CloudJanuary 15, 2024

Virtual Makers: Pioneers in a Virtualizing Construction Industry

Virtual makers are at the forefront of the rapid digitalization of construction. Find out who they are, what they do and which tools they are using to implement this transformation.
Avatar Clara ROUHANI

The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is facing high demands for speed, sustainability and customization, but traditional methods such as mass production, prefabrication and standardization have a limited market appeal and don’t solve industry-specific issues. In today’s hyper-personalized experience economy, the construction industry must rethink its approach.

The productization approach

Contrary to traditional methods, the productization approach is based on producing custom “building blocks” out of standardized components. These building blocks, or integration-ready construction modules, can be designed, manufactured and installed independently of a project cycle. This approach increases scalability and cost efficiency; being highly customizable, custom modules allow for unique building designs all while accelerating construction and lowering costs.

Going even further, the virtual construction brick, a package combining the integration-ready module and all the data needed to design and build it, is revolutionizing construction.

High buildings and cranes from below, bright blue sky - Dassault Systèmes
Productization is helping AEC players tackle new challenges in construction

In order to develop integration-ready modules and virtual construction bricks, the productization approach leverages generative design tools and the virtual construction twin to virtually create, model and test parts and subassemblies. The virtual twin is a digitally accurate representation of a development’s physical processes and components on which all stakeholders can work in real time. It combines all aspects of the design, engineering, product manufacturing and construction process.

As productization becomes more widespread, construction teams will have to transform their processes, collaborate more closely through virtual twins and become virtual makers.

An opportunity for construction players to diversify their offer

Virtual makers collaborate with designers, general contractors and even directly with owners to digitalize critical trade-based knowhow independently of projects. This means assemblies can be reused and customized on different projects, which enables virtual makers to create tailor-made products and expand their offer.

In addition to virtualizing their intellectual property, virtual makers can expand their skillset and collaborate earlier and more strategically in the design process. This improves product quality, reduces error risks and saves costs, ultimately contributing to a better project outcome. Collaborating at the design stage is a true opportunity for virtual makers to maximize their value and generate greater revenue within a virtualizing industry.

The virtual maker role will be a new function for construction stakeholders like specialty contractors in the coming years. Not only will virtual makers be creating a new business model, they will also embrace new roles and sources of revenue.

Productization in facade design

Glass and steel facade with blue circle - Dassault Systèmes
Facade makers can collaborate earlier and more strategically in the design process

Facade makers traditionally intervene at a late stage in construction projects, once most of the decisions have already been made. But by becoming virtual facade makers, they have the opportunity to get involved in the end-to-end process early on and become upstream partners.

By virtualizing their trade, they can create unique, configurable, integration-ready facade panels and systems that can be repurposed on other projects. Instead of creating facades from scratch or project-specific installations that cannot be reused, they can easily modify the size, shape, and materials of pre-existing facade elements to fit any future project.

Leveraging virtual construction bricks and integration-ready modules is enabling facade makers to accelerate design and manufacturing, increase their work efficiency, fulfill their sustainability objectives and use their intellectual property to scale up their business.

How the 3DEXPERIENCE platform makes productization possible for virtual makers

To make this new business model a reality, virtual makers can count on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud to upgrade their tools with a solution that doesn’t put a dent in their budget or require sophisticated IT infrastructure. Small and medium-sized businesses have the opportunity to play on the same field as industry leaders: the cloud offer adapts to companies’ needs and evolves as their business grows.

With the virtual twin, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud offers flexibility and ease of use for everyone involved in the project. Collaboration is made easy: both internal and external stakeholders have secure access to a single source of truth anywhere, at any time. This saves time, prevents mistakes and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Timelines are cut in half and companies can meet the demands of an increasingly complex market, all while meeting sustainability requirements and expanding their business.

To learn more about how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud enables construction players to take their business to the next level, get our new e-book, The Scalability Playbook for Manufacturers In Construction.

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