Connect the Office and the Field with Mixed Reality

October 8, 2020 Jordan Lawver

Getting teams in the office and in the field on the same page can be a major challenge. Designers and engineers working with 3D models may not have access to actual site conditions. At the same time, crews working onsite may not understand the design intent, or may see discrepancies between the model and site conditions that they can’t easily communicate. What’s often missing is that project stakeholders can’t “see” and experience the project in the same way.

Mixed reality (MR) technology, like the Trimble XR10 with HoloLens 2, can help everyone involved achieve a shared understanding of the project. Through integrated collaboration software, like Trimble Connect, teams in the office can easily share BIM data with workers in the field. Using the XR10’s rich visualization capabilities, workers can then view and interact with the 3D content overlaid onto the actual project. You’re able to maximize the value of BIM models by bringing them directly to the jobsite instead of downgrading them to 2D plans.

When workers can visualize the project in detail and in context, they understand the work site better and how systems and installations relate to each other. They can also raise any questions or concerns, giving teams in the office the ability to respond and address potential problems in a timely manner and keep better tabs on issues that have come up.

By increasing communication and project understanding among the many people involved in a construction project, mixed reality is helping forward-thinking teams close the gaps between the field and office

Want to see how mixed reality can connect your teams and workflows?
Watch the webinar.

 

4 Ways to Connect the Field and Office with Mixed Reality

1. Clarify design intent & improve project understanding

Trades and crews in the field aren’t typically involved in the design phase. As a result, when it’s time to build or install onsite, confusion about the design can hold up construction and lead to delays. This is a common problem that’s exacerbated when teams are working in traditional siloes, each focused on their own workflows without a holistic understanding of the project.

With MR, you can effectively convey and clarify the design intent for everyone involved. During pre-construction walkthroughs, you can show workers the 3D model overlaid onto the site and encourage them to ask questions to improve their understanding. They may even notice potential deviations or clashes, helping you address and resolve issues earlier in the process. Then once construction is underway, you can continue to use MR to democratize the model and help teams understand what they’re collaboratively building. When teams have a shared understanding of the end result, they can work together more effectively and efficiently.  

2. Avoid clashes & reduce rework

If there’s one constant, it’s change. This is particularly true of construction projects. The design is constantly changing during construction and sometimes faster than teams can react to. 

For example, a change order may be needed, but the VDC department needs time to make it. Instead of delaying the schedule, the field crew may wing it, which ends up creating a ripple effect of on-the-fly workarounds. If the resulting discrepancies between the model and as-builts aren’t documented and communicated, it can lead to major system clashes and other potentially costly problems and disputes. Furthermore, the sheer volume of people involved increases the likelihood that everyone sees the project a little differently and specific to their role.

With MR, you increase collaboration between teams to facilitate clash detection and faster problem-solving. As onsite teams are working, they can notice and resolve sudden issues and visualize how new changes fit into actual site conditions, avoiding a series of workarounds that can cause bigger problems later. When project stakeholders have a shared visual understanding of the project, they can coordinate more effectively and avoid the clashes and mistakes that delay schedules and result in more change orders, RFIs, and rework.

3. Remotely monitor projects & assist work crews

In times of heightened risk, such as a health crisis, the number of workers allowed on a jobsite may need to be limited. This makes it much more difficult for workers to get help when they need it. Supervisors or skilled experts who can’t be onsite lack the visibility to effectively communicate with those in the field or help address and solve problems.

With the help of remote-assist applications, workers can use the MR device to share existing conditions with those not on the job site. Off-site personnel, like project managers or VDC designers, can see the model overlaid on the actual site directly from their computer screen so they’re seeing the same information the on-site team is. Workers can get the answers and support they need in real-time to complete work without delay. Similarly, distant team members and those working remotely can avoid undue safety risks and unnecessary travel while staying connected and tuned in to the jobsite. 

4. Optimize prefabrication & guide onsite assembly  

Construction contractors use prefabrication to improve productivity and save costs. But the success of prefab depends on both the accuracy of the design and an understanding of how prefab components will fit with the existing environment. Teams also need to be able to interpret the model or design while onsite to correctly install or assemble prefabricated components.

With MR, you can further leverage BIM to optimize prefabrication. Instead of using 2D plans that are hard to interpret, teams can access and use easier-to-visualize 3D project data at the work site. The model can be overlaid on the exact location and position to guide and verify the work, minimizing errors that waste time and materials. You can even use MR to guide step-by-step sequencing for greater efficiency and accuracy. 

To see how mixed reality can be incorporated
into your workflows, watch the video.

 

Connect Workers and Workflows with Mixed Reality

Mixed reality extends BIM by making it accessible and useful in the field, not just in the office. With the combined capabilities of the Trimble XR10 with HoloLens 2 and Trimble Connect, you can pave the way for connected construction by giving all project stakeholders an unprecedented understanding of the project and shared access to the same up-to-date project data. When everyone is on the same page, they can communicate and collaborate more easily. 

By sharing 3D content back and forth between teams in the field and office, you can: 

  • Improve design reviews
  • Solve problems earlier
  • Manage workflows and phases remotely
  • Plan projects more effectively 
  • Optimize prefabrication and fabrication

To learn more about how mixed reality unlocks the power of BIM data across construction workflows, watch the webinar.

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