Virtual Reality in construction is a technology that improves design, safety and training in the AEC sector. Here’s how to use it
Although in recent years in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) sector numerous improvements have been made to building materials, equipment and safety procedures, many processes still remain inefficient and dangerous.
Therefore, there are many construction entrepreneurs and workers who want to optimize and transform their activities by experimenting with new technologies: it’s among them that virtual reality, which can be considered the next step to 3D modeling, is spreading.
Today, thanks to virtual reality and innovative online applications, it is even possible to view real-time renderings of 3D models directly from the browser. Try browsing your projects online with immersive virtual reality with a virtual reality software!
But let’s now focus on what Virtual Reality is in construction, when to use it and what benefits it offers.
What is virtual reality in the construction industry?
Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that was created mainly for the gaming industry, but has also been spreading in the construction industry for some time.
VR has the ability to create a digital environment that replaces the real one, through which to simulate a building, a space or a structure where users can move and interact thanks to headsets or controllers.
How many times are the workers of a company forced to interrupt the constructive process for the detection of interference and problems that lead to re-evaluate the design decisions? How many times is the customer not satisfied with the construction process?
These days, technology has made giant leaps towards the future of design of the building industry, highly reducing the effort needed to create a precise and coherent BIM model. No AEC professionals can take a virtual tour to identify the potential conflicts before works even start, or even simulate work spaces to train workers and increase their level of attention in terms of safety risks.
How is virtual reality used in the construction sector?
There are numerous virtual reality applications in the construction sector:
- representation and virtual viewing of a construction project;
- collaborative virtual reality experiences;
- virtual visits to the construction site;
- more efficient and safer training of construction workers;
- better construction management.
Representation and virtual viewing experiences of a construction project
More and more architects and engineers are using the BIM methodology to create an information model that accompanies everyone involved across all project levels and allows all parties involved to demonstrate that all the required technical specifications have been met.
Virtual reality makes a BIM model much more accurate and easier to view: instead of looking at scale models on your computer screen, builders and architects now have the opportunity to work with life-size structures in a VR environment.
VR technology can be applied in new construction interventions already during the architectural design phase, but also for interventions on existing buildings.
In this case, one of the best ways to build VR models, starting from the surveyed area, is by using LIDAR, which not only offers better accuracy at lower costs, but it allows you to transfer all survey data directly into a BIM (Scan to BIM) model.
Collaborative Virtual Reality Experiences
All construction projects involve numerous stakeholders who often work at different times of the day and are not always present on site at the same time. The Collaboration and Development of a shared project are necessary for the success of any type of project.
Virtual reality allows participants, no matter where they are, to meet virtually, coordinate projects, check for updates, spot problems, and make changes.
Virtual visits to the site
You’re often faced with a large project or you build in difficult to manage or remote sites and not always contractors and technicians are in a position to frequently check how works are progressing. Virtual Reality gives teams the ability to “see” a project site without even being there in first person.
A combination of VR technology and 3D cameras enables any supervisor to control a workplace in the real world, even hundreds of miles away, just using a mobile device.
This means that site-related activities are much more flexible, the workflow is not interrupted and this leads to consequent savings in implementation times.
More effective and safer training of construction workers
Virtual reality can be used to simulate the workspaces of a construction site to provide training and support workers in the field of health and safety.
From within the construction site, you can place the BIM model of the construction to be built so that workers already have an idea of the spaces they’ll be occupying and also compare it to the work schedules and planned activities.
By virtually immersing themselves in the construction site, they’ll be able to become familiar with the processes and identify the most complex steps. By practicing in a simulated environment, they will be able to acquire knowledge and skills without any of the consequences of the real world.
Better construction management
Taking virtual tours of the building, while it’s being built, are much more informative than looking at simple 2D drawings.
By analysing every corner of future constructions and every possible problem, it is possible to develop a better management of the construction project while remaining in line with all interested stakeholders and avoiding:
- cost increases and payments;
Virtual Reality in construction: the 7 main benefits for the AEC sector
The 7 main benefits of using virtual reality in the AEC sector are:
- time savings and costs in project development;
- improvement of team collaboration and coordination;
- increasing the level of involvement of workers;
- the acceleration of project planning;
- strong improvements in construction site safety;
- the development of better training material for workers;
- increases in construction quality.
How do we start using Virtual Reality in construction?
Starting to use VR in your projects is not difficult and not as expensive as expected. In fact, there are many affordable solutions that can be used with your smartphone that allow you to start developing monitoring activities.
There are many companies that use it regularly too; remaining competitive in todays AEC industry means that you need to stay tuned with the latest technologies.
Not sure where to start?
- try usBIM.reality, for free online – A VR platform with which to browse your construction projects directly from your browser;
- try a virtual reality software for construction that allows you to model your construction site in 3D BIM and virtually experience it to ensure your work teams total safety during work operations.