Due to the increased level of technology being implemented in new facilities, state-of- the-art methods of construction, and accelerated timelines in which projects are being designed and built, construction projects are becoming increasingly complicated. It is more important than ever to achieve a high level of communication between the design team, owner, project stakeholders, equipment suppliers and contractors.
When Building Information Modeling (BIM) was first formally introduced in 2002, the industry took a huge step in improving and strengthening the ties between designer, contractor, and facility operator. Now, Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) takes BIM to the next level by utilizing 3D modeling to enhance design-build team collaboration. Being able to visualize the final product in a virtual 3D environment helps the team understand the various design challenges and resolve coordination issues before they become costly change orders during construction.
VDC utilizes input from the entire project team to make certain the best, most efficient and cost effective solutions have been explored and implemented prior to starting construction. All team members, including stakeholders, have the opportunity to explore the 3D environment to identify things that could impact the project. These "clash detection" sessions are used to coordinate the various disciplines in regard to the placement of building components. VDC also enables the building owner/tenant to get a sense of the space and how it functions and "feels", allowing them to make critical decisions before construction begins. VDC and Virtual Reality (VR) model generation give team members the opportunity to walk through the 3D environment with a full 360 degree range of motion.
Various design software programs such as Revit, NavisWorks, Plant 3D, Inventor, Timeliner, etc. can be used to simulate real-world conditions. Additionally, 3D point cloud scanning can be used where complicated or intricate building components and process equipment may be critical to the design. This can add another level of realism to the 3D model by incorporating the existing as-built conditions into the virtual world in colorful detail and with pinpoint accuracy.
With VDC, the design team is not only able to make better decisions regarding building systems and components, but they are also able to work closely with the contractor on design-build delivery projects to make better, more cost effective decisions regarding the construction planning. VDC can also benefit the contractor and owner in constructability reviews as well as scheduling the sequence of delivery and placement of major components on the critical path.
Architects, engineers and contractors on design-build delivery projects have a common goal to work together as a team to save time, reduce costs, and find the most efficient way to approach every part of the project. Utilizing 3D modeling for planning and problem solving before construction starts is quickly becoming the industry standard. VDC's holistic team approach improves quality, promotes cost savings, and helps the team achieve successful project delivery.
By Bryan Autullo, PMP
Facilities Design Group, Director of Operations
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