How Visualizations and 3D Animations Simplify Complexities and Improve Safety Outcomes for Construction Projects

Technically accurate visualizations and 3D animations offer an array of applications and benefits for the construction industry and complex construction projects. From permit approvals and pre-construction planning, through to ongoing asset management, 3D animations deliver previously unattainable technical storytelling capabilities.

Traditionally, the construction industry employed project management tools like Gantt Charts to illustrate construction sequences. However, these traditional tools are complicated, disorganized, and overwhelming—their inefficiencies reduce collaboration and stakeholder management, particularly during the construction process.

The construction industry is rapidly evolving, with visualizations becoming the norm. Visualizations for complex construction projects have enabled builders and contractors to virtually illustrate and analyze a building or facility in its conceptual design stage even before construction even begins.

Industrial visualizations offer a major step-change in how construction projects can be delivered and maintained. They deliver real-time, realistic and technically accurate representations of complex assets, resulting in increased levels of communication, clarity and engagement for all stakeholders. Visualizations can help architects, engineers, contractors and asset owners expedite permits approvals, augment marketing activities, plan the consequence sequence, and manage ongoing maintenance.

Applications for Animations in Complex Construction Projects

Project Planning and Permitting

3D animations can be a vital tool in visualizing and testing development proposals for construction projects. Visualizations can quickly and easily communicate data such as height, floor area, setback, building envelope, shadows, and sight lines. It can illustrate a development’s projected effect on the surrounding area, incorporate planning overlays, and help assess alternative sites and elevations. The succinct, effective illustration of complex details such as these can be essential in obtaining building permits, for project reporting, and regulatory briefings.

Local Community Engagement

Major construction projects can have huge impacts on local communities, making the social licence to operate vital. Ineffective stakeholder engagement can severely damage a company’s reputation and cause delays in obtaining permits, with price tags in the millions of dollars.

3D animations that clearly articulate factors like environmental and social impact, pollution and waste mitigation strategies, construction timelines, and local traffic management plans can be a highly effective way to communicate complex information to the local community. Open and transparent communication with the local community from the planning phase, right throughout the construction process, is essential.

Sales and Marketing

3D animation is a great tool for investor relations and marketing presentations. It can convert complex data into a realistic model that illustrates how an office building, sporting stadium, shopping center or hotel complex will look once complete. This gives potential investors a realistic depiction of the asset in which they are considering investing.

In the case of developments that are being sold ‘off the plan’, 3D animations and renderings enable prospective buyers to see the space from every possible angle, get a feel for size and layout, and view lifelike details like light and shadows. This helps prospective buyers connect with a property before it is even built, facilitating sales. Plus, these animations can be used on websites, in social media marketing, and at trade shows.

Photorealistic renderings enable developers and architects to explore, validate and communicate designs to clients. Architects can win competitive bids by incorporating 3D renderings, flythroughs and walkthroughs in their marketing presentations. Contractors can also win more bids by incorporating construction sequencing animations into tender documentation.

Construction Sequencing

By synthesizing complex data across the architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing disciplines, a 3D animation can be used for construction sequencing. Visualizations can be used to confirm factors like steelwork locations, clearances required, plant and equipment movements, crane schedules, clear work areas, on-site material storage, installation and erection timeframes, and more.

Construction sequencing can identify potential construction issues, on-site clashes, and where material and labor shortages could be encountered. Based on this, designs and schedules can be revised to resolve issues prior to the commencement of construction. This facilitates on-time delivery of projects and—ultimately—cost savings.

Maintenance and Shut Downs

3D animations can used for ongoing asset management and maintenance protocols to help reduce schedule slippage, mitigate safety risks, and alleviate economic concerns.

During maintenance and shut downs, asset owners and operators must communicate with two key stakeholder audiences: shareholders and seniors executives; and the workforce. These two audiences require unique data to satisfy their divergent objectives and concerns.

With maintenance and asset management activities often impacting company revenue, shareholders and senior executives want to know the process involved, and likely risks. A 3D animation can communicate this information quickly and accurately—telling the shutdown story via an easily digestible, high level configuration.

A second animation can be created for the workforce that contains more detailed information, outlining step-by-step how the maintenance works need to be executed.

Education and Training

In the construction sector, staff are at risk of exposure to dangerous situations. 3D animations can help mitigate these risks. Animations are imbued with capabilities that ‘normal’ videos simply do not possess. They can zoom in to a microscopic level, display the internal workings of machinery that are not visible to the naked eye, and depict processes that might be too dangerous to film with a camera. All of this functionality can help staff better understand maintenance procedures and construction sequences, improving site safety.

Visualizations can even be used to replicate dangerous scenarios, such as a fire at a construction site. This animation could describe processes for preventing injury to staff, extinguishing the fire and ensuring the site is safe for work.

By simplifying complex stories for a wide variety of stakeholders, animations for complex construction projects affords the construction industry a whole host of benefits right across the Design-Build-Manage lifecycle.