3D Visualisation Beyond Coordination

3D Visualisation Beyond Coordination

19 Dec 2023

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This informal CPD article ‘3D Visualisation Beyond Coordination’, was provided by Pentagon Solutions, a leading technology and consultancy partner in the UK & Ireland for companies who strive to gain efficiencies in their business by digitalisation of their assets and processes.


Whether you are operating in the construction, manufacturing, or fabrication industry, 3D visualisation has played a major role in engineering for several years. 3D visualisation has allowed organisations and their members to:

  • Enhance Design and Innovation - Detailed visualisation concepts can be created, resulting in more innovative and aesthetically pleasing designs.
  • Improved Communication - Facilitating clearer communication among team members, stakeholders, and clients by providing a visual representation that is easier to understand than traditional 2D drawings.
  • Informed Decision-Making - Aiding in visualising and analysing proposed changes, enabling informed decision-making for the development of any engineering project.

These benefits focus on the design optimisation phases of a project, allowing for improved visualisation centred around coordination. Coordination issues in all engineering disciplines are one of the main factors for delays, over-budgeting, and issues on-site. When thinking of 3D visualisation; coordination will always be the first major issue that engineers think of. However, 3D visualisation is not only limited to coordination and engineering, but also serves as a useful tool for exploring various aspects of an organisation, such as accounts, sales, marketing, and delivery teams.

Installation & Scheduling Sequencing

The utilisation of 3D visualisation involves a comprehensive and strategic process. Once a 3D model has been created in its specialised software it can then be integrated with project-specific data relating to the installation of the component or the system. This integration includes scheduling data, construction timelines, and logistical information to ensure an accurate representation of the project's scope, timeline, and dependencies are captured within the model.

This data about scheduling and construction timeline enables the project teams to plan logistics in an optimised sequence through 3D visualisation. It allows for strategic planning and visualisation of installation, transportation routes, storage areas, and staging points within the model. This comprehensive and detailed approach to 3D visualisation goes beyond mere coordination, making it an essential tool for efficient project management.

Manufacturing for Machine Programming

Developing a visually accurate 3D model offers numerous design benefits. When equipped with the appropriate software, these 3D models can be created using tools identical to those utilised on the shop floor, incorporating Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) processes. CAM ensures seamless integration between the 3D model and machine equipment, including:

  • Laser Cutting Machines
  • Press Machines
  • Plastic Moulding Equipment

In the realm of machine programming, 3D visualisation takes a significant stride by illustrating the tool paths machines will traverse during manufacturing. This visual representation empowers engineers to optimise tool movements for efficiency and precision, all while considering material wastage.

Integrating such software into organisational workflows proves highly beneficial, leveraging automation processes to directly translate the 3D model into its physical representation. Furthermore, 3D visualisation aids innovative prototyping by depicting layer-by-layer additive processes, optimising designs for additive manufacturing technologies like 3D printing. This capability allows for scalable design models to be perfected before transitioning to live manufacturing.

Concept of Building Information Modelling

Simulation and Analysis

Creating accurate 3D models has several benefits, particularly when used for simulation and analysis. When constructing a model that adheres to real-world standards, it becomes easier to apply specific element properties, with materials playing a crucial role in this context. Such simulations provide an efficient way to evaluate different project risks and make necessary adjustments during the design phase.

In-depth structural and stress analysis are supported by 3D visualisation, empowering engineers to simulate the behaviour of components under diverse loads and conditions. This enables the early identification of weak points or potential failures before physical prototypes are developed. In projects involving fluid dynamics, 3D visualisation becomes instrumental in conducting simulations. This capability aids engineers in comprehending how liquids or gases will traverse through a system, allowing for the optimisation of designs to enhance efficiency and mitigate potential issues.

3D visualisation also facilitates thermal analysis by replicating heat distribution within a system. This proves crucial in projects where precise temperature control is imperative, such as in electronics design or energy systems.

It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of a project to determine the appropriate simulations and analyses required for an effective design. This broader perspective helps ensure that the simulations conducted are in line with the project's needs, contributing to a more informed and successful design process.

BIM & Project Life Cycle Management

The concept of Building Information Modelling (BIM) relies on the integration of 3D visualisation models. Once a 3D model is created, it's important to incorporate all relevant information into it. This integration ensures that important details about components or assemblies are easily accessible, making it easier to manage the project during the handover and facility management phases. Adding time (4D – BIM Dimension) and cost (5D – BIM Dimension) to a BIM enhances the 3D model with advanced planning and financial perspectives. This makes it easier to manage the project life cycle and visualise the project's progression, allowing stakeholders to manage costs more efficiently.

The usefulness of 3D models for BIM extends to the operational phase of a building's life cycle. These models become essential tools for Facility Management, providing support for maintenance, space utilisation, and comprehensive analysis of overall building performance.

3D visualisation in BIM goes beyond representation by incorporating diverse data such as materials, costs, schedules, and performance metrics. This data interoperability establishes a seamless communication channel between different stakeholders and systems throughout the entirety of the project life cycle. The advancements in BIM protocols alongside emerging technologies have allowed the concept of Digital Twins to be a central focus of the industry.


3D visualisation is a valuable tool in the engineering industry, providing numerous benefits across various disciplines beyond traditional design coordination. Integrating 3D visualisation into project workflows not only addresses coordination issues but also enables efficient project management. This allows for meticulous planning, improved information exchange, and streamlined shop floor processing.

Although there have been significant advances in software and tools in the engineering industry, it's essential to consider other available options and how they can be integrated into your current workflows or what tools you currently have available but currently aren’t optimising to their fullest potential.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Pentagon Solutions, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.  

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Pentagon Solutions

Pentagon Solutions

For more information from Pentagon Solutions, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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