Takeaways: Industry Panel on Reality Analysis

Raffi Holzer, CEO, and co-founder of Avvir, recently hosted the Reality Capture and Analysis Panel at the Festival of Digital Construction. Joined by industry experts from AECOM, Boston Dynamics, DPR, Skanska, and Swinerton, the group discussed the value of reality capture analysis today and the possibilities for tomorrow.

The panel garnered quite a bit of interest from construction technology professionals and decision-makers throughout the industry. The experts shared valuable insights that we’re excited to share a recap of below.

Growth of Innovation and Automation

“ Every single person on this panel’s [title] has technology or innovation in it…those type of positions did not exist five or 10 years ago” Shaun Lewis – AECOM

Panelists were eager to discuss the rapid rate of technology adoption within the construction space. With BIM and technology requirements being contractually required and written into RFP’s more and more, GC’s are endeavoring to understand the varying cases for using innovative technologies on their projects. Here are some of the headlines on this evolution. 

  • Investment in innovation initiatives is a clear priority amongst companies in the AEC-O industries right now. Shaun Lewis highlighted a number of colleagues that are active contributors to this growing innovation culture, as well as this trend in owner-driven contractual obligations.
  • As the desire to bring automation into construction has increased, and as prices have come down in the reality capture discipline, GC’s are producing more success stories than ever before in this niche.
  • Being very tactical and starting with why is a significant factor in the successful implementation of new technology. Why is our team asking for this? Why does our current process need improvement? How will this impact the project overall? By focusing on the why, innovation teams help circumvent technology fatigue.
  • Solutions leveraging AI, ML, CV, etc., which process and analyze large reality capture datasets are particularly important as “GC’s can [then] spend their human capital on resolving issues instead of finding them.” – Tim Conroy, DPR

The Value-add of Reality Capture today

Traditionally, it was Excel spreadsheets and web forms filled out in the field with crafts and quantities of work put in, or you looked at your pictures, and you filled out a spreadsheet, right? But now, today, I can take photos or a LIDAR scan, and I can go straight to progress in my schedule; I can go straight to quantity – to work installed. And that’s a huge change.“ – Eric Law.

Reality capture has allowed its users to be proactive in managing their projects. It’s taken out the guesswork and replaced it with the ability to analyze complex data with precision and ease. The expert panel outlined the multiple benefits of reality capture for key users:

  • 360 degree images and LiDAR scans enable much more accuracy, granularity, and reliability for progress reporting than any traditional (manual) methods.
  • A fully digital workflow can be realized through analysis of reality capture datasets against a project’s BIM. By facilitating accurate as-built model creation, objective answers can be delivered to GC clients on aspects of quality control, productivity and project cost.
  • Avoiding rework is a direct outcome of robust reality capture analysis. Sometimes, nothing is more costly than delaying a decision and rework has a detrimental effect on both cost AND quality. Smart reality capture delivers continuous insight into what’s happening on your site, so you can make timely decisions and steer clear of adding extra cost.
  • Catching a single critical quality control issue with a reality capture program delivers cost savings that pay for the technology. “If we do the work the first time, and we do it correctly, or we catch any issues before we pour the concrete, that’s a big cost number” 
  • A mature technology ecosystem exists for both vendors and the industry, allowing greater ease of leveraging Reality Capture innovation. Multiple technology advancements, strong priors in 3D information management and reality capture and an innovation mindset in the industry have enabled this favourable climate.
  • Managing expectations of precision and accuracy is critical to successful low-tolerance reality capture applications. If building control isn’t done correctly in the workflow, it’s easy to introduce compounded errors in the data.

The Horizon for Reality Capture & Construction technology

“It’s good to know something early on; the sooner you fix it, the better. But you have to know it, and just capturing the data doesn’t let you know something. So that’s where I think we need to get next. That is absolutely, I think, where Avvir is a key player.” – Brian Ringley.

As we look at the next five years, we asked our panelists what they’re most excited to see emerging in the reality capture space. These are some of the game-changing trends and innovations they are looking forward to. 

  • Once fully rolled out, 5g will be the catalyst for all of the tools currently available to work more efficiently – faster, smarter and in real-time.
  • Real-time scan registration. Cloud processing in minutes not hours. Instant reports of progress for a Superintendent with an iPad onsite. The ability to leverage AI to check “every nut and bolt”. “The real big advancements are going to come on the processing side” – Eric Law – Swinerton.
  • “AI is becoming meaningful in construction, through the provision of easy to use computer vision models, and scan feature recognition models that allow you to take this level of continuous reality capture and make sense out of it [is where we need to get next]. Because otherwise, what you end up doing is you end up moving the bottleneck.” – Brian Ringley – Boston Dynamics
  • Data analytics and digital workflows that deliver to GC’s a business solution that truly lets them know what’s happening on-site in a continuous state. And down the road, our panelists are looking towards deep learning algorithms which make recommendations on how to solve issues that arise. 

“If SpaceX can land a rocket on a floating barge in the middle Pacific Ocean, we should be able to do anything in construction.” – Eric Law – Swinerton

We’ve covered a lot of information here, but another reality is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to gain a deeper understanding of reality capture and analysis, you can view the full panel discussion here. Or, you can request a meeting with our team for a demo to understand how Avvir can help your business.