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UBC exchange - Translink Digital twin

UBC – Translink Exchange Project: 5 value-added outputs and outcomes from the CadMakers’ Digital Construction Twin solution

Posted by: Javier Glatt

Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics reported that the global construction market is set to reach $US17.5 trillion by 2030, and according to Gartner, the global digital twin market was valued at USD $3.8bn in 2019 and is expected to reach USD $35.8bn by 2025.

As we roll into a new decade, the adoption rate of technology within the construction industry is accelerating and driving results that call for smarter building. Deploying digital technologies at scale in the construction industry has the potential to finally address issues that have dogged the industry for decades, such as low productivity, profitability, skilled labour shortages, and sustainability concerns.

That being said, implementing technology without a purpose and/or useful outputs seldom results in desired outcomes. CadMakers’ Digital Construction Twin solution focuses on having a high level of detail that can support all project stakeholders holistically but emphasizes outputs and outcomes for the construction team during the preconstruction and construction phase of a given project. In this blog, we will discuss the multitude of use cases we leveraged from the Digital Construction twin on the UBC Gage Exchange project and the benefits that our Owner/Developer customer, and General Contractor and Trade partners experience.

Project Background:

UBC Exchange is a collaboration project between UBC and Translink, which features an at grade bus loop terminal with Gage residences above, four mid-rise student towers above the transit bus loop podium located east of the Aquatic centre at the core hub of the campus.

Output 1: Construction Coordination

Starting with a fully integrated virtual build of the project before commencing construction, we worked with the project team to identify and address potential constructability risks to reduce the risk of schedule delays and sell back time to the project. This project was enormously enriching because we integrated all Architecture, Structure, MEPF, and Civil disciplines to build a fully integrated model. Working with both the general contractor and sub-contractors we aided in the full coordination during preconstruction to apply feedback to the consultant and design teams and then worked directly with the trades during construction to create fabrication outputs. One example of a diversified application of the digital twin in this project included aiding superfluous communication between the architect and façade fabricator involving coordination of concrete slab edge, concrete curbs, rough openings of the window, and the brick exterior. We leveraged our detailed designs for manufacturing and assembly methodologies to coordinate corner interfaces where the bricks and window meet to ensure a 4″ clearance behind the windows installation.

Output 2: Site Crane Placement Feedback and Coordination: 

The crane is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment on any construction site, and there are several decisions to be made from how many cranes to have, what type of cranes to use, which crane modules to use, and where to place the cranes. Having all these different options results in a challenging cost-benefit analysis that most construction companies do not have the time to undergo. Poorly placed cranes can result in risks to safety and increased bottlenecking due to crane inefficiency. Sites with 1 or even 2 cranes can use manual placement to determine a crane location, however, the task of optimization becomes more challenging as you enter scenarios with 3 or more cranes – as was the case on this project. CadMakers uses automation via numerical analysis to generate the best possible crane placements based on maximum site coverage, minimum overlap, giving our general contractor partners the ability to use data to drive decisions on whether or not the cost of having an additional crane or 2 will pay itself off in construction speed and time savings.

Output 3: MEPF Coordination, Canning Drawings, and Total Station Output

From our experience, MEPF coordination is one of the leading drivers of coordination and constructability issues on site. At CadMakers we coordinate the complete MEPF system with a particular focus on congested distribution zones and synchronizing the horizontal slab ductwork and the vertical plumbing risers in a tower’s closely packed units. With the provided initial layouts and integration of the detailed stud wall build-up, we coordinated and optimized the standard suite layouts with the trades to remove construction coordination problems while enhancing consistency, minimizing offsets, and the overall installation time. We produced slab edge, in-slab duct layout, and canning drawings for concrete detailing sheet metal and plumbing contractors. To maximize efficiency, we also created inputs for the robotic total station for the canning layout, reducing rework and reducing the schedule of installation.

Output 4: Virtual Reality Micro suite Walkthrough Experience

Architectural VR rendering and experiences are gaining increasing traction in the presale and real estate market, while this workflow gives customers more context on a given project, they are typically created near the beginning of a project and do not fully represent the final product that will be delivered to the customer. Our client gave us a unique opportunity to leverage the Digital Construction Twin to visualize the actual space available and the experience an occupant would have with the final product of a micro suite unit. We integrated an interactive VR walkthrough environment for various project stakeholders to visualize the layout’s functionality through Unreal Engine using a data smith model conversion process with added rendering textures.

Output 5: Bus Turn radius Kinematic Simulation and Validation 

At the grade level, the UBC Exchange project features a TransLink bus terminal with several loading bays. Due to the large turn radius of the buses with an east-facing entrance, the northmost loading bay poses the greatest risk to difficult turns and the inability to access that bay. Leveraging the existing construction digital twin, and developing a kinematic rules-based tool to evaluate the bus turn radius, the CadMakers team verified and validated that the Translink buses could achieve the turn with the proposed column locations and spacing before mobilizing for construction. Typically the software and tools required to execute this study would have been tens of thousands of dollars. However, CadMakers was able to leverage existing models and tools to integrate this into our project services adding increasing value to our customer.

Although there may be a high perceived barrier to entry for Digital Construction Twins, for complex projects, the coordination and schedule savings alone will typically bring a return on investment and additional “insurance” to mitigate risk on unforeseen issues. In addition, by having a centralized single source of truth, a multitude of secondary use cases can be leveraged from the twin to study various outcomes upstream such as bus turn simulations, VR usability experiences, and construction site layout and planning and eventually downstream such as digital twins for operations and maintenance and wayfinding.

At CadMakers, we believe that this is only the humble beginning of Digital Twin technology and with the extensive experience that the CadMakers team offers in helping identify and mitigate constructability challenges and develop new use cases to solve difficult problems for our customers, we are excited to push the envelope with customers in the future. Get in touch with us here if you have an exciting collaboration in mind!

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