Finding the Right 3D Partner
CRB is a sustainable engineering, architecture, construction, and consulting firm serving clients in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries by supporting well-designed and constructed facilities. Properly managing the unique concerns related to these facilities—such as housing specialized equipment or sensitive chemicals—helps speed drug development to get vital treatments quickly and cost-effectively to the public. The challenge for CRB and its clients is that creating plans that address all these issues is painstaking work, even in the best circumstances—not to mention during a global pandemic.
COVID-19 has had direct, immediate effects on CRB’s approach to business. Not only in the limitations on doing crucial site tours and assessments but also in the kinds of projects its clients take on. Though CRB used 360-degree photography to capture and communicate accurate site conditions pre-COVID when lockdowns occurred it needed a more immersive way to take clients and stakeholders on virtual tours of facilities. The solution needed to do more than meet the current moment, it ideally would provide a foundation to make project processes even faster and more effective in the future.
“People visualize much better in 3D compared to viewing static floor plans and elevations,” explains Chris Link, regional Virtual Design and Construction Manager, CRB. “In looking for a 3D platform, we prioritized accuracy, ease of use, remote functionality, and flexibility. After assessing the options, it was clear that Matterport offered a perfect mix of capabilities and price. Matterport is an ideal partner for technically complex and time-sensitive projects.”
Working at Warp Speed Without Sacrificing Accuracy
One of CRB’s most recent urgent projects was part of Operation Warp Speed, the US government public-private partnership to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. As part of that initiative, a leading pharmaceutical company relied on CRB to adapt an existing facility to manufacture and store a freeze-dried version of the vaccine. However, the facility had undergone several changes since it was originally constructed—and CRB didn’t have a current model of existing conditions or a way of getting its engineering team on-site.
“Warp speed wasn’t a suggestion, it was our mandate for getting the job done,” says Link. “We took on modification and construction projects that helped our client start producing vaccines with unprecedented speed. Using Matterport to capture accurate, actionable models and rapidly share those models with design teams working remotely around the world is a no-brainer. With Matterport, we can save our clients weeks of time and tens of thousands of dollars.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CRB would typically send six to 10 engineers for a site assessment that could take several days. Matterport allows just one person to capture the site in roughly a day. This streamlined process of capturing and sharing scans expedites the design process by as much as three weeks while cutting associated travel costs by one-third.
Having accurate, actionable models proved essential for a key part of the adaptation of the facility, which involved modifying a piece of filling line equipment. CRB used Matterport scans to give the manufacturer a comprehensive view into the space without requiring a physical tour.
“The Matterport Pro2 camera provides phenomenal high-resolution digital twins,” says Link. “Once those scans are in the MatterPak, we can download the point cloud information into programs like Revit. We don’t need to model all the geometry in a particular corridor to know if a certain piece of equipment will fit, since we can use the point cloud data to validate dimensions.”
Immersive Virtual Tours Lead to New Customer Services
Adapting to pandemic-safe business approaches, like increased remote work and curtailing site travel, hasn’t stopped CRB from offering its full range of services—in fact, it’s even expanded its offerings. After a CRB project manager discovered that a pharmaceutical client was using iPhones and iPads to produce Matterport captures of a 13,000 square foot cleanroom production facility for penicillin, CRB offered to do a faster, more complete capture using the Pro2.
CRB performed and processed the capture within around six hours. Sharing the digital twins now allows the client’s operations team to virtually tour the space without potentially contaminating clean rooms or triggering allergies. Since this particular CRB client had already adopted Matterport, CRB easily transferred the digital twins from its own Matterport hub to the client’s hub. That seemingly small gesture has big ramifications for CRB moving forward.
“We can take high-quality Matterport captures and hand them over to clients who want to use them for ongoing facilities asset management. That’s going to be a huge advantage for us when it comes to serving clients,” says Link.
Going Beyond 360-Degree Captures to Create More Useable Models
Though CRB primarily uses Matterport to capture existing conditions for modification projects or more significant renovations, the extensive spatial data also helps the firm respond to a broader range of client needs. Recently, a biotech client asked CRB to document a fermentation suite—down to the valves, piping, and tube diameters—and duplicate it, exactly, at another site.
CRB used Matterport to do a COVID-safe capture of the entire facility in one day. The next day, it added Mattertags to note valve types and proximity to other equipment, which gives engineering teams detailed information to efficiently duplicate them at a separate site.
Matterport goes beyond just letting us create a 360-degree representation of a space. Instead, we can build an immersive virtual tour, complete with the tags and labels on each valve and tank. Integrating clear, precise 3D images with highly accurate data establishes a new standard in our industry,” says Link. “Matterport allows us to communicate more effectively with our clients, stakeholders, and internal teams to develop solutions to address even the most complicated design challenges.”
CRB also uses Matterport for building information modeling (BIM), a process for creating and managing information on a construction or design project across the project lifecycle. It brings all information about every component into one 3D model that architects, engineers, and designers can use for conceptual design, visualization, analysis, and construction.
Most building information models are created using Autodesk Revit, which involves a laborious process of converting 2D sketches, photographs, or point clouds into parametric 3D models. But the Matterport BIM Files service transforms digital twins directly into a BIM file, allowing customers to shift their initial focus from the manual task of converting point clouds to higher ROI activities such as design ideation.
“We asked Matterport for a BIM File of an extremely complicated mechanical room with multiple levels, cables, pipes, ducts, and large HVAC units, and we were extremely impressed with what we got back,” Link says. “It included all the vertical and horizontal surfaces, and all the pipe and ductwork, exactly as Matterport had already captured them. The Matterport BIM File service saved us an incredible amount of time.”
As CRB takes on more complex, structurally sensitive projects—while saving time and costs for clients—it is looking to further roll-out Matterport. “With Matterport, we have the right tool to safely and efficiently maintain and even improve our processes during the pandemic,” says Link. “Matterport is now an increasingly valuable solution for us as we plan for the future.”
CRB is a privately held sustainable engineering, architecture, construction, and consulting company that has primarily served the biotech and pharmaceutical industries for over 35 years.
Kansas City, Missouri
Use 3D technology to efficiently and remotely advance biotech and pharmaceutical facilities projects during the COVID-19 pandemic
Matterport Pro2, Matterport BIM File
Matterport provides high-resolution 3D scans and data-sharing tools to develop detailed, actionable digital twins of pharmaceutical sites
- Virtual capabilities ensured projects continued safely and on time through pandemic
- Reduced travel-related costs by one-third
- Expedited project planning processes by as much as three weeks
- Created new client service for ongoing asset management