Latest trends in the AEC Industry

The AEC industry has been advancing at an incredible pace like never before. In this blog, we will be discussing the latest trends in the AEC domain.

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The AEC industry has been advancing at an incredible pace like never before. Technological integrations are being adopted within the various sectors of the AEC industry, and tremendous outputs are obtained. As the technology develops in the future, more possibilities are open for the AEC domain. In this blog, we will be discussing the latest technological trends in the AEC industry!

Digital Twins

Digital Twins are progressively making their way into the AEC Domain. A digital twin can be defined as a virtual model of a building that collects real-world information regarding the structure via sensors, drones and/or other wireless technology.

A digital twin is also commonly referred to as a BIM-IoT integration. BIM (Building Information Modelling) allows architects, engineers and contractors to collaboratively plan, design, build and manage the various physical and functional characteristics of a building using 3D models; whereas IOT (Internet of Things) encompasses devices and sensors that have built-in wireless connectivity. These are deployed into the built environment and has the ability to extract real-time data and give crucial information regarding the performance of the various components.

The “twin” can continuously learn from multiple sources, including advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine-learning algorithms, to gain valuable insights into the performance, operation and profitability of a project, whether built or in progress.

Digital Twin
A digital twin created by Techture.

This technology can be used for Facility management where graphical BIM models will automatically give real-time data such as energy usage, service requests, and preventative maintenances alerts. As a result, you can continuously monitor your live asset and get the most out of it.

AR, VR & MR

The use of Virtual Reality technology in construction projects is becoming increasingly common. For example, it enables you to take a stroll around the virtual building and see how it would look once the construction is complete. VR helps to better understand the project for everyone involved: Clients, Contractors, Subcontractors etc. With the recent developments in VR, instead of putting on a pair of huge VR glasses, all you’ll have to do is hold up your smartphone and experience it. This technology is going to see great growth in the coming future.

AR (Augmented Reality) means adding digital information to the real world around. The uses of AR in construction are diverse. For example, Augmented Reality technology can illustrate the various MEP installations in an existing building, such as how a pipe runs through a wall or a roof or even understand how the structural fabrication would look at a specific location.

Mixed Reality (MR) is a combination of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality(AR). This means that the virtual component in question is anchored so well in reality that it seems to be a part of the real world, just like a hologram.

With the implementation of this technology, a building owner can walk out to their site, put on their glasses and explore their as yet unbuilt asset/building in full scale. You can observe how it will look if you make a couple of tweaks or even zoom in on the various details of the building. You can also go into the house and have a complete experience before it is even built, see the views from different windows, check how moving a wall will affect the feel of the room and much more. This technology will also be of significant importance to the installation industry.

Mixed Reality
Source: Trimble

Generative Design

Generative design is a technology that takes an approach towards engineering that we’ve never seen before in the digital sphere. It replicates an evolutionary approach to design, holding all of the fundamental and necessary characteristics. Couple this with the latest high-performance computing and cloud technologies, and you’re left with capabilities that engineers never thought they would possess.

Generative design uses artificial intelligence and machine learning ( AI & ML) to mimic a design approach similar to nature. It interfaces with engineers by allowing input design parameters to generate an outcome.

The onset of practical artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms has facilitated mainstream generative design tools. This means that engineers can create thousands of design options inherent to their digital design and select whichever design meets their needs to the fullest.

Suppose you have loads in specific locations, or you need to maintain certain material thicknesses or even keep certain costs; in that case, all these data points can be fed into the generative design tools. After you run the program and let the algorithms do their thing, you receive generative designs that meet your input criteria. You can then cycle through the multiple options and then pick a design that is appropriate and optimized for your design end goals and modify from there. In short, it takes you down a digital shortcut to optimizing the perfect design as per the requirements.

Generative design options example
Source: https://www.autodesk.com/solutions/generative-design/architecture-engineering-construction

The advantages of generative designs are numerous. It becomes apparent when you consider just what it takes to get started with any building design. It opens a new dimension for the architects, structural engineers etc., to get an optimized design as per the end goals within a shorter period than the conventional methods.

Recently, Autodesk Revit 2021 (AEC Collection) has brought in the Generative design functionality to it. Generative design is going to play a very pivotal role as we move into the future! Along with the growth of artificial intelligence, machine learning, design automation and other technologies, this will definitely be a game-changer in the BIM industry!

Cloud Collaboration

Cloud technology plays a crucial role in facilitating BIM-based collaboration between multiple stakeholders and disciplinary groups for complex AEC projects.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, companies were forced to adapt to work from home strategies, and they realised the power of cloud technology. This change in trend has been a challenge to the AEC industry, but it has adapted very well. Different technical teams and their members were dispersed worldwide and started adopting cloud services to collaborate and continue working on their BIM projects uninterruptedly.

Even Common data environments (CDE) are being hosted on the cloud, and all the employees get access to the latest BIM data regarding their project. One example of a platform like this is planBIM. planBIM is a cloud-based software that has been termed as the next-generation platform for BIM management. Each team member gets access to the latest version of the BIM data and can also store the BIM documents such as BIM Execution Plans (BEP’s), Exchange Information Requirements (EIR’s), etc. on the cloud. In addition to this, you also get a 3D viewer, which enables you to view the BIM file your working on directly on the cloud!

Along with this, the deployment of 5G services by the telecom sector across the globe is also giving access to high-speed internet to the commoner, which will further accelerate the adoption of cloud services or cloud platforms for BIM Collaboration, BIM management etc. in times to come.

Cloud Collaboration

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These are just a few of the trends, and there are much more possibilities within the AEC domain for technology integrations. The industry is much more advanced than we thought it would be a decade ago, and with the extensive development of the technology sector that we see today, we can assuredly say that the AEC industry is bound to have a great future ahead!

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