Virtual reality (VR) is changing the game when it comes to designing facilities for the food and beverage industry. With a VR headset, you can “walk through” your new building during the design phase, months before the first brick is laid.
Rather than examining a 2D design on a sheet of paper, 3D modeling coupled with virtual reality technology can bring a building to life without having to interpret complicated designs.
Planning for Equipment and Processing
A unique benefit of virtual reality in food plant design is the ability to efficiently plan the layout of your equipment and better understand your future processing. By inserting equipment into the virtual design by using specs from the equipment vendor, you can visualize sequencing and experiment with the placement of machines within a space.
The Stages of VR Design Review
Generally, I like to bring clients in for two stages of review during the design process:
- Conceptual design — This first review takes place at about 30 percent of the way through the design process. After we assemble the design for the “sticks and bricks” of the building (e.g., walls, columns, stairs), I like to bring the owner in to see the progress of the early model. This is the first iteration we’ve created based on their initial input. Based on the owner’s feedback at the conceptual stage, we can make adjustments going forward.
- Detail design — This review stage allows owners to see the tweaks we made based on their feedback from conceptual design as well as other progress. Although the components of certain disciplines (such as structural and architectural) may be more fleshed out at this point than others (like electrical), this design includes most of the details in place for an owner to review and approve before finalizing the design or before permitting begins, if it’s a design-build project.
At Stellar, virtual reality technology is a critical tool used by our design team. Whether it’s for design-only work or design-build projects, VR is helping owners better visualize their facilities and helping us design better, smarter food plants.
Stellar is a fully integrated firm focused on planning, design, pre-construction, construction, refrigeration, mechanical & utility, building envelope, and total operations & maintenance services worldwide. Visit the company's blog at www.stellarfoodforthought.net or learn about its projects at stellar.net.