VolkerWessels demonstrates a powerful modular approach to 3D solutions for AEC

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Earlier this year Dutch AEC firm VolkerWessels shared a promo on YouTube that might have looked relatively unremarkable to the untrained eye, given the current state of 3D technology. On top of music that wouldn’t be out of place in a Nintendo game from the mid-‘90s, the video shows how teams capture 3D data on the job site and put it to use for a number of purposes–from daily check ups to granular progress monitoring.

I dug in deeper by contacting BIM process manager Stijn van Schaijk, and learned there’s an important lesson at play here: the video shows how VolkerWessels has adopted a modular-style approach that allows them to pick and choose the 3D functionality they need—by project, and even down to the level of user—with hardly a hiccup. The other lesson is that there are still challenges we have yet to solve to make 3D capture and processing as easy as it can be on the job site.

Here’s a quick Q&A that illustrates my point:

Sean Higgins: What tools are you using to capture these job sites?

Stijn van Schaijk: We use several tools, depending on the user. We use Pix4D BIM Cloud for our superintendents. Since this tool is super easy to use, it is perfect for daily quick checks. They use it on a daily basis to compare the scans with 2D drawings.

In addition, we have used Reconstruct to compare our scans with our IFC models, but we have seen that this approach is more complex for our daily users on the construction site. We see a lot of potential for this tool and workflow, but also see that it takes more energy to implement on all of our projects.

Did you create any of your own solution for any part of this process? I know some firms use proprietary 3D tools.

We did not create a specific solution ourselves—we combined several solutions. We captured data using drones and drone cameras. We stored the data in one place on our own servers. We looked at the data with several tools (Pix4D, Reconstruct) depending on the user who wanted to look at the data.

What’s the power of this approach for VolkerWessels?

By combining several tools we use the power of each tool when needed for the job you need to do. We do not believe that there is only one tool you want to use. We believe that our data needs to be in a central place and that we have to use this data within several tools.

These tools are replaceable when new and better tools become available. The data stays backed up outside these tools.

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About Author

SPAR 3D Editor Sean Higgins produces SPAR 3D's weekly newsletters for 3D-scanning professionals, and spar3d.com. Sean has previously worked as a technical writer, a researcher, a freelance technology writer, and an editor for various arts publications. He has degrees from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he studied the history of sound-recording technologies. Sean is a native of Maine and lives in Portland.

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