Rejoice! Augmented Reality has come of age in 2017.

This is great news for commissioning and completions because it’s now straightforward to harness the power of BIM and Augmented Reality (AR) to help you to be more productive right now.

So why only now? Well, despite being formally coined as a term in the 90’s, Augmented Reality has been stuck in the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ until very recently because of hardware and software complications combined with the expense of adoption.

So what’s changed? Primarily, the cost of adopting AR technology has decreased from 10s of thousands of dollars to a few hundred whilst the technology itself has become much more advanced. We’ve seen Augmented Reality emerge in the consumer market with the vast global adoption of Pokémon GO over the last 10 months and this has corresponded with increased levels of uptake in the construction industry.

What is BIM powered Augmented Reality?

Building Information Modelling (BIM) makes it possible to create information-rich, highly coordinated and intelligent digital models that represent all of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility. Augmented Reality can take the virtual BIM model of an object and overlay this model on the real world object as the observer is standing in front of it. This means that the physical world and the virtual model of it are viewed simultaneously.

This is powerful because it enables asset visualisation from any location. Whether inside the facility or at a remote location, AR technology allows project teams to collaborate and share asset information throughout the asset lifecycle. By augmenting deeper levels of information onto what operations and maintenance personnel can see in the facility it allows access to information which would typically be contained in operating documentation. Augmented Reality over the network means that the remote expert can be on site when needed to advise on a problem without having to travel. All of this increases productivity.

Augmented Reality use cases

Augmented Reality has become relevant in all kinds of capacities throughout the asset lifecycle. From operator training and competency, to facility inductions and their maintenance and inspections, to turnaround planning, safety and risk management right through to decommissioning, AR has a beneficial role to play.

The obvious use cases for Augmented Reality are clear to see. Enabling architects and designers to walk through their buildings or for facility operators to look behind walls, floors or ceilings at hidden infrastructure. Augmented Reality also allows excavator drivers to be guided by a VR model and when combined with the BIM model, it enables holes to be drilled in concrete plinths without damaging underlying pipework.

Training with Augmented Reality

For the purposes of training, BIM plus Augmented Reality offers advantages in facilitating learning. By allowing insights into the equipment interior, step by step instructions can be provided to technicians to enable faster learning. This also has the advantage of lowering their error rate when actually on the job. The 3-D BIM model can be augmented onto the actual equipment in the exact place the technician’s tasks have to be performed. The overall training effort is reduced because of this visual support and the use of interactive content in the form of easy to follow checklists and guidance.

Servicing and maintenance with Augmented Reality

As facilities and installations become increasingly complex, the task of maintaining and servicing them becomes increasingly challenging. The repairs and servicing require highly qualified technicians and these people need access to extremely complicated data if they are to perform the repair efficiently. Without readily available data, the technician must resort to paper manuals which only increases downtime and associated costs.

BIM powered Augmented Reality offers an extension to the traditional manual that can be accessed by several technicians in different locations at the same time. The required information about the maintenance task is available from the BIM model in real-time and the AR delivers this information into the work environment for immediate access. Because the model can be accessed by several people in different locations simultaneously, remote specialists can offer advice and guidance at the time the task is taking place.

Completions Connect enables BIM powered Augmented Reality

Completions Connect and Inspection Connect are capable of enabling Augmented Reality throughout the entire lifecycle of an asset.

Completions Connect harnesses the power of BIM to deliver project efficiencies during the entire process. The BIM model is the ‘source of truth’ that all of the teams (and their software) rely on for information throughout the entire asset lifecycle. This means that Augmented Reality can be enabled by Completions Connect through construction, into commissioning, beyond into operations and maintenance and finally during decommissioning.

Completions Connect becomes the enabler by providing the data necessary to create Augmented Reality. This includes data on equipment (tag number, location, model) or maintenance and inspection history which can be pushed to the visual model from one central system. Completions Connect enables centralised and organised availability of this information which would otherwise have to be collected from various disparate systems, documents, and drawings.

For Completions Connect, the most significant use case for Augmented Reality is the ongoing maintenance planning of operational assets. Traditionally maintenance programs have been based on using historical data, inspection records, and 2D engineering drawings to schedule maintenance work orders. This information is held within a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or similar. On execution of a work order and following inspection, information is fed back based on interpretive information collected in the field and the work order is closed out in the CMMS until the next work order is generated.

If we take this a step further and introduce Augmented Reality, we offer an even more intuitive way of accessing digital information from any location. It allows operators to make smart decisions on the maintenance of assets and particularly critical equipment such as pumps and compressors, all based on being able to visually locate where on a plant the maintenance or repair is required. This moves away from the traditional approach which relies on paper documents and interpretive information and provides a real physical environment to interact with. It also means that operators can pull up information on a piece of equipment, refer to operating procedures, safety critical information etc. – all in the augmented environment. Permit to Work processes can also be guided by Augmented Reality because access to real-time data about high-risk areas of facilities based on temperature fluctuations or descriptions of dangerous contents flowing through particular pipes can be provided by Completions Connect.

Benefits of a BIM powered approach to Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality tools are here now and they can be powered by Completions Connect. Taking the leap into AR is viable and it can bring a host of tangible benefits to the operation of your assets today. Some of these include:

  • Reduced OPEX
  • Increased operator competency without the need for mobilising experts to site
  • Reduced need for visits to sites/assets
  • Efficiencies in maintenance work packaging
  • Retention of corporate knowledge and data
  • Improved understanding of safety and risk (contextualisation of incidents)
  • Better collaboration & communication
  • Projects delivered on time and within budget
  • Difficult tasks performed with a lower rate of error
  • On-demand access to important data

Examples of Augmented Reality tools that Completions Connect can enable

Completions Connect can enable any BIM compliant Augmented Reality technology. Our completely open approach allows any platform to have access to all of the plant or project information managed by Completions Connect.

One technology partner we’re working with right now is iConstruct. If you want to get set up with any other Augmented Reality technologies, just give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help!