Wednesday 7 November 2018

Reducing design coordination errors with VR, AR

Editor's note: This piece was written by Jeff Jacobson, who runs a speciality firm ( applying virtual and augmented reality for technical applications, and Jim Dray, chief information officer at Thornton Tomasetti, an international engineering firm headquartered in New York.

Extending the BIM toolkit with virtual reality and augmented reality can help construction managers find and manage design coordination errors. Looking past the hype, practical VR and AR tools are available, and a number of construction companies are beginning to use them.

The construction industry is highly varied, but many segments are looking toward new technologies to improve productivity. This is being driven by increasing client demands, more complex designs and competitive pressures. There are dozens of examples of these shifts, ranging from increasing use of design-build contracts to reuse of standard design components to factoring stakeholder and sustainability requirements into every element of the work.

The traditional handoff between architects, engineers and builders pressures the architect to have the first draft complete and correct. For big projects, this is impossible because it requires perfect knowledge of current and future conditions. The result is expensive change orders, conflict and potentially litigation.

The best approach is a technology strategy that is workable for all parties. However, expertise is uneven, there are few standards, and sometimes it is unclear who should lead and if the client will pay the bill even if the benefit is obvious. In these situations, new technologies, such as advanced BIM, AR/VR, robotics and off-site construction, may feel risky. It’s important to de-risk these newer technologies and put them into practical use.

Current ways of detecting problems

One of the most obvious problems within a design is when two parts of the design conflict with each other (called a "clash”), like when the HVAC and electrical systems are routed through the same space. Just as devastating, and harder to detect, can be a gap in the design when something is supposed to be there but isn’t.

How do you find these problems? Here are some ways:

  • The traditional way: Just eyeball the design — a lot. Overlay documents and have experienced people do a quality check.
  • Use something like Navisworks to automatically detect clashes for you. That works well for certain types of clashes, as long as the BIM model is well constructed and the elements have the right metadata (not just dimensions but also constraints like clearances). Although this helps you find the clashes, it does not to resolve them.
  • Use LIDAR to scan the construction site, import the resulting point cloud into Revit (or a similar 3D-BIM modelling program), and line it up with the design. This approach is time-consuming but useful, especially in retrofits or complex construction jobs. In most cases, though, if you don’t discover a problem until you are out in the field, it is much more difficult and expensive to fix it.
Detecting clashes is hard work. BIM and related approaches make it easier, but even with high-end specialists and the right planning, you still have gaps and risks. Something more effective is needed.

Solution: Design review using interactive VR 

One solution is to view the model in VR, which lets you inhabit the design, move around inside it, and feel like you are there. More importantly, everyone seeing the VR model will interpret the space in much the same way. In a sense, VR allows the author to control the message.

Reblogged from: Reducing design coordination errors with VR, AR. (2018). Construction Dive. Retrieved 2 November 2018, from

1 comment:

  1. Good information... By using augment reality and virtual reality, we can make the design process easily and also get a great results.
    VR real estate
    VR architecture