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(iViC) : Immersive Visualisation for Construction

This project seeks to significantly improve the accessibility and communication of digital building model data to critical stakeholders, throughout the construction process. The project will utilise the latest immersive visualisation technologies and software, which have had a significant impact in the automotive industry in recent years, reducing cost and time to market whilst improving quality. By taking best practice technologies and processes, and adapting and optimising them for application in the construction industry, the project will demonstrate genuine time and cost savings through a "right first time" approach, on a £14M housing development, with planning permission application scheduled for July 2012.

Partners include an architect, housing developer, software company, visualisation technology specialist and a university, and the innovation will be the adaptation of best practice tools and processes and their application in a construction environment. An objective of BIM is to build a digital virtual prototype in order to fully resolve design issues whilst still in digital format.

This project will draw on knowledge and processes from automotive and product design industries where the use of "digital prototyping" and the central storage of digital data for access by different design and manufacturing functions, and is being applied with demonstrable benefits of improved quality, and savings in time and cost.

This research proposal focuses on improving the means of communicating the digital BIM data to those constructing the building. Fundamental to the optimal use of design data held in the model is the compatibility and accessibility of the data for all stakeholders in design and construction. The proposal uses a new residential project being developed by Hyde Housing in North West London (Stonebridge 10) as a vehicle for researching how advanced modelling could meet these improved performance targets, and for demonstrating the resulting benefits over the course of its construction.

The project will use the latest design and architectural software tools, coupled with state-of-the-art immersive visualisation, firstly as a design tool to identify potential defects early in the process, and will utilise the enhanced capability to communicate design intent by integrating design consultants, contractors and their specialist sub-contractors and suppliers into the design process, leveraging their input and collaboration early on to achieve a "right-first-time" approach to the construction.

Furthermore, the project will maintain access to the digital building model data in an immersive environment throughout the construction phase, in order to give all those involved the ability to interrogate the full 3D model on-site. This will be achieved through a prototype, modular visualisation facility that will be used for technical design meetings, sequence planning, and potentially for marketing. In addition, wireless access to the data via tablet PC (or similar) will give trades supervisors immediate access to the digital model from anywhere on site.

This will be tested on a live construction project with KPIs agreed at the outset to measure how the goals of improved quality (including the higher performance standards demanded by low carbon construction), consistency of product, reduced cost and faster delivery have been met.


Inside-out: Statistical methods for Computed Tomography validation of complex structures in Additive Layer Manufacturing

Additive layer Manufacturing (ALM) is a "3D printing" technique which develops products directly from their digital design data by the layer-wise addition of material. It is widely regarded as having great promise, especially for its capabilities to respond cost-effectively to changing customer demand and its ability to create objects with complex internal structure.

At present a major difficulty holding back ALM is the problem of determining the extent to which the digital design has been correctly realized by the process: direct verification typically involves lengthy analysis of individual manufactured objects using Computed Tomography (CT) scans, tending to vitiate the advantages of ALM for general purposes. The purpose of this project is to explore methods by which this quality assurance process may be carried out more rapidly. The investigation will be carried out by a close collaboration between engineers and statisticians at Warwick using statistical techniques including random fields, false discovery rate methods, and ideas from stochastic geometry.

PVCIT (Premium Vehicle Customer Interface Technologies)

This is a Centre of Excellence part funded by Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and EPSRC (WIMRC) to provide support to industry based within the region. The centre is a unique research and development facility that provides companies direct access to the latest product evaluation technologies and processes along with the expertise to identify solutions appropriate to real world engineering problems.

Transforming the Role of Simulation in New Product Development

This is an EPSRC / Technology Strategy Board project that will address key challenges in the area of deriving and reusing knowledge by improving the correlations between impact simulation and real world performance. It will help engage end users in product design by communicating critical information in highly visual and understandable formats, to facilitate decision making during target setting and performance analysis.

Establishing realistic and relevant design targets, and interpreting knowledge derived from CAE, at the outset of a new product development (NPD) process is critical to product success across a range of HVM sectors. This is particularly important in rapidly developing markets where product legislation is loose or non-existent (e.g. personal protective equipment (PPE)), as opposed to more mature markets where legislation is clearly defined and methodologies are well established. Whilst the automotive industry has lead the way in the uptake and application of CAE simulation tools, other sectors where product performance requirements are more fluid and cost implications of physical testing are less significant have been far slower to embrace the concept of simulation and as a result many UK businesses are missing out on opportunities to accelerate NPD and jump ahead of global competition.

In order to improve simulation accuracy, this project will exploit recent developments in geometrical data processing to convert large, high accuracy 3D data sets (typically from laser or CT scans) into a size and format compatible with the latest impact simulation software. Innovative methods for building this data into transient models to optimise accuracy and robustness of results will then be developed.

Furthermore, new solutions for visualising and interacting with simulation and physical test data will be developed, using state-of-the-art immersive 3D technologies, facilitating the communication and understanding of results beyond the data analysts, to designers, managers and customers alike.

The objectives of the project are fundamental to business growth and competitive advantage for the lead partner, Simpact, whilst NP Aerospace, the end user partner, is keen to exploit the potential of CAE to enable faster, more efficient innovation in the development of PPE products. The project will lead to major advances in the reliability and usability of CAE for impact simulation, creating a significant step change in PPE NPD, with potential to be exploited further across Simpact's HVM customer base.

WMG centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult

WMG is part of the UK government's first Catapult which is focused around the area of High Value Manufacturing. WMG's focus is on Low Carbon Mobility within sectors such as automotive, rail, marine and aerospace. Our Metrology research group provides expertise within the Digital Validation and Verification theme of the WMG centre.