Whitepaper: 01.15.2015

Benefits of VDC

Virtual Design and Construction Produces Real Results
by Jason Howard, McCarthy Preconstruction Director

Recently the advent of new software and mobile apps has greatly improved the construction industry’s use of Virtual Design Construction (VDC) applications. For so long, the industry had dealt with antiquated software and inefficient ways to manage projects, instigating paper wars in the field. The new and improved software programs and technologies coming on the market were quickly adopted by many in the architecture, engineering and construction industry and continue to be improved upon through use in the field. Owners are experiencing value in real schedule and cost savings, increasing team collaboration and improvement in overall quality and safety on projects.

VDC technology allows a design and construction team to estimate, coordinate, plan and build a project in the virtual space, long before construction begins. This helps provide builders, partners and other project team members a clear picture of the project and the best way to proceed with construction, budgeting, scheduling, logistics and safety.

Saving Time and Money
When utilized properly, VDC processes improve efficiencies on projects and in turn save money by reducing schedule.

VDC efforts during preconstruction can help identify constructability issues, recognize gaps in sequence and schedule, and adjust material types and layout for real-time cost analysis. An important part of preconstruction is helping an owner understand their budget up front and accurately estimate cost. Builders can now estimate in 3-D and spend less time doing several project take-offs and more of the time on the real detail and pricing of materials.

During construction, VDC can help continue strong communication amongst the project team members by relaying status on deliveries, construction progress, potential unforeseen issues, safety concerns and quality checks. Examples of VDC use during construction include Robotic Station for layout, BIM 360 Field for issue/data tracking, and real-time progress and productivity tracking in all construction areas for immediate feedback.

A Collaborative Design Effort
VDC helps facilitate a collaborative environment by providing remote access to the most current information for all team members. Utilizing technology to clearly communicate ideas that can be tracked and seen by critical team members allows for an open platform to resolve issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. An example of utilizing VDC to collaborate is the use of BIM 360 Glue software during design phase coordination. Multiple parties are able to collaborate virtually, ensuring they all have the most up-to-date information during design. This allows for effective off-site coordination, which is becoming increasingly important in a global market. It also allows the model to be taken from design into construction for layout once construction starts. 

Increasing Safety and Quality
VDC can be utilized to provide visuals for the flow of construction. This has proven effective for recognizing site logistics obstacles or potentially dangerous activities that may not have been identified in traditional planning and scheduling. Additionally, VDC can be used to coordinate building systems to a level that can facilitate prefabrication or modularization in a controlled environment off-site. Safety, quality and productivity can be greatly enhanced when working in a controlled environment like bays in a warehouse. Many projects have successfully implemented VDC in controlled environments to prefabricate hospital patient rooms, bathrooms and overhead MEP systems in congested corridors.

Hands-on experience combined with advancements like Virtual Design Construction technology are helping to deliver success from the earliest design stages through project close out. VDC will continue to play an increasingly important role in how a project is delivered regardless of the method. This shift in the utilization of new technologies will further increase the role the general contractor will have in the overall design process, ultimately saving you time and money.

About the Author
Jason Howard serves as Preconstruction Director for McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. in Las Vegas. Howard has nearly 15 years of construction experience, working exclusively in estimating and preconstruction. He is highly regarded for providing value analysis solutions for overall budget control and developing phasing strategies on complex scheduled projects. A graduate of Brigham Young University, he is active in numerous professional organizations including the United States Green Building Council, American Concrete Institute and Nevada Professional Facility Managers Association. Jason can be reached at jhoward@mccarthy.com.

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