A construction site scenario: As your truck comes to a screeching halt at the jobsite, you get out putting on your glasses and uttering, “last week report.” A display appears in front of your eyes, putting up all items that were part of the report sought. Glancing at the report, you inspect the site, taking the photos of newly installed structure or plumbing work and comparing them with the older photos of those areas to see the difference. You are able to do it all without lifting a finger, just with a voice command.
Another scenario: Someone wants to find how an apartment will look once it is complete. They can use certain interactive app on their smartphone to view the apartment and the tower in 3D from every angle. Outcome of technology is powerful visualization of the project that is still in making.
This is Augmented Reality (AR) for you!
Construction business is one of those few verticals that are closely linked with technology. IOT (Internet of Things), robots, and automation – all these tools have done their bit for boosting productivity and efficiency in the vertical, while bringing down costs. AR is the latest technology to knock onto construction sites.
AR involves enhancement or augmentation of real-world environments, by superimposing virtual computer-generated images or holograms onto a physical space through special headsets, tablets or smartphones. Peripherals such as Microsoft’s HoloLens help accomplish hands-free use, enabling you to access information while continuing work.
Here is how AR can help you become even more efficient:
Geo-locate objects that are physically not there
AR technology facilitates geo-locating objects and structures that have not yet been installed on the site, but will come up later. You can use AR to ‘see’ hidden elements like cables, underground pipes, and ducts hidden behind a wall, thus finding their exact position.
Help user visualize the finished product on-site
You deploy AR technology for mapping the prospect’s exact location on the site using GPS technology and overlaying BIM (Building Information Modeling) information, thus setting up the user to view the functional model of the project. They are able to ‘see’ functional project and compare it with the current progress. Prospect will have exact information where columns and foundations will be placed, and how will the whole structure look like.
Construction companies are increasingly using this technique to engage prospects early on and avoid costly fixes later. Minneapolis-based construction firm Mortensen has been an early adopter of this technology.
Gain enhanced functionality
AR ensures optimum functionality of the construction. For example, the technology has been successfully used in a hospital construction project for ensuring the hallways were broad enough for a stretchered patient to be moved through with ease. Fixtures in various hospital rooms were positioned optimally for healthcare professionals. This resulted in a welcome situation for hospitals as well as patients.
Make workers more productive
You can equip workers with AR glasses, thus setting aside the need of constantly consulting a laptop or instruction manual. Voice-activated controls and hands-free headsets enable workers to call up diagrams and assembly videos while continuing work, thus beefing up production.
Promote quality control
AR can be effectively turned as a means of quality control. Clicking a photo of the product and comparing it to technical drawings helps in ensuring work was done as stipulated and measurements kept to specified parameters. You can also use AR to ensure workers have all the materials and tools required for completing a task to perfection.
AR is an effective tool for walking workers through construction process as a whole and their particular role, thus acting as a useful training tool for new employees as well as upgrading skillset of existing workers. Technology provides them visual cues for operating machinery and assembling products.
You cannot undermine safety in construction project, can you? Using AR equipment makes it safer for workers on real jobsites with all sorts of hazards. Walking to a specific area of construction with a safety checklist on an AR peripheral certainly assures your workers better.
In a hyper-competitive business environment, technology can help you thrive. Integrating AR, you can enhance your operational ability and boost sales. As the technology becomes better, the ROI is sure to augment.