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AR 3D BIM allows construction professionals to see ‘beyond the wall’

  • 24.11.2022
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BIM Files @ CIT Blaton

The BIM files @ CIT Blaton – embracing 3D BIM visualisation

By Vincent Didriche, Head of Service Engineering at CIT Blaton

Seeing beyond the wall with the power of augmented reality – how CIT Blaton is looking to embrace the power of 3D BIM visualisation

“The BIM schism in the Belgian market is moving slow, but it’s moving, nonetheless. CIT Blaton stands for pragmatic evolution, and we plan to leverage AR technology as a way forward and upward within a more comprehensive long-term construction vision.” 

– Rémy Robijns, Head of Service QSE @ CIT Blaton

Augmented Reality on a construction
Augmented Reality on-site

First established in Brussels in 1865, CIT Blaton boasts an extensive family history, coming from a long line of entrepreneurs in the construction industry. Today, CIT Blaton stands as one of the most forward-thinking leaders in the construction trade with a holistic approach to the ‘art of building’.

With such a storied and trusted reputation, CIT Blaton are an ideal choice for a new ongoing blog series from GenieVision entitled “The BIM Files @…”. We sat down with Vincent Didriche – Head of Service Engineering and Rémy Robijns, Head of Service QSE, both highly involved into innovation, to discuss the company’s belief in seeking progress through innovative solutions, why BIM will no doubt play an important role in the progress of modern construction and the potential for BIM to positively impact projects both now and in the future.

The role BIM must play in the construction industry

The CIT Blaton of today owes much of their success to a long line of entrepreneurs in the construction industry. We’re a family-run business, and that means every project we undertake has a personal touch that defines our take on the ‘art of building’. We do this by combining traditional techniques with cutting-edge innovations, so we’re always looking to invest in emerging solutions and technologies that can further improve our service and better the experience our customers receive. But innovation shouldn’t be embraced for the sake of it – it needs to deliver on that investment.

Like any emergent piece of technology, the application of BIM has the potential to fundamentally change how we plan, adjust and execute our construction projects. However, it’s also important to show patience and ensure this type of innovation is handled correctly and integrated effectively. That comes from helping the BIM evolve by implementing it progressively on different projects, like we did for the Dépôt Vilvoorde.

“Utilising a solution such as GenieVision will enable our teams to provide greater insight for the stakeholders much sooner in the process. We now view a construction or architectural design in a real space through AR with something as simple as a tablet.” 

– Vincent Didriche, Head of Service engineering @ CIT Blaton

Using BIM to accurately plan projects today and tomorrow

We will be using BIM more and more as part of the building process – especially when looking at the full lifecycle of a building. When we plan and begin constructing a building today we naturally consider the condition of a building in 30- or 40-years’ time. We also factor in the possibility that during this period installations may change, so we are actively looking to optimise in terms of cost and yield. That’s where we believe a 3D BIM can make a positive impact; by using it we’re enabling our teams to use AR to gaze into the future.

We’re also acutely aware of a need to address the growing complexities of modern construction requirements (such as constraints in terms of acoustic, sealing, thermal, etc) and the importance of becoming a more carbon friendly industry. Right now, our market is not a very green one, but the hope is to utilise technologies that can help us lead the way in adopting renewable energy methods.

In the mid-term, our aim is to actively change the construction model and get the right resources so we can be truly reactive. BIMs can help us focus on what to act on now and what we can improve next time. We can use a BIM to dismantle the building process, scanning its design to identify potential issues. By having a complete digital ‘twin’ on record, builders can realise a 3D recreation of its architecture and compare its original to-scale design with its current condition. 

There’s even the possibility of combining BIM with other technologies such as AR, so we can apply an additional ‘layer’ to these designs showing the actual placement of cabling behind each ceiling and wall. Our objective is to use this technology to constitute a correct ‘as-built’ design that avoids the costly requirement to dismantle and renovate a project. For us here at CIT Blaton, we see this an opportunity to optimise our investment.

Augmented Reality in Construction
GenieVision's Augmented Reality

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How leveraging BIM already influenced our building practices and “approche métier”

Utilising this technology means adopting it in the right way, while making sure BIM serves the needs of our business, our customers and our industry. The BIM model itself needs to be completely accurate so users can apply it in a pre-planning and on-site setting with full confidence that the 3D BIM is exact to the plan’s specifications. We plan to invest in internal knowhow by having skilled professionals with a pragmatic approach that reflects the market we work in. 

We are continually developing our engineering services, enriching our back office so we are ready and able to absorb changes and actively embrace new technologies that represent our vision of the industry. Because, ultimately, leveraging this technology represents an evolution in the sector, the BIM schism in the Belgian market is moving slow, but it’s moving, nonetheless.

It’s also important to remember that, even though we’ve already been working with it for 5 years, this remains a challenging technology for CIT Blaton and all our stakeholders, and one that’s very much in its infancy in the sector’s everyday procedures. We’re always looking to find solutions to recurrent problems and means of optimising the way we work. One example is how we debriefed with the Royal Belge team, meeting with the TS and engineering team to understand energy waste and identify if there were any issues with the reliability of the architectural model. How do you define the right elevation? How do you check that all objects are accurately positioned? There’s so much to consider when looking for solutions that can meet those requirements.

What is important for us in any case is to always keep ‘une approche métier’ (‘professional trade conduct’) in mind, a principle that defines the reality of our construction projects from start to completion. It is what makes us stand apart from our competitors. And we apply the same standards when evaluating and integrating a BIM tool. How easy is it to use? What are the benefits for the planning and on-site processes? How much of a ROI does to deliver for us as a business? We are excited to see the results of our experiments with GenieVision and the benefits of utilising an AR 3D BIM in our construction projects now and in the future.

Why we’re looking at digital solutions

Ultimately, we’re looking at digital solutions that directly address the issues faced by the construction industry. We don’t want a tool with unnecessary bells and whistles, but a solution that gets to the root of the problem and solves it smoothly and efficiently. For example, utilising an application like GenieVision would enable us to view a construction design through AR with something as simple as a tablet or phone. It makes it easy to use, and directly applicable to projects where our customers want to be able to see an architectural design projected in a real space.

Any applications we adopt also need to integrate with our existing systems, smoothly forming part of our design and consultation process. Being able to collaborate and share ideas is incredibly important to us and a BIM solution is clearly a great way to address this. Whether it’s survey operations on a construction site or document management back in the office, the same needs are addressed by a single digital solution.

As a leading name in the construction industry in Belgium, we have focused on two key objectives for how we are embracing new technologies as part of our ongoing implementation strategy. These are:

  •  Empowerment through knowledge sharing

Assessing and adopting applications and other digital innovations doesn’t just benefit our service, and our customers, but the wider industry. That knowledge sharing goes both ways, too. By providing insight into the building trade, software developers can provide digital solutions that are better suited to the market’s needs, tailoring them to identify specific pain points.

That’s why we’re interested in the practical applications that BIM offers the construction industry. It’s what attracted us to a partnership with GenieVision and its dynamic approach to using AR in the construction design process. Utilising a solution such as this will enable our teams to move faster and provide greater insight for the customer much sooner in the process. If handled correctly, BIM will play an important part in our trade, and we hope leveraging BIM through innovators such as GenieVision will enable us to stay ahead of the curve. In fact, we’re currently experimenting by combining this technology with some of our other software solutions such as Kabandy. 

  • Promote solutions through professional services

As well as ensuring that the right knowledge and insights are effectively distributed, we also believe in the importance of promoting solutions as part of an open and level-headed forum. With a technology partner like GenieVision, CIT Blaton can promote this solution, discuss its advantages and achieve a competitive gain by maintaining a critical mindset.

Thankfully, the Belgian market is a pragmatic one, and people are very open to dialogues and exchanges, so delivering on your brand promise is essential for these new solutions to be successful and seen as a long-term part of the mix. It builds trust in our service; it enhances our offering and ultimately benefits the market.

So, if a piece of software delivers on what it promises for the construction industry, then CIT Blaton believes in promoting it for the greater good of the sector.

Discover how it brings value to your projects

Get the support of GenieVision to access your BIM throughout the lifecycle of your project, from design to conception, and from construction to maintenance.