BIM design review in Virtual Reality (VR)

10 tips to get the most out of this!

How do you involve all stakeholders in your building design, minimize failure costs and increase customer satisfaction?

More and more construction companies and property owners are discovering the benefits of VR when assessing BIM models. BIM has already become indispensable in more complex construction projects, in particular. But what are the benefits of VR and how do you get the most out of it within your workflow? In this article we describe the advantages of VR and how you can best implement it within your existing work process.

Connec2 is a VR collaboration platform that is used by the construction industry to reduce failure costs and greatly improve communication with customers and construction team members. BIM models are converted to a VR world, in which you can experience the building design from any location with multiple users, and gain better insight into all facets of the design.

1. Involve end users

VR is ideally suited to let the end users experience the new building before it is built. In addition, being able to read technical drawings is not for everyone, while a lot of important feedback can be obtained from the end users. How do they experience the new spaces, position of different elements, entrances, stairs, furniture, etc. But also for technicians it helps to experience the 3D model in full size. By experiencing it live, you get a better insight into problems that did not appear to be an issue on the technical drawing. Think of a curve that cannot be taken with a hospital bed due to the wrong placement of a door. Or an element in a technical room that is difficult to reach for the maintenance team. Being able to walk through the future building at full scale provides an enormous amount of extra insight, whereby clashes and feedback can be directly fed back to the BIM team using the Connec2 BCF tool.

Tjerk Boorsma (BIM manager at Dura Vermeer) about the power of involving end users.

2. The power of together

Make sure that several people can walk through the VR design at the same time. This sparks the discussion. It quickly becomes a sport to spot design flaws that your colleagues had not yet seen. In addition, you see in practice that the different group members give each other ideas. Once the conversation gets going and the group members feel at ease, the tap is often opened and one area after another for improvement is spotted.

Alexander Wijnhout (General Manager Benelux at Walraven) about the power of remote collaboration:

3. Organize sessions for specific themes

Because there is a lot to discuss during a VR review session, it is wise to choose different themes in advance. Think, for example, of the maintenance or cleaning of the building, the throughput and logistics or the maintenance of a technical room. By organizing a session per theme, the focus is immediately on the right things and it also makes sense to invite specific people for a session. In this way you make optimal use of the knowledge and experience of various end users or stakeholders.

4. Not everything at once

Because VR sessions are easy to organize, it is recommended to organize shorter sessions more often instead of trying to get everything right in one session. After an hour, the attention wanes somewhat and not all issues may have been discussed yet. In addition, it is also good to view the changes that have been made so that attention can be paid to new points for improvement. End users find it very pleasant to be intensively involved in optimizing the design in this way. It takes time, but it also pays off a lot. In addition to lower failure costs, customer satisfaction increases considerably due to this way of working together.

René Evers (Dura Vermeer Hengelo) about increasing customer satisfaction with VR:

5. From different locations

Another great advantage of VR sessions is that they can be attended remotely from different locations. The users only need VR glasses or can participate from behind their computer screen if necessary. The power of Connec2 is that multiple remote participants can participate live within one VR environment. Because distance is no longer an issue, you save time and money and it becomes very easy to have regular sessions with each other.

6. Making a 3D model interactive

Provide an interactive experience where you can, for example, offer buyer options. In this way, future residents can walk through the future home with the entire family and move around with furniture. No more flat drawings but live experience of what the space will look like. What does an extension do with the space and possibilities? What will the dormer window look like from the inside? But also think of a technical space in which certain parts can be positioned differently. Move a meter to make it easier to read or place sockets in logical places.

7. Optimize your models in-house

Walking live through a 3D space naturally requires some computing capacity, especially if this is done by different people. In order to work properly in VR, the BIM models must be made suitable. Think of simplifying the model or the degree of detail. Within Revit there are options to disable groups of elements, making the models a lot lighter. In addition, Connec2 is able to optimize the used BIM model for use in VR. Connec2 gives you the opportunity to place your 3D models in a VR world independently, under your own management, without the intervention of third parties. This gives you complete control over your own models and allows you to work a lot faster and easier in VR.

8. Who is the VR officer?

To make optimal use of VR within your organization, it is recommended that you appoint a VR officer. Someone who ensures that all glasses are in the right place, are charged, but also provides technical support. Within Connec2, we have developed a special VR flight case in which multiple VR glasses can be stored, charged and cleaned using a clean box. This gives the VR officer a handy tool to properly prepare each session and help the various participants on their way.

Rob Nengerman (Construction project leader at University of Twente) about involving non-technical colleagues in VR:

9. Involve the entire chain

In addition to involving customers, VR is also ideal for allowing the entire construction team to work together better. All the different parts must then come together in one BIM model, after which the various parties can assess together whether everything fits and is possible in practice. Here too, a VR session stimulates the conversation. How can things be done more conveniently or in what order will work be done?

10. Increasing customer satisfaction

VR is a promising new way of experiencing and communicating. This also makes it easier to manage customer expectations. They can now already see in detail in advance what they will receive. Changes can also be viewed live together with the customer. This makes the customer much more involved and a real part of the project team. This increased involvement not only reduces failure costs, but also increases customer satisfaction. After all, the customer gets exactly what he expects.

Want to start?

Perhaps VR is still unknown within your organization and it sounds like music in the future. We do see that more and more clients and construction companies are using VR as a permanent tool for design reviews. So make sure you don’t fall behind and get some experience with VR now. Start small so that your team can already think about the benefits of using VR within BIM projects. Keep in mind that customers will increasingly expect to experience their project in VR before it gets built.

Do you want to know more about VR or Connec2? Sign up for one of our workshops or contact us.

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