How to eliminate design clashes

The shift to a digital design environment has brought many advantages – increased efficiency, improved visualisation and enhanced quality, just to name a few. By being able to visualise how different design elements interact, clashes that lead to costly delays and wasted materials can be avoided. Yet having all the project data in a digital format is not enough to completely ensure that there are no clashes with the real-world environment or between elements. To achieve this, these multiple data sources need to be integrated and analysed holistically.

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The barriers to clash-free design

With multiple sources of data – such as design models, scheduling information, and site survey data – it is difficult to ensure that all of these puzzle pieces align and complement each other. Identifying and rectifying clashes between site features and the design is not always easy to achieve when working with different files and formats. Data may sit with various teams who use different software which is not always compatible, meaning information is lost or difficult to import into a usable format. Without the ability to access the information as and when required, teams waste time chasing data from other teams.

Additionally, making sure that different parts of the design do not clash during separate phases of the project is challenging at best. On a complex project, trying to understand the construction sequencing and visualising the current progress of each stage and how it interacts with other elements on site is typically not accurate. Until recently, the tools to achieve this with any precision – by combining this data into a usable format – simply have not existed.

Improving clash detection with data

Some of these issues have been addressed with the introduction of a Common Data Environment, or CDE. By bringing different data sources together and combining them, design clashes are easier to spot and address. However, CDEs have their limitations. Whilst they are well suited to identifying technical design clashes between various models and ensuring self-serve access to data, there is no practical way of stress-testing proposals within the site environment. Equally, tools for testing the construction sequencing and visualising progress at every stage are also either limited or non-existent.

Clash detection

Eliminating clashes with enhanced visualisation

A better solution is using Sensat's Common Visualisation Environment, or CVE. The CVE is the evolution of the CDE – it provides a central platform for all the project data together with the ability to combine and view data. It is not just restricted to design information either – many different data sets can be incorporated for advanced analysis. For example, scheduling information can be incorporated so that progress can be visualised at any stage of the project. This way, any potential clashes in the future can be detected early before they are discovered on site.

Being able to view the interaction between the existing environment and the design proposals is another benefit of a CVE. A drone or point cloud survey might yield a decent model of the site itself for comparison during design if it can be imported into a usable format. However, looking beyond the site extents to analyse the impact of the design on the local environment is less easy – often, surveys of these areas are not undertaken. Yet with a CVE, this can be achieved relatively easily so that any potential issues or collisions can be identified and avoided.

Developing accurate designs from data

Bringing all the project information together into a central platform is the first step in weeding out design clashes. However, to completely eliminate clashes with confidence, all the project data – including scheduling and environment information – has to be integrated into a usable format that can be analysed as a whole. With a CVE, all sources of project information can be aggregated and used to create a comprehensive visualisation of the project that is easy to interrogate for issues. This way, clashes are avoided, design quality is improved, and time and cost overruns are reduced.

Developing an accurate design is just one stage of the planning process. With a robust project plan, other sources of error – and therefore risk – can also be minimised.

Our ebook, 3 ways to improve the construction planning phase, covers the other important areas of creating a comprehensive plan and illustrates how a CVE can help with the entire process.


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