2018 has seen some major technical advances in the civil engineering industry. Technology which has historically been referenced as ‘sci fi’ is now being used as mainstream design applications. More emphasis is being placed on virtual reality, sustainability, computer vision, BIM, CIM, and 3D printing technologies. All of which are gaining parallel prominence in the industry. In this article we take a look at just a few of the technological advances and how they are impacting on design and construction processes within civil engineering and what new roles this is creating within the sector.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Although the introduction of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality isn’t new, the use of the technology in civil engineering is.
The civil engineering sector has harnessed user experience, not only to better their team’s vision but also their client’s of the planned construction. Through VR construction projects can be visualised as ‘fait accompli’ well before construction commences by all parties involved in what is a fully interactive and immersive experience.
So, where does Augmented Reality come into the equation? AR has the ability to intertwine graphics and reality to provide field personnel and civil engineers visual details on factors such as, health and safety, productivity statistics and design specifications. This not only helps make their time spent more efficient, but it also helps make their job that little bit easier and identify potential health and safety risks at an early stage – before construction even commences.
Visual Reality and Augmented Reality is anticipated to become mainstream over the next few years within the construction and civil engineering sectors.
3D Modelling - The Use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and City Information Modelling (CIM) in Large Scale Projects
The use of BIM is more than likely to increase in major civil engineering projects in 2019 and beyond.
Engineers are now able to generate their designs as virtual models through a sophisticated 3D modelling process. This process not only has the ability to supply momentum to large scale projects such as the construction of bridges, it can also be a more cost productive, and more efficient use of time when designing.
Anthony Jenkins, Head of Technology at VU.CITY explains, “City Information Modelling (CIM) and smart cities are hot topics at the moment. The industry is getting to grips with BIM, namely managing the lifecycle of a particular scheme. However, we are focussing on the macro level and the impact a scheme/s could have on the wider city or town scape. VU.CITY is uniquely placed to facilitate early decision making, by offering the ability to alter proposals in real time, enabling an instant vision of the differing impacts of various scenarios.”
CIM was a natural extension of the work they were doing in Wagstaff Design, creating immersive (VR) experiences in the real estate sector. They saw a need a drive disruption in a sector that traditionally had been slow to adopt innovative technology. “We wanted to create interactive experiences at the city scale, so VU.CITY felt like the natural way to go. We can already see that it is helping drive transparency and collaboration, particularly within the planning and design process.” Explained Jenkins.
CIM enables users the ability to assess the impact of change in real time, thereby speeding up what has been an iterative paper-based process, which is helping save time and costs throughout the design process.
The new advance of BIM and CIM technology has meant that new roles within the industry are being created. With the increase in popularity of 3D visualisations and use of digital models in general there are now roles being created across the industry for people with backgrounds in software engineering, and particularly gaming.
Along with VR, CIM and BIM, sustainable design is also at the forefront of technological trends within civil engineering. With pressures for companies and governments to reduce carbon footprints and meet global C02 omissions nationally - it is no surprise that it is well supported by both the industry and governments across the western world.
Innovative design utilises; intelligent electrical grids, smart metering and the use of implanted sensors. Advanced materials or smart materials which have shifting properties to accommodate external conditions are also being adopted. Materials such as cement composite, advanced steel, self-healing concrete and fibre-reinforced polymer composites are all changing the way the civil engineering sector use materials in sustainable construction.
4D-printed materials which can adapt their composite features to changes in the environment are a key feature of sustainable design; as they can extend the life of the construction, combat air pollutants, battle C02 omissions, harness energy or significantly reduce production costs.
With the increase in population and decrease in building space for housing developments, the use of sustainable design is a smart and inventive way to maximise space within and outside the home. We will no doubt see an increase in sustainable design and technological features being used in years to come – especially in urban and rural improvement districts.
If you are new to Civil Engineering or you are wanting to work in any of the areas mentioned in this article, please give Conrad Consulting a ring. We have an expert team of Civil Engineering recruiters who would be able to help you.BIM Civil Engineering VR/AR