The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)'s Department of Building and Real Estate (BRE) has made great strides in tailoring construction virtual technology to facilitate scenario planning for mammoth projects, thus enabling property developers and project managers to achieve better cost-saving and avoid unnecessary delays.
In developing this technology, Prof. Li Heng and his 12-strong team have not only published many research papers in international journals, but also turned theory into practice through working closely with industrial partners. They are now able to turn two dimensional technical drawings into vivid 3D images of skyscrapers and other complex building structures with details of nuts and bolts. More importantly, they can mimic every step of the actual construction process through visualizing the workflow as well as the logistics arrangement.
"Construction planning is a complicated process that involves optimal use of resources in a changing site environment. Owing to the limited functions of traditional planning tool, there is strong need for new technology which can visualize the construction process and enable contractors to try different methods, so that they can produce a feasible plan with optimal use of resources and within the shortest time," said Prof. Li.
This advanced virtual technology, which is now being adopted by major construction contractors such as Gammon Construction Ltd and China Overseas Holdings Ltd, has been put to good use in the planning process of many complex construction projects during the past two years. These include the Island East Commercial Building in Quarry Bay, Tseung Kwan O Sports Stadium (the venue for East Asian Games), Tuen Mun Police Quarters and the Venetian Hotel in Macau, to name but a few.
To support the further advancement of this technology, PolyU has recently established a Construction Virtual Prototyping (CVP) Laboratory. This initiative is also backed by strong industrial support, as China Overseas Holdings Ltd and Gammon Construction Ltd have each donated HK$1 million for the establishment of this Laboratory.
Earlier this year, the Central Government's Ministry of Construction has given research funding amounting to RMB500,000 to support PolyU's CVP Laboratory. This was also the first time that a local tertiary institution received funding from the Ministry.
The use of this new technology is spreading across the border. Two major mainland developers, namely the Vanke Group and China State Construction International Holdings Ltd, have also employed this technology in their projects.
The CVP Laboratory is now offering for industry personnel two types of professional services: (1) rapid prototyping of projects at the tender stage for contractors to vividly and dynamically present the feasibility of construction methods; (2) visual prototyping of project at the construction stage to develop a detailed and improved construction programme with minimum time and optimal use of resources.
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