pre Existing buildings undergoing renovation or carrying out retrofit activities, the hidden above the ceiling or the underfloor services, may it be HVAC, Electrical, Fire fighting, or PHE can be easily tracked with virtual models overlapped in the physical environment by using augmented reality. The system could project the maintenance history record and relevant maintenance manuals for an asset, whilst also displaying information regarding on-site parts.
We at Desapex have been investing in these tools and technology right from our inception, we use professional-grade AR & VR devices. And we have also set up Virtual Reality Labs for our clients in their facilities enabling them to experience their property with this amazing technology.
We believe, investing in digital technology and processes is not merely for ROI calculation for one of the use cases, but for organizational resilience and future-proofing, we are sure the data fabric will provide a large number of use cases over a period of time, and create more opportunities for business excellence.