Breaking Ground and Barriers with Virtual Design and Construction
What is Virtual Design and Construction or VDC?
VDC is a smarter way to approach infrastructure projects. We use integrated building information modelling (BIM) models to guide the whole life cycle of a project and track actual progress against expected results. The digital assets developed during the planning, design, building and construction of the project can then be carried into operation to make sure the infrastructure assets are performing efficiently and effectively.
Where do you already use VDC?
We are using the VDC approach on many of our projects today. As a design example, we are using 3D models to produce contract drawings and perform design reviews on our projects. On the construction side, we are using 3D models to coordinate work with trade contractors and perform quality assurance/quality control verification of a survey layout before it is installed in the field. Our challenge is to plan properly, documenting our plan versus what actually happens, then engaging our external partners to adopt these new processes when they add mutual benefit to a project.
How does VDC improve the design and construction process?
On some of the more complex design-build projects, anywhere between 25 to 30 different models can be developed by various parties throughout the life cycle of the project; yet we don’t fully leverage them. The VDC approach takes the data from these models, combines them into one dynamic model that evolves throughout each phase of the project. By combining input from the engineers’ designs to construction staff tracking constructability issues or sub-contractors who’ve modelled their contract work, we will create an accurate digital version of the actual structures and systems to be built. Each team member will have a mutual understanding of the current state of the project and can make better informed decisions.
Why is this significant for our industry?
VDC gives us the opportunity to be predictive rather than reactive. We will start each project with a VDC Execution Plan which will communicate the 3D model uses to all stakeholders. This feeds downstream uses such as mixed reality tools like the Microsoft HoloLens to identify clashes and tweak our design to best fit the needs of the project. What is more, teams using the VDC approach on projects have the advantage of being able to resolve issues immediately because they have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips and can immediately manipulate their 3D model to adjust for design and construction changes.