Data Center World 2023 - How a single construction issue caught in VR saved $26,500

We present a Navisworks to VR workflow with Meta Quest that enabled 50 project stakeholders across 10 different disciplines to easily review building models for accessibility and safety issues.

On May 10, 2023 we presented at Data Center World 2023 alongside Mortenson Construction. Our session, titled How virtual reality reduces risk on new data center construction, explored the use of VR on a hyperscale data center project in Dekalb, Illinois. The clips below are highlights from the session.

With demand for data centers forecasted to continue rapidly growing, it's critical for companies to figure out how to build fast without sacrificing quality or incurring high cost of ownership post construction.

What if you could walk through your facility before it was built?

Ryan Zoldan, an Integrated Construction Manager at Mortenson, provided his perspective on how projects like hyperscale data centers traditionally review designs to get ahead of issues that may come up during construction or after turnover.

Unfortunately, screen sharing Navisworks is error prone. Navis is great for clash detection but you need to be a mouse and keyboard ninja to quickly fly through a model. You shouldn't have to wait until your first site walk to spot accessibility issues that were hidden in plain sight in your 3D model. What if you could walk through your facility before it was built?

BIM reviews with 50 VR headsets across the US

We presented a Navisworks VR workflow that enabled 50 project stakeholders across 10 different disciplines including operations to easily review building models for accessibility and safety issues.

Equipped with Meta Quest 2 headsets, team members were able to virtually walk through a Navisworks file of the data center more easily. Even operations technicians who had never used 3D software before were able to participate in the virtual reviews after a few minutes of learning to use the headset.

"I've been on projects where we've had traditional virtual reality, which takes a lot longer to prepare and to get ready. And maybe only five people use it, and it's usually just the VDC people on the project site. So this was a pretty eye-opening experience of what we can use VR for in our coordination process."

The power of Resolve's Wellington Engine enabled anyone on the team to use standalone, wireless VR headsets like the Quest 2 to easily review project models. VR was not limited to just the VDC team because it was so easy to use. Despite being a fully federated hyperscale data center model, the Navisworks file ran flawlessly on the Quest 2 without everyone needing for a gaming PC or large GPU.

The accessibility issue that saved $26,500

Throughout the course of the coordination process, data center operations technicians would review models in VR and provide comments on potential accessibility, maintenance, and safety risks. One technician spotted a light fixture that blocked access to electrical feed boxes. If left unnoticed, the team would've received this feedback during a site walk resulting in a $26,500 change order to rip things out.

This is only one example of the types of issues that teams are able to more easily identify with VR. Ryan shared another example of conduit stubs that were too high to access and were easily fixed by adding 90 degree bends. That issue saved the team $13,000 by avoiding a change order.

The VR reviews surfaced over 600 comments from the project team and about 10% of those comments were high impact issues like the ones described above. These items quickly add up to become substantial budget overruns. With VR, teams can be more confident that they're not allowing these issues to slip through the cracks and they can address them when they're still just model changes and nothing needs to be reinstalled.

From Navisworks to VR

The Mortenson team was able to seamlessly integrate VR reviews into their existing sign off process. Resolve added a supplemental way to review Navisworks models so that they could minimize the risk of field changes.

With Resolve's integration for Autodesk Construction Cloud and BIM 360 Docs, the team was able to automatically go from Navisworks to VR whenever a new model version was published.

Do you want to upload your own BIM to review in VR? Sign up for a free trial.

Resolve builds software that makes 3D building information models more accessible so teams can find critical issues that save time and money on new construction. Resolve's Wellington Engine can render large BIM files on the standalone VR devices making it a scalable, easy to use solution for project teams. Resolve is used by leaders spanning industries like water treatment, data centers, biopharmaceuticals, and green energy.