Virtual and augmented reality

International Construction

Industry commentators have been discussing the benefits of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) for many years. The benefits in terms of training, marketing and planning are obvious, but they also have the ability to improve efficiency and worker safety by providing insights that established technologies cannot offer. Although the two are often confused, it is the widespread adoption of AR that has the potential to revolutionise all aspects of the construction sector.

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Another use of this technology is through simulators which can be used to train operators before their equipment even arrives. Drew Carruthers, product line manager for construction products at CM Labs Simulations, directs the development of his firm’s Vortex construction equipment simulators, which are designed to cut costs and increase productivity. They are used for mobile or tower cranes, backhoes, excavators and wheeled loaders.

“The growth potential for this technology in construction is huge, as cost of technology comes down,” said Carruthers. “Mixed reality tools, which merge real and virtual environments, will likely be the next frontier for safety, operations, communications and inspections in construction.”

Conewago Enterprises, a design-build general contractor in the US, uses CM Labs’ Vortex construction equipment simulators to reduce operator training costs. It previously rented equipment and hired instructors for one-on-one training, but now says it has cut training costs by 60% by using the simulator for rough-terrain cranes, crawler cranes, excavators and wheel loaders. The strategy has also increased pass rates for its trainees in crane operator certification exams.

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