Commonly associated with gaming, virtual reality (VR) has been slowly but surely revolutionizing almost every industry in the most unimaginable ways. The mind boggles every time it finds newer and more innovative applications. Little did we know that it could also become a part of a construction company’s toolbox.
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Virtual reality in construction is revealing itself to be quite the gamechanger with its capability of offering helpful, immersive experiences. In this article, we will explore how virtual reality in construction is already saving truckloads of time and money for construction companies and the immense future possibilities of this recent development.
Enhancing Construction Visualization and Communication
Construction projects are a lengthy and costly undertaking. Construction companies typically invest a huge amount of time and effort to understand what their clients need, in order to come as close as possible to deliver what their clients expect.
Even when they finally begin construction, issues that were not very obvious in the planning and design stages inevitably arise. The project is then halted to reconsider and reassess the design. This leads to a further investment of time and also money.
For as long as one can remember, one of the first stages in construction is using tools that help visualize, model and analyze the project. A variety of tools have been used over the years, right from pen-and-paper drawings to scaled mock-ups to more recent practices of using CAD software to recreate objects in a three-dimensional environment and Building Information Modeling (BIM).
However, none of these tools can provide the experience of an actual, completed building. This often leads to a disconnect between the client’s vision and the designer’s interpretation of that vision.
Virtual Reality (VR) in Construction
With virtual reality, 3D models can be transformed into an experience. You could walk into the model, explore and see the design up close. You could make changes and check the results in real-time. You can spot potential issues even before the first brick is laid and eventually create better projects, saving much time and money in the long run.
With virtual reality in construction, builders and architects are no longer restricted to the soon-to-be-obsolete scale models on computer screens or physical scale models. Instead, they can work with full-scale structures in the VR environment.
What’s more? Construction companies are free to innovate and develop new materials and construction methods and test them in a more cost-effective and safer environment.
Benefits of Virtual Reality(VR) in Construction
Virtual reality software is changing the construction industry rapidly. Let us discuss how:
1. More Collaboration
Collaboration is crucial in any construction project. Design is not arbitrarily created by an architect or an engineer. Clients must collaborate with engineers or architects so that the initial design matches their vision. The builder must work with the architect and the client to determine how much of the client’s vision can be practically achieved.
When expectations are set clearly, builders can provide clients with accurate quotes and also advise them on the project based on their own expertise. By being able to see a construction project in a virtual space, collaboration becomes far more effective.
Collaboration may not just be limited to the client, architect, engineer and the builder. Suppose that they all are working together to build a new office space. With virtual reality, a client may even invite a few of his key employees to experience the project virtually so that he can take their inputs into consideration.
If you are on a tight budget, as is the case with most construction projects, virtual reality can improve field scheduling in the construction industry and help builders keep up with deadlines. Immersive VR project reviews eliminate the need for too many meetings and streamline coordination. All the stakeholders are on the same page and any ambiguity is effectively minimized.
With virtual reality in construction, people can collaborate with each other like never before. As technology improves, it will become common for people to be able to walk in and view the space exactly as it will look when it is ready. They will even be able to make adjustments such as changing the color of the walls and rearranging the furniture.
2. Effective Training
Construction is a risky business and involves heavy equipment such as cranes. It involves dangerous jobs and the smallest mistakes could result in the loss of life.
It is not just crucial to train people, but it is important to train them well. However, it may be far less expensive and a lot safer to train people in a virtual environment rather than the real world.
Virtual reality is widely being used across industries for professional training. More and more construction companies are embracing this trend as well.
Most knowledge that people graduating from engineering or architecture schools have is theoretical. Many of them may have not even seen a construction site at all during the course of their education.
As a result, most engineers and architects that are in the early stages of their career have a limited understanding of the actual work that goes into bringing their designs to life.
Virtual reality can be used to provide practical training to engineers and architects on the various aspects involved in the construction process to enhance their expertise and deliver more functional designs.
3. Real-Life Examples of Virtual Reality in Construction
The construction industry is slowly but surely embracing virtual reality. Watch some of these videos to learn how industry leaders like JLL Properties and Gilbane Building Company are taking that leap:
4. Improved Customer Experience
Virtual reality in construction is redefining the customer experience. Real-estate investments are considerably high. Not all customers feel comfortable in investing in projects that are under construction. They want to see what they will get.
Virtual reality improves customer experience significantly. More and more builders are using virtual reality to show customers what their homes will look like once they are ready. In other words, customers are able to experience the home before they purchase it. Standard 3D models make it very difficult for customers to see themselves in that home.
We have already discussed how virtual reality in construction can empower people with choices. When customers can walk into a what will be their home even before it has been built and change the colors of the walls, add appliances and furniture and other such things, it becomes far easier for them to visualize themselves in that home.
As a result, they are able to pick a home that perfectly matches their expectations. It is no secret that customization elevates the customer experience. Improved customer experience is, therefore, one of the biggest USPs of virtual reality in construction.
In a competitive space such as the construction industry, excellent customer experience can provide companies with that all-important competitive edge.
The Future of Virtual Reality in Construction
Virtual reality in construction is a fairly recent development. The technology is yet in its nascent stages but is already showing great promise. It may not be perfect right now, but as was the case with most of the other industries, virtual reality in construction will get there sooner than you can ask “When?”. Construction companies are only just beginning to see the value of virtual reality software in construction.
Sooner or later, all construction projects will be conceived and built using virtual reality. It is safe to assume that in the future no construction project will be started prior to being developed in the virtual space.
Virtual reality has already begun to and will also continue to increasingly mitigate risk and uncertainty and minimize waste and rework in the construction industry.
Due to the reduced risk and uncertainty, virtual reality will make construction projects more attractive to investors and increase the flow of capital for real estate developers.
Investors will slowly but surely only invest in projects that use virtual reality so that they earn their return within a predictable timeframe.
Climate change and the threat to the environment is a grim reality plaguing the entire world. The construction industry has been identified as one of the key culprits of this predicament.
An exciting possibility of using virtual reality in construction is that construction companies will be able to develop and test more sustainable construction materials and even methods that do not harm the environment. Hopefully, in the future, we will see builders using virtual reality construction software to build eco-friendly estates.
Virtual reality in construction is emerging as a powerful tool to streamline the design process, increase collaboration between real estate developers and clients and enhance customer satisfaction.
It can positively differentiate your business from other companies. As more construction companies wake up to the benefits of using virtual reality, the technology is all set to find newer and exciting applications in the industry.
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