There has been a lot of discussion, (including from myself) about how construction is becoming aligned with more digitally advanced industries – but what does that look like on the ground through the construction lifecycle?
The use of the simple tape measure is an example of an analogue process which I have referred to in the past that is due a digital update. But there are many more examples of where digital construction can be used more effectively throughout an entire project, and more than I can fit into this one article.
In the design phase, a lot is already happening digitally with the creation of 3D data-rich models, but this has historically still relied on 2D drawings for reference. Over the past few years in many parts of the world, this mind-set has changed and it is more common to see 3D models supported by reality capture tools to ensure they reflect the real-world. The scan to BIM service industry is one that has grown rapidly and is now an established part of the process. These tools however have been under-utilised in later phases of the project, for physical clash detection (does that component fit there?) or construction validation (is that component in the right location?). These also connect back to the BIM process, potentially revealing costly issues, resolving problems or simply confirming plans.
During the construction phases, the combined design and reality data I mention above can be taken back to site in the form of a digital model. Extracting 2D CAD from 3D models is now no longer a requirement, contractors and sub-contractors can use 3D object models with layout and positioning tools to see data graphically, and ensure the project is positioned and constructed in the right location and to specification. This 3D data is also being used on a growing number of infrastructure projects within machine-control systems. Plant equipment from large-scale drilling rigs to excavators can be guided and controlled on site by technology with precision accuracy for more efficient ways of working.
By embracing digital tools and BIM, everyone involved in the project can increase productivity, health and safety standards, and deliver projects that are accurate, to budget and timescale through collaborative sharing of information. What’s not to like?
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