Best Office Setups for Virtual Design Construction (VDC) CoordinationSeptember 9, 2019
With the growing adoption of BIM (Building Information Modelling) in the last decade, construction methodologies have seen an evolution towards lean construction and integrated project delivery. This entails the need for collaborative software, digitalisation of information, along with new organisational space approaches that are in tune to the Virtual Design Construction (VDC) coordination framework.
#1: Co-located BIG Room
As construction projects grow increasingly more complex, in both scale and technical specifications. The coordination process of many smaller teams become increasingly tedious with much time spend on RFIs (Request for information).
This is where the the Big Room has the most value. It brings on-site co-location space that physically brings together designers, builders, and other stakeholders to work together, where members are literally able to turn to one another to get key information.
The Big Room provides many benefits, both directly and indirectly. First and foremost, through the dynamics of co-location the breakdown of individual team silos reinforces a common project identity. This helps members develop a common understanding of project goals and in turn decisions are made for the good of the project instead of short-term fragmented team benefits.
Also, the flow of information can be analysed, allowing the BIG Room to be further improved on for future projects. For example, the seismic restraint designer might frequently have RFIs with the Pneumatic Tube Engineer in particular and thus a closer proximity or “betweenness” would help as a common metric for improvements.
Lastly, such a setup helps project managers make overall processes more efficient, saving on both time and resources. While alerting managers to potential communication breakdowns early before an issue becomes a costly mistake in the construction cycle.
#2: Dedicated BIM Coordination Room
While some offices may be limited by layout or resources to initiate a co-located BIG room, they can still benefit from such a methodology by converting a meeting room into a dedicated coordination space.
This is a room where the project team and stakeholders can come together to resolve a specific problem through the use of a virtual model. A minimum of 2 large projectable screens would be ideal for projection of multiple model information, while large writing spaces on walls, such as SMART Boards would further aid pull planning and other lean process exercises.
Virtual Reality BIM softwares which allow for intuitive BIM manipulation and object data inspection would also enable stakeholders to communicate and discuss more complex problems that traditional 2D screens are not able to, due to the lack of depth and 1:1 perspective.
This further encourages ICE (Integrated Concurrent Engineering) sessions in such a setup, with intuitive and easy to implement workflows that enhance current processes of coordination.
#3: Virtual BIG Room
With the rise of international projects teams and advancements in technology, alternatives to physical co-location is actually a possibility and at times even a necessity.
In order for teams to work collaboratively in real-time, common data environments (cloud networks) would have to be leveraged; where the virtual models and project information would be synced across all visualisation and communication platforms.
An example of this would be VRcollab’s LITE multiuser functionality, which allows participants to be in the build design together before the first brick is laid. Participants can navigate, draw model information for model interrogation, while annotating decisions made for further iteration of the BIM design.
For such an environment, the key things to look for when considering the different softwares and platforms would be to validate if they provide real-time communication, allow for a centrally hosted-model with secure access to project data, while ideally enabling for multiple parties to be updating the model at once remotely.
#BONUS: Field Environment
A good field environment streamlines the BIM to Field information flow and vice versa. Setting up this sort of environment requires real time information and usually involves mobile technologies, cloud-based-collaboration and digital reporting processes.
An on-site mobile collaboration hub that can be moved from site to site depending on project demands as implemented by Boustead Projects Pte Ltd. allows for project managers onsite and directors in headquarters to verify construction understanding via the internet.
Updated BIM information can be disseminated to on the ground workers via mobile devices to validate the design understanding before installation begins. This not only decreases errors in construction but also allows for efficient progress tracking and project monitoring. With added usability in pre-construction planning phases, site safety planning and reporting.
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