Ausenco is embracing the latest when it comes to visualization technology (e.g. VR/AR) to enhance solutions for clients
What does visualization mean to you?
Visualization can be defined as viewing or picturing an event or object prior to it being physically available to view. Sportspeople use this technique extensively in training where they visualize ‘game time’ scenarios and outcomes. Technology allowed us to move our visualization techniques from ‘the mind’ to ‘the screen’ with video and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR).
Several sectors/industries have relied on visual techniques and simulations for many years – eg. aerospace (pilot) and military training, and of course the gaming industry. In general, our industry lags 3-5 years in new technology uptake. A reluctance to change (“if it ain’t broke - don’t fix it” mentality) and a steep learning curve, amongst other reasons, meant that when pressed to change from 2D to 3D drawings, mutiny broke out in certain engineering quarters!
Why do you believe it is important to our industry? How has it evolved?
My view is that non-engineers sometimes struggle visualizing 2-D outcomes, and a 3-D model brings concepts of design to life. It puts the various players involved in a project on the same page and serves as the basis for a single source of truth information for a project that can be used right through sequenced construction and commissioning. The major advantage of having a “smart” 3D model, apart from just the visual, is the additional information that can be extracted and used. Basically, being able to get something more (background data in this case) from a required deliverable (pretty picture/3-D model). The data that comes along with the picture is often undervalued, to me that is as important as the visual, if not more.
At a high level, the evolution of visualization for me started off with the building of scaled models in the 80’s to drawing boards, to 2-D CAD, to 3-D models and now with a genesis to virtual/augmented reality.
What have been some of the roadblocks or issues in the development of visualization technology within our business?
In our industry, vendors have traditionally been slow to implement and test new technologies and to offer OOTB (out of the box) solutions that are plug-and-play. Typically, software has required a great amount of customization and administrative effort to ensure successful usage and implementation. This is beginning to change, and we have seen a significant shift in approach from certain vendors and for this reason we have selected our current technology partners.
The technology literacy among the industry has also played a part in this and is now being addressed.
Seems like this technology is evolving rapidly, where do you see it heading for the mining and construction industry?
We believe that by partnering with technology partners who believe as we do, that we need to embrace VR/AR and big data, that the solutions we offer our clients, will be enhanced. There is ample opportunity in this space to pioneer improvements and set the path for further leveraging of the information behind the visual. We, at Ausenco are subscribing to this model and are exploring ways we can lead this charge, whether it’s investing in our data asset or virtual/augmented reality – we are already exploring ways that this can functionally enhance our already innovative solutions.