Rise of virtual and augmented reality technology in construction management
Though the construction industry is often thought of as being slow to adopt technology, the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) has taken a growing role as part of the construction management team.
As Mike Hayes reported for International Construction, “Changes are not only happening at the design and preparation stage of projects – they’re in operation on jobsites with in-the-field teams benefiting from the latest available technology.”
VR and AR are being used in construction at all stages – from planning to engineering to on-site assembly.
One software product, designed by Liebherr, is used in conjunction with the company’s cranes, to determine both the best crane for a specific job and the preferred position for a crane at various points of use.
SiteVision uses augmented reality and satellite location data to “check the viability of new designs and alterations, as well as checking progress and identifying issues during the construction phase,” says Hayes.
Using existing building information modelling (BIM) or computer aided design (CAD), SiteVision is loaded onto an Android phone and overlays planned projects overtop of a real-world construction site. This can help identify any potential issues with existing utilities or other structures.
Another often used capability of AR is creating a “digital twin” or digital replica of a construction site.
“In effect, they bridge the physical and virtual world and, as data from the physical entity is transmitted to its digital model, the two effectively co-exist as twins,” says Hayes. “In this way, engineers can test real-world scenarios on the ‘twin’, assessing its efficiency, resistance to damage, and so on.”
A primary benefit of AR and VR is that both technologies help to improve safety. Testing crane maneuvers in the virtual space can prevent dangerous situations from occurring on a work site. Using VR with employees to familiarize them with work sites or procedures may prevent injuries and give a new perspective on possible safety concerns.
The trend of construction management is leading toward creating a wholly digital work site before actual building begins. Any emerging construction managers will need to have a solid background in both traditional construction management methods and new technology.
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