Recent supply chain challenges caused by COVID have increased costs for major construction projects, creating an urgent need for companies to utilise faster and more efficient ways of building. Some of the new and innovative digital transformation technologies that can help optimise construction include BIM, modular construction, additive manufacturing, big data, augmented reality, robotics, IoT and virtual twins.
In order to keep up with increasing demand, Australia’s construction industry can no longer rely on labour intensive 2D methods to support construction, as they run the risk of creating unnecessary design transactions, or can lack the information consistency needed on projects.
Virtual twins and 3D modelling on the other hand can improve manufacturing and construction efficiency and speed up processes. A virtual simulation of a construction project can identify any potential issues or risks companies might face in the field.
These risks can be fixed or mitigated before construction begins, avoiding costly delays. 3D processes can be used in every step of a project’s lifecycle; from design and construction, through to operations and maintenance.
In the recent series of webinars Smart Construction Rendez-vous, run by global leader in 3D design and engineering software Dassault Systèmes, Global Strategic Business Development Director, Prashanth Mysore, outlined the construction simulation technologies that can help accelerate projects, increase construction predictability and improve long-term value for project owners as well as profitability for project contributors.
“Our experience says that 80-85 per cent of project challenges occur in the execution/construction side, compared to 10-15 per cent during planning, so there is an opportunity for construction companies to take advantage of the benefits of emerging technologies like smart construction,” Mr Mysore said.
“It is expected there will be a wider use of technology in construction and construction management in the future, as companies realise the long-term benefits on productivity, efficiency and cost savings.”
Smart construction and simulation technologies accelerating projects
Building information modelling (BIM)
BIM creates a digital prototype of an actual building or asset before it’s built. This enables the consolidation of information relating to the design, simulation, project management and construction functionality.
All stakeholders – designers, contractors, suppliers etc. – can access the latest update of the project in 3D, allowing for faster decision-making between all participants collaborating on a single project.
Virtual twin experience for construction monitoring
Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform is essentially a unified digital cockpit that monitors construction execution so companies can make informed decisions.
It can connect and collect data from machines, equipment and facilities on construction sites, enabling managers to dramatically improve construction performance by accelerating identification of errors and subsequently fixing errors using collected real-time data.
It is a true virtual twin experience model, monitoring live and capturing data that can be used later in operations and maintenance phases.
The platform is a lifecycle management system so it not only includes 3D models, but also the project information, simulations and all of
the project data in one single source.
Modular construction with 5D
Modular construction is best practice for the manufacturing industry and involves constructing sections off-site then delivering to the location. The 5D methodology for modular construction is essentially an integrated simulation of 3D plus time plus cost.
It involves the simultaneous process of creating models while the site work is occurring, with the basis of prefabricated construction being the initial design in 3D. BIM is also used to ensure suitability of the location and the design requirements.
Modular construction allows developers and contractors to deliver shorter timelines with less risk, with techniques reducing the length of construction schedule by up to 50 per cent.
3D printing/additive manufacturing
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is currently gaining traction in the industry as it allows you to create construction components or modular parts of buildings.
Construction is well suited for 3D printing as the information needed to create a part already exists in the 3D BIM design. It allows for faster and more accurate construction of complex or bespoke items, lowering labour costs and producing less waste.
Big data and predictive analytics
Big data can support fast, accurate decision-making from multiple data sources in real time, making construction sites smarter and improving productivity.
For example, when it comes to maintenance and operations, 3D contextualisation of IoT data can help identify specific issues on-site.
Using in-built machine learning algorithms, data scientists can identify a piece of equipment that is causing a maintenance issue. The maintenance log inside Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform helps to identify particular equipment that is causing production stoppages, with the data able to be compared with sensor and historical data.
With in-built machine learning and AI algorithms, companies can pre-emptively identify issues with various equipment within maintenance and operations phases.
Augmented reality and VR
Mr Mysore said for an industry that has been notoriously slow to accept technology changes, construction is actually an early adopter of two of the most advanced technologies in existence – augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These technologies can visualise blueprints, maximise efficiency and improve workplace health and safety.
VR is used by developers to review real 3D environments of architectural designs. By using a combination of BIM and immersive VR headsets, architects, project managers, civil engineers and the whole project team can identify design flaws and better plan construction projects before they begin.
AR is used by project managers on-site to ensure a structure is being built exactly as the design intended, rather than just using line of sight to confirm. This significantly speeds up projects and minimises errors.
Autonomous construction is the use of advanced robotics to replace or improve existing processes, making them more efficient and accurate.
Mr Mysore said robotics aren’t playing a huge role in construction right now but this will soon change, so companies should get on board early. With the industry facing increasing pressure to construct quickly and in a more reliable and safer way, this is where robots can be useful.
IIoT and execution monitoring
IoT plays an important role as it can connect sites, enhance safety, reduce accidents and improve work processes. Sensors connected to the internet can continuously monitor and manage critical resources at construction sites such as electrical systems and various mobile resources in real time.
IoT is commonly used to monitor machines around the site and track progress of work. Sensors mounted on construction equipment and safety hats worn by construction professionals also help optimise the utilisation of manpower and physical assets.
As illustrated, there are a number of constantly evolving technologies available to construction companies and by using smart and lean construction methods, companies can become more flexible and agile, and better prepared for future disruptions they may face.
This partner content is brought to you by Dassault Systèmes. For more information on these technologies and Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform, please visit https://ifwe.3ds.com/construction-cities-territories.