VR for Building: Why Virtual Reality is for Builders, Not Just Technologists

Posted by Lauren Weatherall on Dec 3, 2020
Lauren Weatherall


Virtual reality once sounded so futuristic. For innovators in the AEC industry, VR for building is today’s technology, enabling engineering and construction teams to make giant strides forward in productivity. VR has broken through the barriers of the tech world and is now designed specifically with builders in mind. With enterprise-grade VR headsets more available and affordable than ever, VR technology for AEC no longer requires a technologist to implement or use. The ecosystem of VR software providers, like IrisVR, offers AEC companies powerful partners to help guide them through competition-shattering digital transformation.

VR solutions for built world problems

A long-lived, widely accepted assumption in the built world involves reserving a significant portion of the overall budget - as much as 30% - for changes and rework that takes place after construction has already begun. It’s time to shatter the status quo of waste and unnecessary spend. Today, VR solutions for AEC are transforming the way building projects work by giving teams the tools they need to catch errors earlier, saving enormous amounts of time and money.

The AEC industry at large is ready for big solutions for big problems. In the last 20 years, the construction industry’s annual productivity growth has increased by a whopping 1%, as reported by the McKinsey Global Institute. What’s more, 25% of all projects grow past scope of work in the field by over 30%.

Construction companies around the world are turning to modern construction technology to solve problems and build better. VR for construction has myriad applications and IrisVR sees industry leaders using it in innovative ways. For example, Barton Malow Company uses VR for collaborative VR meetings to discuss how to build complicated concrete pours to field crews. @One Alliance uses VR to catch design inconsistencies that aren’t easily spotted in 3D models on computer screens and, in their first design review in VR, saved over €23,000 on rework costs, while catching safety risks before breaking ground. Today, with the rapid shift to remote workforces during the pandemic, VR for building has become even more of a necessity to drive productivity levels in a very different working environment.

VR is for builders, not just technologists

The need for digital transformation in the AEC industry has accelerated immensely in 2020, leaving many companies scrambling to figure out what that means for their organizations and how to implement processes and tools to reach new heights. IrisVR customers, like Gilbane Building Company, are pushing the envelope with modern technology to drive productivity without disrupting their existing processes

In fact, IrisVR’s CEO & founder, Shane Scranton, spoke with Rawle Sawh, Gilbane’s Director of VDC, about how Gilbane is successfully driving digital transformation and seeing productivity gains, despite the pandemic. Rawle makes a point to say he is not a technologist nor a tech-evangelist. He is a builder and his bottom line is construction. Yet, he sees a huge opportunity with VR for building and has led his VDC team to achieve the highest revenue numbers per person in the country. The way he recommends approaching technology for VDC - and AEC in general - is to look at where it can fit into and optimize existing processes. Sudden, dramatic change simply isn’t realistic. Incremental improvements - like enabling dispersed teams to experience building models with VR headsets before even breaking ground - makes people’s lives easier without completely disrupting the way they work.

Simple VR technology that works together

This new era of tech-enabled building processes is defined by more tools integrating and working together. Whether you use Navisworks, Revit, SketchUp, or other tools to support BIM-driven processes, the worlds of BIM and VR are merging to enable AEC companies to accomplish more, faster, and cheaper.

“Virtual reality is being used in the construction industry to improve design, safety, and training and to avoid costly overruns.”

- Business.com

Companies are experiencing the advantages of simple VR solutions for construction. Construction projects are notorious for moving timelines, constant changes, and delays. Even with the most accurate of models and renderings, errors slip through the cracks resulting in costly fixes. Virtual reality technology reduces rework and keeps timelines more on track by bringing designs to life before construction begins. Engineers can walk through buildings to inspect the foundation, pillars, pipes, and more, often finding critical clashes that save their companies significant costs.

The world of immersive technology has brought enterprise VR collaboration solutions, like IrisVR, to AEC. Prospect by IrisVR brings complex 3D models to life in VR at 1:1 scale, empowering AEC teams to make faster decisions, catch costly errors, and collaborate anywhere. Curious to see it in action? Get in touch with our team to see how simple it can be to leverage enterprise-grade VR to power digital transformation at your organization.


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