Enabling effective planning between the architects, engineers, and contractors (AEC) to decrease disputes and improve communication efficiency, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has proven to be beneficial in improving project documentation throughout the project lifecycle. However, due to the restricted interaction between the real and virtual worlds, BIM’s contribution to fieldwork is quite limited.

Since this conceptual model of translating virtual 3D plans into real-world structures hasn’t changed much, integrating BIM with Augmented Reality (AR) is figured to greatly increase BIM’s potential application to fieldwork by incorporating computer-generated elements in real-world environments.

To put this into a real-life situation, imagine that you could be able to view the entire 3D model of your house or get the details and maintenance information about the assets used in your house by just scanning a QR code. Is that even possible? Yes, it is, certainly with help of Augmented Reality (AR). BIM models can now be enhanced by Augmented Reality (AR) empowering its users to view and access the BIM model data hands-free in 3D. AR adds a layer of information and views/overlaying relevant information to the digital representation. By integrating BIM and Augmented Reality together, the AEC industry is all set to experience an enriched view of the different phases of the entire project lifecycle.

Value of AR technology

The use of AR technology has its own benefits which mainly include:

  • Increased safety
  • Cost reduction/saving
  • Swift decision making
  • Improved stakeholder/team communication
The integration of BIM with AR aids in providing a collaborative environment to manage and exchange project data and vital information, supported by mobile devices and tablets. Since the prerequisites for AR-capable devices are comparatively low, many of the latest smart devices (phones, tablets) are apt for leveraging AR. The BIM models can thus be visualized with the help of AR throughout the project milestones to make informed decisions and take corrective actions to expedite design processes and improve the quality of work.
Augmented Reality

In terms of BIM workflow, the use of AR is typically associated with the:

  • Design phase – To review the projected solution,
  • Construction phase – To oversee the construction activities and monitor progress,
  • Operation phase – To coordinate, inspect, and facilitate building maintenance.
The benefits of integrating AR with BIM are significant as it empowers the entire project lifecycle through different phases and stakeholders involved.

1. Project planning phase

It helps the project stakeholders to visually perceive the project extensively exhibiting its environmental and social impacts on its surroundings.

2. Designing phase

By integrating AR with BIM models, designers and architects can evaluate and analyze designs for viability, function, and aesthetics in an immersive manner. The changes can also be easily modified and aligned to the client’s requirements.

3. Construction phase

Integrating AR with BIM models enables workers to interpret the project more easily. It also helps with complex MEP services to reduce construction errors, enhance accuracy, and overcome budget overrun. This also helps stakeholders to save time and resources in the process.

4. Inspection and site review

AR with BIM aids in improvising inspection with the help of safety checklists and wearable smart glasses. With such AR equipment, overhead, and underground utilities, the power lines can be viewed and in case of an issue – AR pins, tags, or comments can be used to draw attention towards the corrective measures to be taken.

5. Operations and maintenance

AR adds value to the operations and maintenance phases of the BIM project by delivering information about building models, instructional manuals, and representations for assets directly to the users. During maintenance, AR can help to improve the performance of what? to attain accuracy and efficiency. Any AR user can avail all this information just by scanning codes or wearing AR wearables without carrying sheets of the drawings or sets of manuals around.

6. Renovations, underground constructions

AR wearable technology can unveil hidden infrastructural placements- beams, ducts, conduits, etc easily to support the renovation activity. It also enables the project team to revamp/revise and identify issues right in the planning stage to make renovation easier.

AR Technology
In the excavation process, many risks are involved like- accidentally smashing underground utilities or breaking a running gas, which could cause devastating explosions; putting the entire workforce’s life at risk. AR technology lets users view and explore such hidden underground items barely visible to naked eyes.

As you can see AR in construction is becoming more popular, not only because it is critical for project management, but also because it is a safe and labor-saving technology.

It is possible to gain a unique characteristic, known as “immediate visualisation,” through AR, which promotes communication and decision-making between project participants. But the use of Augmented Reality (AR) in BIM technology goes much beyond that helping you to save money and time. A simple smartphone or AR gadget along with an application today can deliver a precise and comprehensive virtual construction schematic of the project in a real-world context.

AR integrated BIM is the next upcoming trend for the AEC industry and should be embraced to achieve higher efficiency in the projects by advancing workflows and digitally transforming job sites for enhanced safety and better outcomes. Reach out to us if you’d like to know more about how to leverage the AR–BIM system for an engaging and dynamic experience across your project lifecycle.

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