How Virtual Reality Helps to Build Smarter

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Construction is one of the biggest industries on Earth, with its size expected to reach a whopping $10.5 trillion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2018 to 2023. Which is not surprising as there will always be steady demand for construction services all around the globe, stimulating this industry to grow and develop, quickly adopting new technologies. 

Technological advances in construction allowed this industry to evolve, keeping up with the times. Compared to the way construction was done just a couple of decades ago, today, almost everything is different. Technological innovations allowed construction companies to adopt better materials, improve the speed of construction, produce less building-site waste and make worksites safer. 

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are examples of a technology that is being increasingly adopted by the construction industry. These can be extremely helpful when applied to any stage of the construction process, from architectural design and engineering to the actual building process and maintenance. 

Here are a few examples of how VR/AR technologies are empowering the construction industry. 

Image Credit: PaleBlue
Photo Credit: PaleBlue
Safety and skill training

VR can be used to conduct accessible, simple to organize and affordable construction worker training of various types, including safety procedures, familiarization and specialized skill training. The ability to host these events in a virtual reality environment allows construction companies to prepare their employees for potentially dangerous and hazardous work without putting people’s health at risk. Another major benefit of VR/AR is preventing expensive equipment and materials from being damaged. 

Architectural design and engineering

When utilised during the architectural design and engineering stage, VR can both improve the quality of the outcome and speed up the process. Deploying building prototypes in a virtual environment is the most cost-effective way to test and assure the quality of the project. Testing building engineering systems in VR allows construction companies to run multiple clash detection tests to reduce hard and soft clashes of electrical systems, plumbing, and other structural components of a building. 

Construction equipment training

VR can be truly an indispensable solution when it comes to learning how to operate complex construction equipment, such as building cranes, excavators, bulldozers, etc., as employees are able to learn and practice operating these machines in virtual reality as long as they need, perfecting their skills to optimize the usage of such equipment during the actual construction. 

VR would also be a go-to answer to improving the quality of following construction disciplines that are considered to be challenging due to complexity and potential health and safety issues. Lifting is an example of such a discipline. VR lifting simulators, which have been used for a number of years by the energy industry, are now actively adopted by the construction industry as well.  

Photo Credit: PaleBlue
Building maintenance

Even in building maintenance VR has a number of incredibly useful applications. When connected to the actual equipment, virtual environments can be used to follow various types of construction-related data in real time. With AR technologies, it is possible to build an application showing “see-through walls” on the screen, used to quickly identify piping and electrical systems on the actual building. In the same way, Augmented Reality can be utilised for building renovation and modification projects, allowing users to add new elements that are about to be constructed laid out on top of the old building. 

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