What is Virtual Design and Construction (VDC)?

October 24, 2023

Efficient and collaborative construction practices can make the difference between success and failure on a project– and for your company. Outdated practices, such as reliance on hand-drawn documentation, isolated project planning across trades, and inadequate safety measures, hinder efficiency and drain valuable time and resources. 

Enter Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), a cutting-edge approach to construction that seamlessly integrates 3D modeling, project planning, and real-time collaboration. VDC streamlines project management and coordination, enhances safety, reduces waste, and significantly improves overall project efficiency. In an industry where every detail counts, VDC empowers construction teams to meet the demands of complex projects with competence and confidence.

What is Virtual Design and Construction (VDC)?

Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is an advanced construction methodology that integrates digital technologies, 3D modeling, and real-time collaboration to plan, design, and manage construction projects more effectively. VDC involves the creation of a digital twin of the physical project, allowing stakeholders to visualize, analyze, and optimize every aspect of the construction process from conception to completion.

In contrast to traditional construction practices, VDC offers a transformative shift in efficiency and precision. While traditional methods often rely on manual drawings, physical prototypes, and fragmented communication, VDC employs digital tools to create a comprehensive, real-time representation of the project. This enables better team coordination, enhances design and construction accuracy, reduces costly errors, minimizes rework, and accelerates project timelines. VDC ultimately empowers construction projects with data-driven decision-making and the ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions, setting a new standard for efficiency and quality in the industry.

What’s the Difference Between VDC and BIM?

While VDC and Building Information Modeling (BIM) are often used interchangeably, there are critical differences between the two. VDC is a comprehensive digital approach to construction, whereas BIM is a single component of VDC. In addition to BIM, VDC also includes Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE) and Product Production Management (PPM). 

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building or infrastructure project. BIM focuses primarily on creating a detailed, data-rich 3D model encompassing a project's design, construction, and operational phases, enabling architects, contractors, and trades to collaborate and manage information throughout the project lifecycle. BIM emphasizes creating and exchanging information, fostering better communication and decision-making in construction.

In contrast, VDC is a broader and more encompassing approach that often includes BIM as a component. VDC extends beyond the 3D modeling aspect of BIM and encompasses a holistic strategy for optimizing the entire construction process. VDC leverages advanced technologies like 4D scheduling (time), 5D cost estimation (cost), and 6D facility management (facility operations) to enhance project planning, coordination, and execution. While BIM is primarily a modeling and information-sharing tool, VDC integrates these models into a holistic framework that focuses on improving efficiency, safety, and collaboration throughout the construction project's lifecycle. VDC is a more comprehensive methodology that builds upon the foundation of BIM to drive more significant construction process optimization.

Components of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC)

There are three main components of VDC: Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE), Building Information Modeling (BIM), and Product Production Management (PPM). 

  1. Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE) emphasizes real-time collaboration among all project stakeholders, from architects and engineers to contractors and suppliers. It promotes open communication and simultaneous input from various disciplines to streamline decision-making and problem-solving throughout construction. ICE ensures that everyone involved in the project works together cohesively, reducing delays and errors while optimizing project outcomes.
  2. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the digital backbone of VDC. BIM involves creating a detailed 3D model of the project that contains visual representations and data-rich information about every element within the construction process. This model allows teams to visualize, analyze, and simulate various aspects of the project, including design, construction sequencing, cost estimation, and facility management.
  3. Product Production Management (PPM) optimizes construction production and assembly processes. PPM integrates lean construction principles and advanced manufacturing techniques to enhance productivity, reduce waste, and improve the quality of construction projects. It involves efficient planning and coordinating resources, materials, and labor to ensure that construction processes are carried out efficiently and effectively. PPM ultimately aims to streamline production processes to meet project timelines and budget constraints while maintaining high-quality standards.

Benefits of VDC

Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) offers a myriad of benefits, transforming siloed construction processes into a holistic manner. One significant advantage is improving project visualization and communication through 3D modeling. By creating detailed digital models of construction projects, VDC empowers stakeholders to understand better and visualize the result. This shared visual understanding fosters more effective communication among architects, engineers, contractors, and clients. It bridges the interpretation gap, reducing the chances of misunderstandings and misalignments in project objectives. Consequently, this enhanced visualization not only cultivates more efficient collaboration but also minimizes errors and discrepancies in project planning and execution, ultimately leading to substantial cost savings through reduced rework and minimized waste.

Furthermore, VDC greatly enhances coordination between project teams, ensuring that various aspects, from design to construction, are seamlessly integrated. This coordination enables a more efficient allocation of resources in terms of labor and materials, optimizing their utilization and reducing unnecessary expenses. Moreover, projects under VDC tend to stay on schedule more successfully due to streamlined workflows, precise planning, and reduced disruptions caused by errors or delays. Beyond efficiency gains, VDC also elevates safety standards for workers by identifying potential hazards in the digital model, allowing for preemptive safety measures and protocols to be implemented, thus significantly mitigating risks on construction sites. VDC revolutionizes construction management by concurrently addressing visualization, coordination, cost efficiency, timeliness, and safety, making it an indispensable tool in the modern construction industry.

Maximize the Benefits of VDC with Dusty Robotics

Historically, the coordination and accuracy of VDC models have been lost in translation during manual layout and construction. Until now. Automated multi-trade layout with Dusty Robotics FieldPrinter maximizes the benefits of VDC, bringing the value of VDC accuracy, collaboration, and trust directly into the field. 

Dusty Robotics FieldPrinter leverages your VDC model to automatically print the coordinated layout directly on the construction site surface, ensuring that what is designed is actually what gets built. By automatically printing the coordinated model, layout, and installation carry the same accuracy, efficiency, and quality as the optimized VDC model. 

Discover how Skanska, one of the world’s most significant construction and development companies, used the Dusty FieldPrinter to complete a world-class healthcare facility 3 months ahead of schedule and 3 million dollars under budget. 

Dusty Robotics Team
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October 24, 2023