Updated: Jul 31, 2019
The AEC is definitely not known for its productivity, in fact it is one of the least productive industry. At Sigma AEC Solutions we believe that we have reached a tipping point and optimistic the we will see exponential improvements. It always seases to amaze me that personal computer, cell phones are so new and how far the technology has come. Ray Kurzweil goes into detail about this exponential growth in his book The Singularity Is Near .
The AEC industry will be no exception. Many technologies are converging and letting us tackle these productivity issues that where though impossible just a few years ago. Traditional architecture engineering and construction process are on a clash course with data science. Data Science is about finding solutions from an abundance of data. Data is becoming the new gold and the technology is already here to capture it for the AEC industry. This is Sigma AEC vision for the evolution of building technology.
Building A Existing Model
The first step in a renovation project is to build a new model. Innovators and pioneers in the industry are already save many hours to days by using laser scanning to capture current facility information that goes from point cloud to BIM model. That awesome but let’s take it farther. First wifi enabled nodes are placed to sync real world point with points in the model. This will allow location tracking that can be use in and by the BIM model.
A surveyor quickly walking through a building with a Image via BuiltWorlds One tablet in hand fills out the required information about the space. A tag is placed on equipment and in each space, storing the data from the tablet. The tags are equipped with sensors to measure engineering data, ( temp, sound, light, ex…) That data can then be organized and analyzed think like HVAC loads. Then a robot with a scanner and Wi-Fi attached runs autonomously room by room capture all aspects of the room and picks up the tagged data and it location. All of this is turned in to a model at has exciting equipment in place and data filled out. Also the ability to autonomous navigate the building in the future thanks to the triangulation used by the nodes.
The technology is there it just need to come together. I have seen automated vacuums navigate a house, Xbox Kinect lazier scan a room, Arduino board with light and temperature sensors that can be programmed at home and Wi-Fi tracker for keys.
Production of BIM Model
So we flowed our work flow from above. Now it time to do some architecture and engineering. We have a lot of data already in place in our BIM environment. Completely eliminating the data drop of an onsite visit and a huge head start on BIM production. Now we enter the new age of algorithms. Which will make it possible to generate thousands of possible design options in a matter of seconds rather than weeks or months. Freeing us up to focus on the things that truly matter. Picture algorithms that can; select systems equipment with set of parameters like coast while minimize energy; place all of the needed elements and data in the model and optimize routing of ducts pipes and cables clash free, use that computer generated mode to get not just an estimate but an exact coast, getting a bill of materials straight from the model, emails to a number of respected suppliers, pulling that data backing in and analyzing for the best price, producing a construction schedule and delivery schedule, not just materials not just to the site but to the exact location in the building, finding ideal location for construction equipment.
With cloud base computing the power and availability is now here to run such massive algorithms. Take Autodesk Insight 360 were you can send a model to the cloud/ super computer and in a matter of minutes have a dash board where its possible to rotate the building, change the U values, change lighting loads ex.. and intently see the result to find best energy scenario. There is a growing community of mostly young professionals exploring and sharing this ideas with free open source software like Dynamo, Rhino and Grasshoper. I was a copo at Tec Manufacturing were I witnessed Excel sending emails to suppliers and pulled that information back in, including shipping coast a lead time. I have also seen a dynamo script that fines the ideal crane location on a job sit given a set of parameters. I have written scripts that set up projects, places elements in BIM models with the information. I have had no code experience.
Virtual Reality is already here, the price is steadily coming down and millennial are known for our screen time and video game playing. So if we put those skills and passion into are work you bet we will. Virtual Reality is not just fun and game it offers great benefits to the developer, owner, and facilities team. It is logical to recognize that people can visualize 3D models better than traditional 2D plans. It is abundantly valued in cases where owners and the project team need to visually understand an architect or engineer’s design intent. these tools generally provides quicker buy-in, more informed owner feedback, and a faster way for an owner to recognize changes that might be essential or impact.
There is also the delivery of data. Not only would delivering a truly BIM model be much cheaper and faster for firms to turn out. It also keeps all information is in one place or file. A true BIM model is a huge data base that also happens to be a grate graphical represented by a 3D model. One of the best way to understand and get a grip on a large amount of data is throw tools like Excel’s pivot tables and pivot charts. No more stacks of hard to understand black and white 2D drawing. Instead dash board that can quickly be customized to fit
the conversation and a model that can be filter, color coded, updated and displayed like the Death Star plans out of Star Wars. We have already seen hologram 2Pac performing on stage and Microsoft HoloLens is showing a lot of promise so why not BIM models.
This is probably the most exciting part of the process. The fist needed component is to know location in a building and sync that with the BIM model. I talked about this above with the wifi triangulation and datum points. Once that is done the possibilities are staggering. Imagine using a camera on a tablet or smartphone or even a hard hat to capture your view on the screen then over laying a complex array of piping new duct on the same screen. As you move around the space, the computer-generated graphics of move with you. That’s the power of Augmented Reality. Even when the ceilings and walls are up get a view of what’s on the other side. This is grate for ongoing facilities operations and maintenance. It would also allow the overlay of information connected to BIM databases on top of real-world equipment or duct. Giving insight like never before on things like duct velocity design compared to actual flow. Pinpoint issues and solve problems would be much easier.
The delivery of martial could be revolutionized. Building components, most of them pre-fabbed off site, could be assembled with great precision and delivered to an exact location in the building with drones or rovers. Martial waste could be done the same way even spereating it by material. These machines just need to be charged they would never get tired, never take a coffee break, and could run 24/7. Once again this isn’t out of the realm of possibility, Pokémon go took the world by storm placing characters right over our real word showily though a smart phone. Tessal has made driver-less cars a reality with other now following, a growing number of hospitals are deploying robots that can navigate the building and automate simple operational tasks to free up time for workers and save money.
This all may sound like science fiction to some, but this is already provening to true. Many examples from above could be seen by a walk though the Autodesk University 2018 exhibition hall.
Sigma AEC Solution goal is to make this visions a reality. We believe we can live in a world of abundance by combining the technologies of today with the minds of the designers shaping our world.