A View of the Future

Goggles Give 3D Peek at Construction

Thanks to Virtual Reality (VR) technology, managers and staff are “test driving” their new departments long before they are physically constructed in the three-story wing of NorthBay Medical Center.

Last week it was Engineering’s turn for a final look at equipment on the roof of the new addition.

“This is an example of how we are running department teams through virtual tours of their new space and getting input while it is still easy to make changes,” explained Eric VanPelt, project development manager.

Wearing HTC Vive VR Goggles and holding hand controls, engineering staff could “step” onto the roof and maneuver around to examine a maze of pipes, vents and utilities.

For Engineering, ensuring easy access to the systems they maintain was an important goal of the VR tour. During a previous look they found potential conflicts and made suggestions, and now they were reviewing the results. The wrong placement of a single valve could have a big impact on how they do their jobs.

Henry Trudel, hospital facilities manager, was first to don the goggles.

“Yeah this all looks good,” he said, pointing out where they previously had an issue with access.

Others in the room could follow Henry’s view on a large screen monitor.

DPR Construction has been on the forefront of using VR on their projects.

“We’re taking all of the systems that go into the project and coordinating them on the computer,” said Jonathan Savosnick, building information modeling (BIM) project leader for DPR Construction.

For NorthBay’s addition, each trade (electrical, plumbing, etc.) created a model detailing their piece of the construction project. The models were then loaded into a computer, layered together and a ‘clash report’ was generated — detailing where collisions of materials were located. This allowed each trade to make adjustments until all the puzzle pieces fit together before construction begins.

In addition to Engineering, VR tours have been taken by Surgery, Imaging, Nursing and Nutrition Services.

A mock patient room was set up for Nursing to give staff a feel for the new environment in addition to the goggle tour.