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ICDAS for VDC in the 4IR

Virtual Design & Construction

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Where are we in the industry?


The original Industrial Revolution 1784 was driven by discovery that people could use water and steam powers to do all kinds of interesting things. It was followed by additional revolutions for electricity, computers and communications technology knowing as the Second Technological Revolution 1870 and the Third Digital Revolution 1969. We are now in early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Cyber-physical systems, also called the Industry 4.0 (4IR) which comes originally from Germany 2011, and as YouTube since 2013. The Industry 4.0 has already been implemented in many fields around us in 2017. It brings together digital, physical and biological systems. It is about what is natural and what is artificial, and will act on every field of the human life. One of the features of this Fourth Industrial Revolution is that it doesn’t change what we are doing, but it changes us [Klaus Schwab, Founder & Chairman, World Economic Forum]. It is about creation of a new story about how we want to live [Stewart Wallis, New Economics Foundation, UK].





Also in 2017 a Danish platform called Build 4.0 created as the building's response to the Industry 4.0 as an international perspective. The platform build40.dk is open to everyone in relation to developing and collaborating. It refers to e.g. the use of robots in the construction, 3D printing additive manufacturing of materials and construction parts, and utilization of drone technology for measuring and monitoring of construction sites. Also concepts like BIM, virtual reality, augmented reality, cloud services which together can be called ‘Virtual Design and Construction’ as an essential part of the Build 4.0.





Virtual Design and Construction (VDC)

This section is focused on the 4IR in the field of industry infrastructure, namely Virtual Design and Construction (VDC). VDC maybe has its first theoretical reference in December 2007, Stanford University, Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE). VDC is about designing and then building virtually before building in reality. VDC is implemented in a construction project by workflow of software connected to wearable holograms for HoloLens and Headsets, and where data are stored in the cloud. VDC is in the so-called “Era of connection and immersive computing”, [Autodesk]. VDC refer to many different categories in a construction project. However, the most importance of a project using VDC is not the technology, but the people and the organization behind the project. A success VDC project needed therefore project owner, designer, engineer, contractor and supplier are all participated in the VDC technology from the beginning of project.




VDC software & BIM-tools (Building Information Modeling)


VDC and BIM are easily mixed together where both create work methods to achieve a business goal successfully. VDC is the larger overarching methodology than BIM and VDC doesn’t always involve BIM. VDC is an overall process of utilizing computer technology to make the construction process more efficient, where BIM is one of the tools that can be used in the VDC process (and where BIM can be applied without being considered part of VDC).

Software to VDC are developed by Autodesk, Trimble Connect, Bentley or Graphisoft, being use in BIM. They can broadly be broken into three categories:


› Analysis/collaboration, and

› Project information/cloud computing as listing below, cf. [2016.01]



Autodesk Revit, Vectorworks, Tekla BIM, ArchiCAD, Catia & MicroStation BIM

The software is also called authoring software, used to model geometry and associated information in each element of the model.


Analysis & collaboration

Autodesk Revit, Rhino Grasshopper, Autodesk Navisworks & 360, Synchro, 3-D Max, Innovaya & VEO.

The software applied to quantity takeoffs, project markup, scheduling (time), conflict resolution, code checking, flow analysis, energy analysis or visualisation. Some authoring software, such as Revit, has built-in analysis tools as well. Note that in ICDAS relation, analysis model refers also to structural FEM analysis which verify, modify and optimize dimensions of each component in the construction.


Project Information Management & Cloud Computing

Newforma, GTeams, Autodesk 360 Glue, Trimble Connect & Field.

The software links dada from the model to distribution platforms, which record, organize and track documentation, communication and decision process. These software are typically accessible through any type and device with a web browser.


Cloud Computing allows a greater amount of data to be saved, synced, and accesses instantly across multiple devices. As internet connection is becoming ever faster and more reliable it is possible to move software, data and computational tasks from in-office computers and serves to serves in the cloud, making data accessible from multiple locations and enabling access to multiple types of devices. 


Most often VDC apply BIM 3D, 4D, 5D, 6D & 7D listing below.


BIM 3D Information model (Revit)

The concept of BIM has existed since the 1970s (Building Information Modeling). BIM is a process and Revit is a tool to leverage that process. ICDAS apply Revit as an intelligent 3D model-based process where all data are stored in one file. A Revit 3D BIM model covers 3D geometry AND all information for each element in the model. They can be extracted, exchanged or networked to support decision-making for a project. These information can further be basic input to an additional analyse called 4D-, 5D-, 6D- and 7D BIM as outlined in short below.


BIM 4D Time Scheduling (Synchro PRO, Navisworks)

The BIM 4D estimates completion times for each single activity of a project, using 3D BIM model as input.


BIM 5D Cost Estimating (Sigma Estimates, Navisworks)

The BIM 5D provides cost and budget analysis, technical and economic control for each period of a project, using 3D BIM model as input. 


BIM 6D Operation, Maintenance & Facility Management 

Unlike the 3D to 5D model, there is not an agreement on the meaning of 6D & 7D model. Most platforms work on 6D for Operation & Maintenance and 7D for Sustainability, others on the opposite. ICDAS is referred to the first case. When a construction project is completed, the 6D model is delivered to the project owner (also called the as-built model). The 6D model contains all data relevant for use in operations. The operator can use the 6D data to plan and estimate the future maintenance tasks and replacements of components of the constructions, which can be linked from the 3D BIM model.



The BIM 6D is also called ‘Commissioning & Facility Management (FM)’. From BIM to FM means at project completion, the BIM model must be updated to the “As-built” model, which contains correct and useful data for operation and maintenance. Information on the individual building parts' operating manuals, the manufacturer, links to product pages, contracts etc. can be connected to the building parts from the Revit 3D BIM model. This gives the project owner an overview of when different building parts need to be replaced. 


The BIM 6D provides also processes for managing subcontractor/supplier data and facility component through the entire facility life cycle, from design to demolition.


BIM 7D Sustainability

The BIM 7D Sustainability is about to perform energy consumption, environmental and sustainability aspects for a building (indoor climate, ventilation, lighting), based on the 3D information model as the input.

The BIM 7D is also about using the most climate-friendly materials that have the least impact on the environment, but at the same time are strong enough to withstand the forces of nature. 






VDC hardware & wearable devices

VDC applies hardware and wearable devices in addition to a BIM model, and indicate thereby the difference from BIM to VDC. Tools for a VDC project can broadly be broken into three categories:

Desktop/Laptop/Monitor/Serve/Network/Internet connection

› 3D-Printer/Laser scanners/Drones, and

› Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR Headsets & HoloLens)


Laptop/Decktop/Monitor/Serve/Network/Internet connection (2018-2020)

Laptop example : ICDAS apply PC/Laptop system incl. Laptop DELL ALIENWARE 17 R5 Intel Core i9-8950HK 8th Gen. (6-Core, 12MB Cache, Overclocking up to 5.0GHz). Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 OC 8 GB GDDR5X, 32 GB RAM DDR4 2666 MHz, 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD. This laptop is developed for Virtual Reality using VIVE HTC PRO.

To check laptop for VR in Denmark go to PriceRunner and filter after Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 for the options of Acer, ASUS and MSI laptop. You can also adapt DELL ALIENWARE 17 R5 laptop with specifications listing above.

To check desktop for VR in Denmark go to mm-vision for the above graphics. You can also adapt processor up to i9-7920HK after the needs, pt. 06-05-2020.


For Desktop it is minimum needed a fast file server with a network running at least 1 GBit/second. A very fast wifi network is necessary for mobile use and meetings. The desktop must be able to continuously upgrade components as needed. For monitor, ICDAS recommend 4K resolutions in 43 inches where a developer can work on 10 opening windows. Refer IRIS for Laptop/Desktop using special VDC hardware tools e.g. HTC Vive headset.


3D-Printer/Laser scanners/Drones

3D printing is the final process of making 3-dimensions solid objects from a digital file. It is an additive manufacturing process where an object is created by laying down layers and layers of material until the entire object is created. The additive manufacturing process has been developed for many purposes and is usefully in VDC.

3D Laser Scanner in short can record a “Billion” measurements in the same time a person with a tape measure can record a “100”, cf. Henk Booysen.


Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality / Live Design

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is no longer the future. Actually, the VR technology has been found in 1962 by filmmaker Morton Heilig, and later by scientist Ivan Sutherland who created the first VR headset in 1968. AR technology is attributed to Thomas P. Caudell, a former Boeing researcher in 1990.


VR/AR software and hardware like Virtual Reality Headsets, HoloLens and Oculus Rift will be a standard operation throughout all project phases in forthcoming years. We can already buy these tools for a normal price on web or a nearby shop.


What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to technology that allow for the overlay of digital information on top of physical space, cf. [16.01 p.264]. AR is the blending of virtual reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world. With AR, users are able to interact with virtual contents in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two, cf. [14.04].


What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Virtual Reality (VR) is all about the creation of a virtual world that users can interact with. This virtual world should be designed in such a way that users would find it difficult to tell the difference from what is real and what is not. Furthermore, VR is usually achieved by the wearing of a VR helmet or goggles similar to the Oculus Rift, cf. [14.04]. Starting in April 2016, a number of high performance VR headsets hit the market for the first time, e.g. VIVE HTC. Design in Virtual Reality has been introduced by Autodesk in 2016 and open an era of immersive computing.


Difference and similarities

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are similar in the goal of immersing the user, though both systems to this in different ways. With AR, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. With VR, the user is isolated from the real world while immersed in a world that is completely fabricated. As it stands, VR might work better for video games and social networking in a virtual environment, such as Second Life, or even PlayStation Home, cf. [14.04].


Which technology will succeed?

As it stands, augmented reality is ahead of virtual reality, as there are several products already on the market. On the matter of VR, the technology is just stepping up to the plate. It's still far away from being this great thing for social encounters in a virtual world, but with the rise of the Oculus Rift, it is getting there. Both AR and VR will succeed; however, AR might have more commercial success though, because it does not completely take people out of the real world, cf. [14.04].

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 Updated 22-04-2022






ICDAS  •  Hans Erik Nielsens Vej 3  •  DK-3650 Ølstykke  •   E-mail: th@icdas.dk  •  Tel.: +45 60 53 83 79