Laser Scanning Helps a Building Company

04Jun14

The promise of field-accurate site conditions inside a 3D building information model is becoming a reality on construction sites and in early design discussions, thanks to better software import capabilities and newer, less-expensive field scanning technologies.

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We previously discussed prefabrication and how small firms can play a key role in coordinating design and construction activities, and laser scanning is a tool that can enable a high level of coordination. Import of a 3D point-cloud into BIM software has become easier to accomplish and more manageable for architects and construction professionals in the field as laser-scanning equipment is both more accurate and cheaper than ever before.

A “scan” is a powerful laser recording of field data that captures a site’s shapes and possibly its appearance and converts those conditions into a cloud of data points, which can be uploaded into a 3D BIM. Providence, R.I.-based Gilbane Building Company uses a FARO Focus 3D laser scanner. Counting software and operations training, the bill came in around $60,000, a far cry from the six-figure cost of older scanners, but still a major investment. The cost for a small firm sounds steep up front, but it can pay for itself quickly.

“We’ve found that laser scanning has a huge barrier to entry in cost, but if you own it, you find use cases for it you otherwise wouldn’t have considered,” says John Tocci, Jr., director of virtual design and construction at Gilbane. “On one project, 30 minutes of scan time in the field and 30 minutes of post-processing and uploading the point-cloud into a Revit model saved $30,000.”

Read the full article here

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