The building industry has a long history of overcoming complex challenges, including navigating the restrictions of a global pandemic and staying competitive in an uncertain business climate. Now, technology is dramatically reshaping the construction industry, helping builders remain resilient, work more efficiently, and operate with less risk. In particular, advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer vision are helping to resolve larger issues facing the industry, such as productivity and jobsite safety, while enabling dramatic operational improvements and creating exciting opportunities for firms to separate themselves from the competition.
One of the most innovative technologies transforming construction processes is known as reality capture. Reality capture solutions enable builders to digitally capture, share, and analyze real-world site conditions. These solutions can be based on laser scans, drone images, smartphone photos, or, in the case of OpenSpace, high-resolution 360° images. Typically, these 360° images are captured by a camera that is mounted on a hard hat during a site walk. Once uploaded to the cloud, project stakeholders can do a virtual site walk, accessing the images from their desks or anywhere in the world to see site conditions in near-real time and spot issues quickly. Here, we’ll explore the benefits of reality capture technology and the reasons why it can help future-proof your business.
The Rise of Reality Capture
From shipyards to new hospitals to banks to government structures, reality capture technology is delivering considerable benefits to the construction and real estate industries. Not only does it enable people across the globe to collaborate more effectively, but it also puts buildings and physical spaces into the cloud. Reality capture has unlocked substantial operational improvements for GCs, trades, and owners. The technology also empowers project teams with advanced “superpowers”—including the ability to “X-ray” walls, ceilings, and slabs to see work installed without needing to resort to destructive investigations and resulting expensive rework.
Reality capture is one of the fastest-growing technologies seen on construction sites around the world since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic provided a vital rationale for adoption, the technology continues to be increasingly important to project teams due to its positive impact at every stage of construction, from preconstruction to handoff.
OpenSpace is a leader in 360° reality capture and AI analytics, with products that visually document construction sites with unmatched speed and simplicity and quantify jobsite progress automatically. Using reality capture technology like OpenSpace, builders can significantly streamline many of their processes, leading to substantial cost savings on single projects and projects across an entire company. For small and large builders, these numbers can add up quickly. From reducing travel and improving communication to strengthening project management capabilities, companies using reality capture are seeing a significant return on their investment.
Reality Capture Significantly Cuts Costs
One driving force behind the building industry turning to reality capture software like OpenSpace is that the technology has been proven to reduce operating expenses by improving processes and streamlining workflows. Compared with manual documentation methods, AI-supported 360 capture dramatically reduces the time required for site documentation, driving down costs. For example, lesser skilled workers (even interns) can perform site walks to capture projects, lowering labor costs and freeing up teams to focus on less tedious work.
Also, with 360° capture, teams no longer need to spend countless hours searching for photos since their entire projects are documented from all angles in an immersive, Google Street View-like environment. Also, because OpenSpace automatically pins jobsite images to floor plans and users can put images in shared online folders, teams can perform essential functions like scheduling, estimating, verifying installed work, and conducting QA/QC inspections remotely, greatly reducing the need to travel to sites. In fact, OpenSpace customers report saving as much as 50% on travel expenses.
Moreover, project teams can pull up jobsite capture images in OAC and coordination meetings to quickly get on the same page, make data-driven decisions, and expedite approvals so that projects move forward without delays. OpenSpace also recognized that a trusted shared record of a job takes the overall risk out of projects, so we sought out partnerships with insurance carriers. Customers are therefore taking advantage of another notable benefit — reduced insurance premiums from carriers that understand how reality capture software reduces risks and simplifies claims.
In addition, teams using OpenSpace can avoid destructive investigations and rework with the BIM Compare feature that displays side-by-side comparisons of current site conditions and models to spot discrepancies early before they become costly to correct. With this feature, teams can “see behind walls” by simply viewing previous captures to know what work was installed without having to break into surfaces to find out. Teams can also track progress across time by viewing a side-by-side comparison of any captured area from two different dates.
Gaining Efficiency with Reality Capture
Manually capturing and cataloging thousands of images over the lifespan of a project entails considerable time and resources. Alternatively, AI-supported 360° capture simplifies and accelerates documentation and other core business processes, creates more transparency with stakeholders, grants real-time access to site conditions, and enables better collaboration with trade partners.
For example, teams can conduct virtual walkthroughs of sites in the pre-con phase to make bids more efficient. Reality capture also improves scheduling and helps companies better allocate crews thanks to the ability to track progress with a trusted comprehensive record of the job. In turn, teams can resolve disputes and claims faster and later make punch lists and closeout packages more efficient.
OpenSpace has simplified the process of creating field notes and RFIs, allowing teams to spend more time building and less time going through files to gather and share important information. Instead, teams can quickly capture project information and document problems or concerns in detail. Teams can also leverage powerful integrations with Procore, Autodesk Construction Cloud (BIM 360 & Build), and PlanGrid. Viewing OpenSpace directly from these tools removes the back-and-forth and double entry. Plus, these integrations make it easy to export image data directly into RFIs, observations, and more.
360° reality capture also enables powerful new QA/QC and safety capabilities—unrivaled transparency and access to more robust imagery give project teams the ability to conduct remote quality control and inspections. The software helps identify safety hazards and can even be leveraged as a point of reference following project completion to assist owners and facilities teams with maintenance and operations.
Achieving Higher Revenue with Reality Capture
In addition to cost-saving and efficiency benefits, reality capture can also help builders win more business. For example, accessing reality capture data and analytics from past projects enables smarter, faster, and more informed bids. Companies also can increase revenues with the ability to finish projects on schedule and complete more projects in a year.
Moreover, owners are more likely to hire contractors that can prove they are using the best tools to save time and stay under budget. Indeed, OpenSpace customers often report that their demonstrated commitment to innovation strengthens their brands, giving them a competitive edge when they compete for new projects. With the trust they build with OpenSpace, customers are finding that owners want to work with them on future projects, often requiring the technology.
Owners Benefit from Smoother Handovers with Reality Capture
The digital transformation sweeping the industry has unlocked massive opportunities for commercial property investors and developers in particular. They seek to ensure projects are delivered on time, under budget, and with the best quality construction. They aim to mitigate risks long after construction is complete, so they must give their facilities maintenance teams the right data to care for the building over its entire lifecycle. It is essential for them to have an accurate record of what was built and when — a record that is ideally well-organized and accessible.
In the world of traditional, paper-based construction, companies have faced financial and operational challenges in meeting these conditions. Builders and owners alike have had to contend with onerous manual processes, spotty documentation, costly rework, insurance headaches, and other woes. However, 360° reality capture removes those obstacles by enabling smoother hand-offs when the design and construction phases of building projects are complete. Reality capture technology can play a big role in organizing and memorializing the takeover phase — teams now have a complete digital record of the site to share prior to taking over the property.
Start Your Company’s Innovation Journey Today
To be competitive and successful amid growing complexity in the industry and economic uncertainty, construction companies can leverage technology to standardize their operations and deliver an optimal client experience that meets rising expectations. Reality capture creates greater transparency to streamline operations and mitigate risk. It enables construction businesses to become more agile and adaptable.
At OpenSpace, we are grateful that our tools helped companies quickly acclimate to remote collaboration during the pandemic and are committed to continuous innovation and delivering reliable and easy-to-use products — builders know that field teams must embrace and adopt a technology in order for it to be successful.
To keep exploring, download a free whitepaper from OpenSpace containing detailed customer examples demonstrating the value of reality capture technology throughout the building lifecycle and an ROI calculator to explore how the technology might benefit your own company.