In this episode of the Smarter Building podcast, we caught up with Robert Kumapley, the Chief of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Program at The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ), on the challenges and advantages of implementing an asset management strategy.
Add real dimension to your competitive advantage: The uses of Visualisation
Companies are increasingly using Visualisation as an integral and essential element in design, engineering, and sales and marketing. A Visualisation strategy connects teams, disciplines, and suppliers, eliminating language barriers and helping to facilitate frictionless communication.
This blog looks at how companies adopting such an approach to design—in Architecture, Engineering, Construction, manufacturing, and the automotive sector—are using Visualisation to improve the design process to allow more meaningful collaboration earlier in the project.
Stakeholders gain deeper insight and can make more informed comments and decisions. Specialists are able to see a product in operational conditions in a digital environment. They can see how a product or design will really work, in a way that drawings and 3D models can never really show.
Visualisation represents one of the best ways for all companies, large or small, to enhance communication at every point in the design pipeline. For some, it provides incremental improvements to the creative process, for others it brings transformational enterprise-wide impact. Still others see it as nothing more than a ‘gimmick’. For a comparison between common misconceptions and achievable outcomes with Visualisation, see our blog: ‘Visualisation came so fast and changed so much— Why the revolution?’.
It is becoming more and more apparent that no modern design function can be considered genuinely modern if it is not embracing Visualisation. It is an essential element in smarter construction; closely bound up with the evolving digital transformation of the industry: “…one of the most transformative technologies since the arrival of the internet, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, cloud, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and mobility”.
The impact of Visualisation can range across more aspects of your operation than just your approach to design development. Here’s where you have a choice; either apply it on a project-by-project basis, or absorb it into your organisation’s culture. Both directions make sense. What is right for you depends on the scope of your intentions.
Involving stakeholders in a more engaging way
With Virtualisation, when clients see buildings rendered and placed in their destined location, they have the opportunity to view interiors and finishes but they can also experience the building, understanding the spaces and dynamics within it. They get the feeling of what it will be like to be in the building. This enables them to make more informed choices, since there is a huge difference between trying to interpret a model or a drawing as opposed to actually taking a walk round the place or a deep dive into the functionality of a product. They will feel the project is coming to life.
Uses for AEC companies
Putting Visualisation into action is not a complicated process. A model can be easily moved into a software programme such as Enscape or Twinmotion. Enscape creates a live link from Building Information Modelling (BIM) to a virtual walkthrough, and any changes made in a CAD application are instantly visible in Enscape. Twinmotion synchronises with design software to allow ongoing view of how the project will look. As the design evolves, so does the visualisation.
More than just a design tool, Visualisation brings benefits to engineers:
- For building services engineers, potential problems will often be far more evident when visualised than when shown in a model. This is effectively the difference between theory and practice. For example, clash detection is an integral part of the model process. It highlights where solutions must be found to avoid problems on-site. A Visualisation will show if the identified solution actually looks right when implemented.
Preventing the clashes may be achieved by re-routing pipes and cables but, when undertaken, the re routing may result in a riot of convoluted workarounds. Whatever the workaround is may also not meet with the approval of clients, who can only genuinely respond when they see the impact on the look and feel of their project—the aesthetics.
- From a civil engineering perspective, where infrastructure projects of any size impact landscapes and communities, being able to see these impacts is critical. Visualisation can show not only what the final outcome will look like but how it will evolve over time, from first stage excavations to the finishing touches—piles of rubble to tree-lined avenues; community fears about blights on the landscape to dazzling bridges that sparkle in the sun as they connect and bring regeneration to the very communities that had once expressed their fear of the unknown. Visualisation serves both to allay such fears and ease the construction process.
Uses for manufacturers
Manufacturers can use Visualisation to look closely at the function of a machine, a machine part, or a process, as opposed to simply gaining a view of what it looks like (important though that may be). For heavy machinery they can walk round the object and look closely at safety issues.
The object can be shown in use and how it will be integrated into, and configured for, the production line. This enables the rapid adaptation for different market/country/customer requirements and specifications. Visualisation can also be used to train employees independently; with the assistance of media they can easily understand and relate to. It brings the additional benefit of being able to return to the training as many times as they like. It can be used to address and highlight health and safety concerns, for example in maintenance procedures, without causing any disruption on the factory floor.
Uses for automotive manufacturers
Car manufacturers are gaining agility and saving millions of pounds in vehicle development through Visualisation. From design to perceived quality, to colour and material, and even sales and marketing, automotive studios have embraced Visualisation to extract maximum value from their digital assets.
Visualisation strategies that include static images, real-time presentations, and XR, have contributed to automotive studios reducing development time significantly and serving as a ‘vehicle’ to distribute knowledge and wisdom across individual departments and entire businesses. By visualising prototypes, rather than making them, decisions can be made almost instantly, teams can be more productive and stakeholders more confident in their decisions.
All this with the added bonus of a massive reduction in physical prototypes and all of the related overheads and waste. Manufacturers are no longer dependent on trade shows for new model launches; this technology has allowed studios to become more independent and innovative in how they launch vehicles—sending the model round the world via desktops, augmented with headsets. The need for the global shipment of a single vehicle to launch it is eradicated, so too are the associated costs and carbon emissions.
Strategic uses of Visualisation
Looking beyond the product or project focus of Visualisation, there are other areas where it aids understanding, reduces costs, and raises external perceptions of a company’s sense of responsibility:
Staff onboarding/Attract talent
Not just to conduct training but also to demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to innovation—that it is in line with the technology advances of the modern day. This is important when trying to attract new employees whose decisions are influenced by which technologies companies are using.
Demonstrate ESG responsibility
In a collaborative world, that has increasingly become familiar with remote collaboration, it simply makes no sense to fly around the world for meetings when many can just as effectively be conducted remotely.
Is there really any benefit in making something when it can be visualised? Is there any sense in shifting an object thousands of miles, or up and down the country, to show to stakeholders, when they can perform the same task digitally? Or, going deeper, put on their headset and ‘be’ in the car, in the building, or standing right next to the machine?
Symetri is helping AEC companies, manufacturers, and the automotive industry to transform not just how they design, but how they engage more meaningfully with clients, win more business, de-risk design development, and reduce costs. If you would like to discuss how Visualisation can benefit your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact us by completing the form on this page.