New Year, New Trends

 TECHBIM processes and other software will continue to evolve in 2017.

By Ralph Schoch

The growing demand for construction technologies such as 3-D modeling and the use of augmented reality is making jobsites smarter, safer and more efficient. Every day, new technologies are introduced and more organizations are adopting them. This idea proved true at Autodesk University, where organizations recently showcased the innovative tech trends that will impact the industry in 2017.

The industry can expect to see three technological trends develop in the year ahead.

Enhanced BIM Processes

In 2017, software will continue to advance, allowing engineers and contractors to utilize their BIM construction processes more efficiently. As showcased at Autodesk University 2016 (AU2016), companies are introducing software that enables BIM workflows within Autodesk Revit. Software such as Revizto and BIM 360 Docs have the ability to change the way contractors and engineers understand BIM. Revit models can now be transformed into 3-D environments allowing project teams to truly interact with their preconstruction models. This, coupled with the ability to access documents from any location and digitally assign workflows, allows project teams to work cohesively and improves the current coordination process that we have grown to dislike.

These software advancements are not limited to preconstruction. Advancements are also being made to enhance workflows in fabrication shops and on jobsites. At AU2016, technologies like FabPro1 caught an immense amount of attention from contractors looking to fully understand the workflows from estimate to their fabrication shops. FabPro1 tracks output, provides real-time status updates and gives contractors the ability to estimate projects with cohesive, captured data, all through a computer or mobile app. This information is easily accessed through a mobile device, giving contractors connectivity that was never before available.

The final piece of the puzzle involves jobsite connectivity. Technology is being introduced in 2017 to bring full visibility to the jobsite as well as the fabrication shop. Project managers can utilize technologies that allow them to see installation in real time. Imagine having a software add-in that ties into the Revit model and tracks what areas of a project have been installed at any given time. This concept is now a reality. This solves the age-old problem of not knowing what really was installed on a project each week. This data can be used to forecast deliveries and manpower needs. 

Advanced Visualization

In 2017, more contractors and engineers should start leveraging augmented reality devices to drive fundamental shifts in their traditional construction methods.

Advanced visual technologies such as 3-D glasses are being used to visualize the jobsite in new ways. Contractors now have the ability to immerse themselves in a project throughout preconstruction to virtually walk a jobsite and see clashes, issues and changes. This technology does not require lengthy training and can simply be purchased, installed and utilized. Contractors and engineers can see the benefits in as little as one weeks time.

Augmented reality such as the HoloLens technology is like looking through a window at the world only that window superimposes objects in your line of site – so a project manager can look at a ceiling using glasses or an iPad, and see where an HVAC system will be or should be installed.

A Single Cloud-based Model

Over the past few years, contractors and engineers have been migrating from CADmep to Revit. This has streamlined processes and simplified the model to one single point of truth. An entire project, including all floors and trades, is available for view in one single model. With the advancements in add-in technology for Revit, it is clear that routing will become increasingly more efficient in 2017. Yet what is equally as important is the ability for everyone to access a model both from inside an office, and remotely from a jobsite.

In 2017, this ability to access the model from any global location will improve connectivity and workflows for the entire project team. We believe that collaborative cloud based tools such as Collaboration for Revit and Autodesk A360 will continue to change the technology landscape in 2017. With all of the project documents now residing in the cloud, everyone involved in a project can access one single model, from any location, and updates can be viewed in real time.

Trends are hard to predict, especially when technology is involved. But were confident well see aspects of these larger trends play out of over the next 12 to 18 months, and evolve further in years to come.

Ralph Schoch is a Revit software and internal support manager at Victaulic

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