Dimeo Constantly Looking for New Uses for 360° Photo Capture

Sep 23, 2020 | Article, Construction, HoloBuilder, Progress Tracking

A consistent fixture on the ENR Top 100 Construction Managers list since 1971, Dimeo is a New England based construction and preconstruction service provider. With a portfolio that spans healthcare, corporate, life sciences/ R&D, academic, public, commercial, and residential buildings, they have over 225 professionals in Boston, Providence, and New Haven.

Adopting 360 innovation early

“Get in as early as we can as comfortably as we can,” is how Erik Sanford, Director of VDC/BIM describes Dimeo’s approach to new technology. They consider themselves part of the “early majority” who wait for new innovations to prove themselves, then move quickly to bring them into the workflow.

As part of “The Festival of BIM & Digital Construction” panel 360° Photo Capture Best Practices for Construction Progress Management in a Post-COVID-19 World, Sanford told the virtual audience that the timing was perfect when they discovered HoloBuilder about two and a half years ago. Dimeo had a system in place to capture job photos but knew they could do more. They looked to 360 images, which at that point were widely accepted in the industry. They choose HoloBuilder as the tool to help them make the best use of those photos. The solution offered Dimeo a better balance of price and features when compared to other options available to them.

Screenshot from the virtual panel discussion with Erik Sanford.

Since then, the HoloBuilder platform has found a permanent home in Dimeo’s workflow. It’s been used on 41 projects, including 16 active projects, that cover over 3.9 million square feet. Dimeo has taken over 19,000 360° photos and over 8,000 of them have been viewed. Sanford is happy with those numbers because it tells him the technology and the imagery is “being used” as it is intended. The photos aren’t just being taken and stored, but rather they’re adding value and supporting project outcomes.

Today, Dimeo uses HoloBuilder on all projects, including pursuits.

Striving for further innovation — the HoloBuilder Challenge 2020

Since adopting HoloBuilder and 360° photo technology, Dimeo primarily uses it to capture site progress photos. As a company who prioritizes innovation, they know there are more ways to use the technology to add value. So, in 2020, they launched the HoloBuilder Challenge to encourage and reward teams who used the platform in new, improved, or broader ways. The goal was to raise awareness about how powerful the tool can be by having staff find different ways to put it to use on a job. Project teams were recognized in categories like “most innovative use” or “most photos per square foot” for example.

“All the best ideas have come from folks in the field,” said Sanford who led the initiative. Dimeo field teams are using HoloBuilder for OAC meetings, planning sessions, safety reviews, and confirming installations on site. He believes the teams in the field can find new ways to use the technology to make their jobs easier, more efficient, and do better work. The goal is to share the stories and the things they learn during the challenge to encourage more innovative thinking.

What’s next for 360° photos and HoloBuilder at Dimeo? They are looking forward to finding new ways to use the technology on projects, and are especially excited about the following:

  • Continuously improve and expand their custom templates in the HoloBuilder platform to accommodate common use cases and streamline how they use the platform
  • Provide employees with immersive safety training using 360° and VR technology
  • Use AI to identify safety issues and hazards, support project safety and risk assessments, and improve overall safety planning
  • Because photos contain so much information, Dimeo would like to find ways to leverage more of the data in the photo
  • Explore opportunities to combine 360° images, 3D models, and point clouds to support more efficient and accurate designs
  • Identify more ways HoloBuilder can interact with other platforms the company uses

Side-by-side comparison of a 3D model rendering and a 360° photo of a Dimeo project with SplitScreen in HoloBuilder

Critical tool during COVID-19 restrictions

Dimeo had 360° photo capture in place on their projects before COVID-19 forced restrictions and shutdowns. It proved to be an important tool for them to continue moving things forward and protect the interests of their clients.

Frequent progress tracking essential for 3 temporary hospitals in Rhode Island

The State of Rhode Island chose Dimeo as a rapid response contractor during the COVID-19 pandemic. They received a contract to build three $5 million temporary hospitals, simultaneously, in 2 weeks. Sanford described the project as “hectic” and explained that communication was essential for it to be successful. They worked with HoloBuilder, who donated the coverage for the project, to set the project up and document site progress during the transition of each 12 hour shift. 360° site photos were captured and almost instantly made available in the working design, so everyone had access when needed. Key team members were able to move the job along and meet the expedited timeline without being on site continually.

Monitoring Boston sites for changes, theft, and vandalism during shutdown

The pandemic stopped work on all Dimeo’s projects in Boston. Before the sites were shut down, every room was captured in 360° and uploaded to the project working files using the HoloBuilder platform. This let them identify any changes on site, theft of material, or vandalism while the site was left empty. Sanford told The Festival of BIM & Digital Construction virtual audience that they had no issues with their sites but knew the documentation would have been essential for insurance if they had.

More is better when working remotely

Take more photos. Take them more often. Give more people access to them. That was the message Sanford had for working remotely. With this approach, they were able to continue work during COVID-19, including conducting field reviews, building inspections, and other tasks that would traditionally require site visits. Access to the photos extended to design partners and stakeholders who are also able to be on site virtually.

Seeing a quick return on their investment

Dimeo has been using 360° photos and HoloBuilder for several years and knows the investment quickly pays for itself.

Responding to client concerns provides immediate return on investment

Dimeo recently resolved a client’s concerns using project progress photos. The client believed the reducers were stolen from faucets installed on a project. The Dimeo team looked through progress photos of the faucets in question and confirmed that the reducers were not installed. “We hadn’t set out to take photos of every faucet that was installed,” said Sanford, “but the 360° photos capture everything.”

From the time the client raised their concerns to the time Dimeo was able to identify why the reducers were missing was approximately 15 minutes, which included pulling the project out of archive. Without the 360° photos and HoloBuilder, this could have taken days to resolve. Everything on a site is captured in 360° photos, even the small details. The HoloBuilder JobWalk App instantly tags and stores the photos into the design so retrieving photos for a specific location is simple. “Being able to catch something like the faucets for a client pays for the investment very quickly,” said Sanford.

Minimal investment to get started

Dimeo believes they get a quick return on their investment in 360° technology. Getting a project set up in HoloBuilder takes very little time, and staff were already capturing photos in the field. Converting from standard photos to 360° does not slow their workflow.

  • The cameras they use are low cost and they feel the HoloBuilder platform is reasonably priced
  • Their staff require about 1 hour of training to be able to use the platform at the level they need for their jobs
  • They have few issues or complaints about the platform or process, and any that do arise are usually remedied with some training
  • They’re able to use the HoloBuilder team to support any issues or answer questions

Information has value

Dimeo’s “more is better” approach to photo documentation has added to their projects and processes. “There is great value in having a great deal of information available.” Sanford told the virtual audience. The ability to make progress photos available to a wide variety of people on a project team helps keep everyone on the same page. And those photos have value at all stages of a project — including during the pursuit. 360° cameras are increasingly common during pre-submission site walkthroughs and giving the entire pursuit team virtual access means they have insight those unfamiliar with the site wouldn’t have. “Sometimes you can see things in the scenes that may have been missed during the actual walkthroughs.” Sanford told us. During project execution, the information from 360° photos helps with decision making, troubleshooting, and resolving issues like the client’s concerns over the faucet installations.

Dimeo was quick to recognize the value of 360° technology for their progress documentation. But they quickly realized that the technology has more to offer and are challenging their teams to push the boundaries and do new things. Having HoloBuilder as part of their project workflow is helping them through COVID-19 challenges and was pivotal in their 2-week, field hospital project. Improved communication and making more information available to more people pays for their investment in the technology. Plus, having the ability to quickly resolve client concerns by accessing progress photos adds a level of reassurance for the Dimeo teams.

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