So you already have Navisworks..
If I only got a dollar every time someone asked me why they need Stratus when they already have Navisworks…
Let’s go right for the elephant in the room – Navisworks. It’s a household name in the built community and it’s been around longer than many professional careers. Every designer has had a crack at it.
Navisworks was also designed for a workforce of 25 years ago and has its limits.
Understanding Navisworks’ limits is akin to understanding one of the fundamental issues in the design and construction space: consistently excessive cost overruns due to design related rework. In fact, this issue is so great that >$100 billion in capital are wasted each year in the US alone because of this phenomenon. Knowing that Navisworks gives key people the chance to critique their model on the screen before concrete is poured in the field, you might wonder “if we have the tools, how do we still have this problem?”
There are several answers to this question:
The most important stakeholders are rarely also designers.
Designers are experts at visualizing complex 3D environments, in our case large facilities ranging from cell towers to chemical plants, at life sized proportions from flat screens. These designers, after all, have a career’s worth of experience bending design software to their will as they connect shapes faster than I can connect legos. Much like artists, these tools help them to bring their 3D concepts to life. They most likely don’t need a faster, more intuitive means of visualization their sites at full scale. For them, Navisworks is all they really need. However, designers are not the operators and technicians – the people that eventually occupy those 3D environments after they are constructed.
Operators and technicians rarely have meaningful experience operating 3D design software and visualizing suites like Navisworks. Projecting a digital model into real life proportions from a flat screen is neither familiar or automatic. This leaves a gap in understanding between what they see on the computer screen vs what the eventual constructed facility is to be. If you’ve ever travelled to the Hoover Dam, do you remember how you felt when you saw it in person instead of a photo from google maps? Even though you can click around and see it from different perspectives, google maps doesn’t come close to doing it justice. The same concept applies here.
It’s as easy as looking around
Operators and Technicians have the most valuable spatial perspective to offer the facility’s design. They understand how the site needs to be designed to enable safe, consistent, and often economical support of a facility. These skills were honed through extensive hands-on time in the field building an instinctual understanding around functional layout. These instincts weren’t developed by spending time visualizing their facilities from afar in Navisworks. Not being flat screen, Navisworks experts, the easiest and most intuitive way for Ops to critique design is by walking it down as it takes physical shape in the field. There is no hunting for files, memorizing clicking and navigation schemes, and guessing how they might work inside that model on a flat computer screen. True size and scale are as easy and accessible as stepping outside and looking around. The problem is that by this time, findings requiring change to design are exorbitantly expensive. It is no wonder operational design flaws sneak through stage gated model design reviews and manifest as change orders during construction.
“ True size and scale are as easy and accessible as stepping outside and looking around. The problem is that by this time, changes are exorbitantly expensive.”
What if Operators and Technicians could walk the field and find flaws before construction begins?
Field walk without walking the field…
We’ve proven that Navisworks is a strong tool for designers but lacks a lifelike functional perspective critical to operators and technicians. This is where Stratus closes the gap. Stratus takes the same 3D CAD models as well as laser scans for existing sites and automatically brings them into the Virtual Reality space. The Stratus Virtual Reality experience gives users a full life sized perspective complete with accurate depth perception. In other words, Stratus gives users the perspective they expect and rely upon when walking the field. This, of course, without relying on a mouse and keyboard to look around. In Stratus, users look around just as they do in the real world – by moving their head! It’s that simple and natural. Using our technology, Operators and Technicians can intuitively jump into their site, walk around, practice their critical procedures, and, most importantly, apply their functional design instincts to find flaws. Ultimately, Stratus gives its users the ability to walk the field, existing or not, without ever leaving their desk.
“In Stratus, users look around just as they do in the real world – by moving their head! It’s that simple and natural.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just about finding design flaws. It’s about arming operations with the tools to train, teach, and plan jobs remotely. More on that in the next blog entry!