Today, the construction industry is in dire need of modernization, and some would say that VR software development is one of the best paths forward. Though building materials, equipment, and safety practices have gone through big improvements over the last few decades, much of the work still remains hazardous, inefficient, and unappealing to new workers.
Construction workers are well aware of the problems plaguing the industry and have turned to VR as a solution. For example, a recent survey of 33 top UK construction companies found that 36% of them are open to implementing the technology in their operations.
If you are curious about using the technology in your business, you've come to the right place. We will be examining just how VR solves modern problems of construction and benefits businesses.
Want to know more about virtual reality?
A VR experience is a digital and visual simulation delivered via a special headsets, which runs software witha 3D environment, 3D objects and characters, as well as interactive options that can be accessed with tracked movements. You can learn more about VR from the series of published by Program-Ace.
How VR Solves Modern Problems of Construction
As you probably know, construction is not a single process but rather a whole set of stages that a project goes through. The remarkable thing about the VR approach is that it is not limited to a single step or stage, and can be used comprehensibly to solve the problems of different specialists in this field. Let’s take a closer look.
|Modeling and Architecture Problems|
|1. Reduce time spent on revisions|
|What is the problem: Creating 3D models for a building or compound is usually a lengthy and difficult process, especially if the model is initially based on an existing structure. Designers and architects can spend weeks making revisions and visiting a location just to get the right level of detail and accuracy in their model.||The solution: When the model is built for a VR experience with additional interactive options, this gives designers and modelers much more flexibility. They can test revisions relatively quickly without redoing major sections of a model and do not need to rely on visits to the site or reference materials as much given the realistic simulation they can use instead.|
|2. Provide content reusability|
|What is the problem: It can be quite challenging to set up an efficient cooperation flow between architects and those who take over the project after the 3D designs are complete. This is because the 3D designs are often made for a single purpose (e.g. presentation or testing), so adapting them to actual construction work and BIM (building information management) takes a lot of extra time.||The solution: Thankfully, models integrated into VR software have a much wider range of uses, and can be applied far beyond the first planning stages of a project. With a few tweaks, the software can be reused by construction crews, engineers, and other people involved in the project. Instead of one team discarding or redesigning 3D content, there can be a smooth passing of the torch.|
|On-Side Construction Problems|
|3. Make training safer|
|What is the problem: It is of utmost importance that construction workers are trained to recognize and avoid hazards on construction sites, minimize risk and follow safety procedures. However, giving this practical experience to new workers without putting them in physical danger can be difficult, and the training exercises often end up being dissimilar to the real-life experience.||The solution: Virtual reality safety training carries no physical risk or danger. As long as the simulation allows your staff to interact with the equipment, objects, and other features of their workplace, they can get the same muscle and visual memory or at least see events play out when they cannot fully perform the same movements with their hands. VR construction training can be done anywhere with no professional gear or equipment necessary.|
|4. Boost worker engagement|
|What is the problem: Motivation is an important factor to consider when it comes to the efficiency of construction workers. Sure, a good crew leader will keep his men in line and working hard, but workers who feel that their needs are not being taken care of have a tendency to work slower and less effectively.||The solution: At the very least, most people find participating in virtual experiences to be fun and interesting. When there is work involved, this element of curiosity and immersion does not go away, and workers appreciate the opportunity to work with such modern gadgets, especially if they help them carry out daily tasks.|
|5. Improve team coordination|
|What is the problem: One of the biggest obstacles to effective construction work is poor organization. It might occur due to professional incompetence, but oftentimes, more benign factors are to blame. For example, the workers might not have received enough reference materials about the building or not gone through a play-by-play of the work planned for the day.||The solution: A digital simulation is one of the best references and instruments you can give to specialists in this field. Not only can they learn the structure of a site inside and out, but they can also preview the tasks that they need to do and learn to work as a team before ever arriving at the site.|
|6. Save on costs and materials|
|What is the problem: There is a certain amount of waste and bloat in any construction project, but limiting it is crucial for businesses that need to make a profit, pay their workers, and get work done on time. Without proper planning of materials and project days, some materials end up wasted and unused while certain specialists can idle at times.||The solution: When the right interactive options are added (e.g. simulation of concrete work, wiring, etc.), construction crews can make accurate estimates about how many materials they will need before they buy them. Furthermore, the simulation can help them identify potential issues with the structure before they turn into tangible obstacles.|
|7. Make your presentations effective|
|What is the problem: Presentation is a crucial step towards project approval and financing, so it cannot be approached half-heartedly. Even if you have an amazing project idea and design, it can all fall through quickly if you cannot show it off from a realistic yet visually impressive perspective. Stakeholders and investors want to see as much detail and specifics as possible.||The solution: Immersive presentation is impressive in its own right, and gives a much better understanding of your project than you could give with a 3D render, paper model, or even an animated video. Letting possible stakeholders experience your vision in VR is an amazing way to put on a show. This is why it also makes sense to use VR for real estate practices.|
How is VR Used in Construction? Top Examples
All over the world, we can find numerous instances of businesses using VR technology to improve their operations, and the construction industry is no exception. Let’s examine some notable cases in this field.
1. Singapore business center
This facility was created in 3D in the application “BIM Visualization App” from Program-Ace. It features a large multi-story building featuring views of the exterior, interior structure, floor plan, electromechanical assets, and a walkthrough on the ground. The software addressed the needs of the business that was presenting the project as well as those who went on to work on it (engineers, construction crews, janitorial staff).
2. New Rochelle downtown improvements
New Rochelle is a mid-size city in New York whose leaders wanted to transform and invigorate their downtown area. They chose to do it in VR, creating a platform that visualized approximately 3 million square feet of improvements and renovations with a 360-degree view. Making the experience available to townsfolk (on headsets and mobile devices), the city planners gathered feedback about the many planned changes.
3. VR Hotel
This is another project from Program-Ace, featuring a large hotel building with an additional simulation of the hotel environment. This VR application was built for marketing purposes prior to construction, and implemented a range of helpful interactive features, such as navigation throughout the building, customization of room elements and furniture, and switching between day and night modes.
4. Hospital Nova
Nova is a large hospital in Finland nearing completion of construction. The company behind the project created a VR experience based on BIM, which had a significant impact on their project work. For example, the experience was made available to hospital staff, who then offered feedback and suggestions for design changes. It also allowed hospital staff to get acquainted with their new workplace beforehand and smoothen their adaptation.
5. Downtown resort
This is a pathfinding project developed by Program-Ace. Our company was contacted by a client who wanted to learn the feasibility of building a large resort in the downtown area of their city. We obliged and created a realistic site with multiple buildings and amenities. Walkthrough and limited interactive options were also implemented to augment the experience.
The Costs of VR in Construction
The costs of creating a VR experience are a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of construction projects, which often reaches millions or billions of dollars.
Some of the development costs include:
- Gathering visual references of a location (photo, video, drone footage, etc.)
- Buying and maintaining hardware (computers, servers, testing devices)
- Software licensing
- Paying developer/designers
While most of the listed costs do not cost more than $1K-2K, paying salaries to the team that builds your VR app will be much more expensive – usually in the realm of tens of thousands of USD. Some businesses choose to hire other firms and companies to handle the project when it is much more affordable and practical than hiring in-house.
Should You Use VR for Your Next Project? Let’s Review!
Even before VR became popular as a business solution, the construction industry already came to rely on BIM (which uses various software solutions), so VR apps seem like a natural extension of this trend. In the next few years, it should become even more apparent how virtual reality is changing architecture and adjacent industries.
Just to recap, businesses can get the following benefits of VR in construction:Cut construction costs and reduce waste
Conduct training safely and remotely
Speed up project planning
Boost worker engagement
Present and market their project with style
Even if VR development falls outside your company’s area of expertise, you should know that creating such an experience is absolutely accessible. Hundreds of software development companies with experience in immersive solutions are operating on the market today, and you can certainly find a reliable partner that offers VR construction services.
Don’t know where to start? You are welcome to contact us, and we will gladly discuss how your project can be brought to life. Program-Ace has a long history of building solutions for this industry, and it would be an honor for us to help you improve operations and achieve your project goals.