AR in the Wall and Ceiling Trade

by Jose G., Carpenter Foreman at Martin Bros.

AR in the Wall & Ceiling Trade

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My name is Jose and I’m a carpenter foreman with over 30 years of experience in the wall and ceiling industry. I’ve seen a lot of new technologies come and go in that time, so I always approach digital tools with a healthy amount of skepticism. That’s why, at first, I was hesitant to bring Augmented Reality (AR) onto my jobsites, but my team has been using Spectar for over 6 months now and I can honestly say that I see the value it’s brought to my projects. 

AR brings clarity to the gray area between design and construction. When you put the glasses on, you see a full-scale, virtual model of what you’re building, before you’ve built it. It frees up a lot of time that would normally be spent flipping through drawings and interpreting 2D details and lets my guys focus on what’s most important – getting work in place quickly and accurately.

Ease of Use

My biggest concern with implementing AR was the learning curve. My team has to meet tight deadlines and we don’t have enough float in our schedules to waste days experimenting with overly-complicated products. It was a relief to see how intuitive this technology has become. 

My fourth-period apprentices were outfitted with HoloLens glasses and the Spectar app, and they were able to learn how to use them on the fly without reducing productivity. In fact, once they got the hang of it, they were able to complete Journeyman-level tasks more efficiently than most Journeyman could, using conventional methods. 

Optimizing Installation Costs

The labor savings alone made Spectar worth it. We realized almost 40% reductions in the cost to layout backing and soffits. Even better, by having T-bar grids projected into the space at scale, we could begin shooting the wire hangers for ceilings almost immediately, without spending hours with tape measures and laser levels.

My team wasn’t only working faster, they were making fewer mistakes too. The virtual model showed them everything – how many hangers to install and which gauge stud to use. They were getting more done while wasting less material, which can make a big difference in project costs. 

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Better Quality Control

Spectar makes it easier to build projects right the first time. Prior to this, design mistakes could go unnoticed for months, sometimes until long after the walls and ceilings had been closed up. The virtual model enabled my team to identify issues much sooner and communicate them to the BIM team so they could be corrected in real-time. 

For example, just the other day, an apprentice noticed that a light fixture type had changed on a BIM model but its backing hadn’t been updated. Being able to see the whole picture allowed us to notify the design team and install the correct gauge backing at the revised elevation, saving us all from major headaches down the road.

Key Takeaways

Spectar helps my team work more efficiently and deliver faster – a win-win. I could easily see other trades having similar results, especially the MEP subcontractors that we coordinate with. As long as there is good, open communication between the field and the BIM designers, I think all project participants could benefit from AR technology.