Whitepaper: 04.24.2013

Augmented Reality is Here

Augmented Reality BIM for Location-Based Information Management and Background

With tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Digital Document Management, efficiency gains in coordination and communication have taken the construction industry by storm. However, BIM has been known to be relatively inaccessible at the field level, where many have found accessing coordinated 3-D content to be cumbersome and complicated. In addition, talented field personnel who have spent decades perfecting the art of construction have done so with the trust and reliance of traditional 2-D and hardcopy paper documents – utilizing BIM requires a cultural shift in how traditional workers access the new world of information. In order to facilitate and encourage field personnel to access and use up-to-date coordinated BIM content, a more intuitive and streamlined system had to be found.

After assessing several solutions, McCarthy came upon an app called BIManywhere created by Bay Area startup company Zimfly, allowing for a streamlined and intuitive way to access the BIM model with the use of QR codes. The solution allowed for those who wanted to review the Building Information Model in the field to simply pull out an iPad and scan a nearby QR code sticker to access the latest coordinated 3-D model of that exact location. The person could then simply “look” around with the iPad®, using the screen as a virtual lens, to align the 3-D model geometry with the real world.

McCarthy collaborated with Zimfly to extend the functionality of the tool by developing a fully intelligent 3-D model that incorporated much of the information found in the electronic planroom. This allowed for location-based access of electronic documents such as approved shop drawings and OHSPD plans. In addition, McCarthy created “hotspots” that allowed for visual-based access and assessment of RFIs, as well as 3-D laser scans of as-built conditions to review in-wall conditions.

McCarthy’s utilization of this system recently won the prestigious 2012 Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation (CETI) Award for construction innovation, given by an international community of capital projects stakeholders.

Benefits & Results
Use of the BIManywhere system allows superintendents and all trades to more efficiently resolve field issues, and engineers are allowed more time to dedicate themselves to other value-adding processes. Field staff also use the system to assist with logistics planning and installation coordination, helping to avoid impacts to the schedule and to track installation of installed work for cash flow verification while mitigating risk through better planning. 

One reason for McCarthy’s success with the system is due to the fact that the BIManywhere app automatically takes care of manual processes required to view an updated model or access electronic documents. Rather than having to rely on a specialized BIM expert, or having to memorize hundreds of file naming conventions or computer folder structures, a user can take a “what you see is what you get” approach to accessing critical project information. The average training time for a field superintendent on the new system is less than 5 minutes, allowing for quick and widespread adoption.

“An issue we were having with the fire sprinkler pipes this whole week was resolved in just one quick meeting,” praised Tom Scally, a senior superintendent at McCarthy.

Lastly, McCarthy is further exploring the use of the platform as a basis for a final deliverable to the client. The application acts as a stand-alone medium for all electronic project documents. Such documents include equipment warranty and maintenance instructions and associated project documents, as well as possible integration into the building management system to remotely shut off devices or integration into a computer aided facilities management system to initiate work order requests. These features help increase efficiency in maintaining a building, thus reducing overall lifecycle costs.

McCarthy is successfully utilizing BIManywhere on several projects in California, and we are further refining our processes to implement this technology across the country.

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