WE/AR Blog Virtual Reality in Construction – How Is it Used to Its Full Potential
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Virtual Reality in Construction – How Is it Used to Its Full Potential

By Veronika Petrenko
11 min read
Construction VR

VR in construction represents the gateway to making this industry safer and more cost-efficient. Although the construction industry relies mainly on reliable equipment that focuses on high quality like strong cranes and safe sawing tools, virtual reality can change every aspect of this industry from the stage of creating models until the final stage of delivering a construction project to the final buyers. Besides, it can effortlessly help you scale your construction business. Keep on reading to find out more.

Scaling your Construction Business Using VR Building

Construction is not an industry that can be scaled easily. But VR technology can change that by making the data and models easily shareable across different teams and helping bring new teams up to date on all the necessary issues. Besides, with VR technology, teams located in different places can easily walk through the site and examine it together in detail.

VR in construction
Image from shutterstock.com

VR also helps create constructions more easily and showcase details while eliminating any information that might cause miscommunication between all the concerned parties. It can be used to make models, show adjustments, and even give stakeholders a tour of a completed construction project before a concept is implemented or executed. Here are some ways where virtual reality is helping the construction industry improve and grow.

Creating Accurate 3D Models and Working with Them

3D model building
Image from shutterstock.com

Virtual reality in architecture is used to build 3D models that show more information than models drawn on paper or built using CAD or other computer software programs. 

3D virtual models can show the minor details that 2D models can miss, like the piping details, giving the architecture the chance to create a design that doesn’t miss anything. Compared to 2D models, virtual 3D models offer an unmatched level of immersion and spatial recognition, so engineers and construction workers can avoid mistakes and errors in execution. Moreover, these models can be fragmented to produce traditional construction documents for sharing with stakeholders and future reference. 

Offers Necessary Training to Employees

VR training construction
Image from unrealengine.com

One of the perks of using VR for architecture models and construction projects is that it allows employees to examine and use 3D virtual models when access to real objects is difficult or risky. Thus, for example, employees can be trained to use new pieces of equipment and work with new materials without actually wasting the company’s resources. At the same time, these models offer new employees an exceptional chance for learning and training. 

When a new construction concept is employed, virtual reality training can shorten the training time required to master it and minimize errors and mistakes. As a result, it will allow employees to master these new techniques faster. 

Moreover, VR can be used in the interviewing process as it offers a comprehensive tool to test the skills of new candidates. Using virtual reality, construction engineers can create real-life situations and assess how potential construction employees can use new equipment and follow the right techniques. 

As a matter of fact, most employees in construction find VR training to be fun and engaging. As it increases the employees’ engagement level, they’re more likely to be involved with the task at hand, which ultimately leads to better results in building. 

Employees Can Train In Non-Standard Situations

VR fire training
Image from goleman.co.nz

VR training can be used to examine conditions where access to the real construction site is difficult. This is applicable in training employees to work even in such non-standard conditions like underwater or in space. Virtual reality can be used to create and recreate a simulation of an extreme environment to help trainees understand what can be done in case of an emergency. 

For instance, creating a simulation of an earthquake or a fire will test the safety measure, and this kind of information will affect the decisions of stakeholders like investors and insurance companies. It also creates an immersive walkthrough that users can experience without being at risk. 

Using this virtual reality simulation will help decrease the likelihood of accidents due to being unfamiliar with the extreme environment and the factors that affect it.

Elaboration of Safety Measures

VR training at heights
Image from vouse.co

According to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are about 150,000 accidents on the construction site every year. Testing the safety measures on the construction site can be improved using virtual reality applications. For example, VR can create multiple simulations of situations where things don’t go unplanned and will show how the structure will stand. Moreover, it can teach how to operate machinery remotely, which eliminates any risks because of the human absence at the jobsite. 

VR simulations can be very helpful for safety training for working at heights in-line with Work at Height Regulations. It can teach workers how to identify and control hazards when working at height as well as the correct use of equipment. 

New and older employees might not be aware of dangers and hazards on a new site or in a new construction environment, but a VR simulation will allow the construction staff to interact with the real equipment to see if the safety measures actually work. It can also create multiple scenarios to see how the events will play out if a single factor changes and how the employees should react in this case.

Construction Company Cost-Effectiveness Using VR

VR makes presentations more effective; as a result, the company can get better offers from suppliers to finish projects. Not only will this allow access to more affordable materials, but the company can also actually have access to better raw materials that allow construction workers to finish the project in better quality. 

Incorporating virtual reality into the different stages of construction, from the designing stage to the finishing stage, will help solve different problems on the site and increase the company’s cost-effectiveness. Here is how VR can be used in making projects more cost-efficient. 

  • By examining virtual models during the designing period, managers can make more accurate estimates regarding the raw materials needed to complete a specific project. As a result, there won’t be a surplus in raw materials that the company doesn’t actually need. Moreover, designers and architects can explore different ways that allow them to execute the same design using more cost-efficient methods. 
  • VR simulation can also help workers and managers identify potential obstacles that might put the project on hold before they actually happen, so they can think of practical solutions that allow them to overcome these obstacles. 
  • Virtual reality construction models reduce the cost and time needed for revisions. Designers and architects can spend months visiting sites and making revisions without reaching the desirable outcome, but VR models are easier and less costly to adjust. They also give designers endless options, as they can test and try any concept that might not be feasible to construct simply for testing purposes. Showing these models to investors and the construction department will help all parties reach better and more efficient decisions faster. 
  • VR contributes efficiently in creating Building Information Models or BIM. This allows the company to work with reusable content that can be modified and used multiple times without exhausting the company’s resources. In addition, created VR models are incorporated into the company’s data storage and a wider VR software application that can be used several times by multiple teams working on the same or different projects. 
  • In some cases, employees make decisions that increase the cost of the project due to their incompetence, but in others, the culprit might be the lack of necessary data. VR can show employees more details about the tasks they need to complete and even allow them to train on doing these tasks before they start working. 

Virtual Reality Building Next Level Collaboration

VR construction teamwork
Image from shutterstock.com

VR technology makes it very easy for construction staff to collaborate, work with remote objects and track the construction progress from any corner of the world. Furthermore, as VR applications and headsets keep on improving, there’s room for better applications and more collaboration between all the parties involved in the construction project from beginning to end.

This technology was put to the test during the global pandemic of COVID-19, where social distancing was a must. As a result, it allowed all the interested parties to communicate safely. 

How Can Virtual Reality in Construction Applications Improve Customer Experience?

VR real estate
Image from lookingglassxr.com

Virtual walkthrough tours and creating an immersive experience won’t only be used to impress investors but is a potential tool that the company’s marketing and sales teams can use to improve the company’s sales. 

Virtual tours show the customers the project they’re investing in and deliver more information than paper drawings. They allow potential customers to examine all the details of an apartment complex and experience how it’s like to live in such a location. It also allows them to test the potential of the facilities, so they can be more convinced of what they’re paying for them. 

The created virtual simulation helps sell a construction project before it’s ready and gives the company a competitive advantage in the market. It also creates a bigger opportunity for making money, as potential customers will have faith in the project before they actually see it. 

In the future, the company will retain this level of customer loyalty. The company will gain the trust of customers, so they’re more likely to purchase residential and commercial units designed and built by the same company in the future. 

Architects and designers can use VR to show how different concepts can be executed. Using visual immersion, the designer can bring an interesting concept to life, share it with other interested parties, and eventually execute it. Moreover, VR brings a better understanding than paper models, so stakeholders can experience the designers’ vision. 

Best Examples of Using Virtual Reality in Different Construction Phases

Lots of the key players in the construction industry understood the potential of virtual reality technology and its applications. As a result, they’ve already used this technology to enrich the construction process and improve all its stages. Here are some of the most successful examples of using VR in architect, design, and construction. 

1. New Rochelle Improvement

New Rochelle launched a virtual reality website as part of its program for expanding municipal improvement. The website allows residents and investors to experience new and improved local spots and offer their feedback. 

One of the perks of using this application is that it made the technology extremely accessible, as anyone can take a virtual tool online, at a local kiosk, or at the NRVR platform at the New Rochelle Transit Center. The 360-degree view made people feel more connected to the project and allowed the designers to receive valuable feedback from people who will use the facilities.  

2. Retrofitting Damaged Houses in Nepal

Build Change is a non-profit social enterprise that aims at saving lives in natural disasters. With collaboration with the Nepalese government, this organization used virtual reality to show the effects of reconstruction

During the 2015 earthquake, most houses were destroyed in the village of Eklephant. VR tours were used to suggest the needed improvements, create jobs, and save the lives of those who were affected. 

3. North Alabama Medical Center

North Alabama Medical Center was built in the outstanding period of 23 months using virtual reality. Using prefabrication and VR designs, architects and designers were able to come with a cost-efficient plan. 

The medical center was constructed during the predetermined period to cover the needs of the neighboring community. Moreover, the created data was made available for future projects, so constructing similar structures would take less time and cost.  

The Costs of Using VR In Construction Projects

There are several costs that stand between construction companies and virtual reality technology. 

  • Visual references of the location (namely, photos and videos, drone footage, and many more)
  • The costs for the virtual reality headsets and devices should be considered before using this technology 
  • The cost for the special software applications and development team services 
  • The cost of training new and old employees 

Explore the Benefits of VR in Construction

From creating 3D models that allow for easy adjustments to reducing the time and cost spent on making modifications, creating a safer environment for employees, and showcasing a concept to stakeholders before its execution, VR can literally transform the way business is done. 

At WE/AR Studio, we have a reliable team of specialists that will study your company’s situation and offer the right VR solutions to grow and scale your construction business. Contact us and our team will walk your business through to a world of possibilities.