BIM4SME Awards Winners Case Study 3

This is the third post in the series showcasing the winners from the BIM4SME Awards 2017.

This week's case study features the winner of the Best use of BIM for Health & Safety, submitted by Freeform 3D for their intelligent combination of 4D modelling and VR on the 22 Bishopsgate project, with a focus on Health & Safety .

Interactive Virtual Reality linked to 4D modelling at 22 Bishopsgate



The 22 Bishopsgate project is a 62 storey, 2 million square foot building with a site boundary no bigger than its finished footprint. Planning the construction logistics was, therefore, a complex and difficult task, hard to achieve by traditional techniques. Our challenge was to deliver a system that not only allowed Multiplex’s logistics manager to complete this task accurately and quickly but also delivering real value to the workforce and could be rolled out across the business, supporting their supply chain and the Client too.

The innovation undertaken was the combination of highly detailed 4D modelling and Virtual Reality (VR). Accurately representing detailed construction stages and logistics arrangements in a virtual environment, allowing complete planning, testing and sharing of the future construction stages of the project.

22 Bishopsgate. North view. Artist's impression.

What the initiative is and how it works

Putting individuals within the virtual environment of the construction site breaks down the barriers of understanding more than 3D visuals can do alone. This new technology has the ability to grant the wearer with the truest representation possible and allows a full understanding of the working conditions before arriving on site. Safety and logistical considerations can be reviewed, tested and adapted prior to works starting when programme implications impede the ability to stop, review and adapt working conditions.

In order to create these virtual environments the design information, temporary works and logistics details are combined into BIM and linked with programme tasks to create a dynamic visual representation of the construction sequence. This facilitates deep interrogation of the plan of work, unlocking experience from the wider project team to give programme clarity and certainty.

Screenshot showing 4D model

Logistics' VR as of April 2017

Further, the teams are more aware of upcoming stages of work and the 4D model supports decisions at all stages. The supply chain can quickly collaborate with each other in a visual, dynamic way. Often the scenes that are created and interacted with, are months and years ahead, giving the team plenty of time to adjust procurement and improve logistics and temporary works design.

The 4D scenes were then imported into a virtual environment allowing users the ability to enter the construction work stage selected, the user then had many options on how to manipulate the environment. On top of simple teleport navigation, a suite of tools was added that continues to grow with the team’s requirements and our development cycle. The level of interaction gets deeper by creating tools such as:

• Object creation, plant such as MEWPs, Concrete Wagons, pedestrian barriers can be created by the user in the VR environment

• Object manipulation, picking up objects, plant and moving, deleting, rotating

• Mark-up, user can markup areas, or sketch ideas in different colours within the VR scene

• Save/load feature, user can save whole detailed logistics scenes for sharing

• VR workshops, by combining with large whiteboard screens, we run VR workshops where teams can plan logistics and safety in an unprecedented level of interaction and scope

• Rotate objects, such as tower cranes, and sit inside the tower cranes simulating lifts, sight lines and lifting radii

• Scale versions, users can control the scale of the experience dynamically. Either at 1:50 for planning scenes and then at 1:1 real scale, walking through the scene to gain an incredible level of planning, experiencing the project as it will be.

Deliver an accurate and validated as-built COBie sheet based on the client’s data requirements

• Deliver a full repository of product-related PDFs in the O&M manual, in the required structure and embedded as-built product data, into open formats.

• Ensure that all stakeholders could benefit from accurate, paperless construction product data – ready to be transparently shared with anyone who might need it.

Screenshot showing some of the tools available to users

How it was implemented and what are the benefits

Key areas where the virtual environment proved hugely beneficial to the project included planning logistics of a typical floor plate and tower crane dismantling and erection. These were the first areas reviewed with more being identified and created as the project progress.

The first major use on the project was developing a logistics plan for a typical floor plate with the Façade Contractor. A workshop was held reviewing the area in VR. Temporary storage and air feeds for the CCF panels, launching tables, plant, edge protection and netting were all modelled and positioned in VR with Multiplex Site Managers, H&S Managers and Sub-Contractor’s supervisors all in agreement. This workshop identified an issue on the plant floors of the building where extra structural steelwork made lifting operations impossible, as this was identified early provisions were made to lift and store panels from higher levels in these instances.

Lifting operations simulated in VR (left). Placing a forklift within the typical floor plate scene (Right)

The Tower Crane strategy at the top of the Building is particularly difficult as the roof slab sits X meters below the NATS Ceiling. The luffing jib tower cranes that climb with the building will need to be replaced with flat-top cranes. The sequence of first shortening the luffing jibs, and then dismantling and replacing them was tested fully in VR, with input from Structural and MEP Subcontractor team, plus the Crane Coordinator and Logistics Manager. The workshop identified a number of slinger blind spots during major lifts that could not have been foreseen through other means.

An overview of the Top of Building scene (left). Placing Tower Crane 1 Jib on the deck for shortening (right).

Importantly, by funding and encouraging the development of 4D and VR at 22 Bishopsgate at an appropriately ambitious level, the above tool-sets are now re-useable on other projects and across the industry. This wasn’t a minimum viable product for Multiplex, and therefore, many future projects will benefit from what has been achieved here. Tool development as well as establishing a company procedure was the key objective.

The Future

Because Virtual Reality is a new emerging technology across all markets, not just construction, best practice examples of its use need to be communicated to the industry. The 22BG project is open for Multiplex staff, supply chain and other stakeholders to visit and try out the technology for themselves. Entering an award like this also provides a platform to showcase what this technology can be used for and the benefits it provides to the wider industry.

Planning logic, Gantt charts, 3D models, logistics plans and plant specifications are normally separate and difficult to combine and understand fully. However, these items are critical and need to be understood by the majority of the project team. By combining them digitally and creating VR environments, any project team member can immediately drop into any future stage of a project and make informed useful decisions. This makes BIM extremely accessible, unlocking experience. It leads to BIM adoption, by enabling people who have no BIM training to engage with the process.

A wider benefit is to promote knowledge sharing across the industry and enable new recruits the access to a portfolio of examples to review and experience. In an industry facing a skills shortage, being able to grant a new recruit with these experiences to improve their understanding of multiple different types of projects and site operations without having to wait for the situations to arise will assist in fast tracking their training.  Industry BIM benefits are typically focused on the design stage, through clash detection or the handover stage, with rich asset models. This initiative pushes it into the construction stage and provides a real benefit for construction staff, creating a demand for BIM at the site level. Ensuring demand for BIM is across all stages of the project will promote the mandate of BIM in the industry.

You can see 22 Bishopsgate VR Demo Video below:

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