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Solving Project Challenges with Laser Scanning on the Job Site

Posted by Brian Entman on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 @ 16:01 PM
Brian Entman
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Most of our readers will agree, virtual design and construction (VDC) is revolutionizing construction practices. Add laser scanning to your toolbox and you have a job site game changer. This post discusss how you can solve project’s challenges by utilizing laser scanning on the job site.

What is laser scanning? Laser scanning is controlled deflection of laser beams in an existing space. It captures almost every visible component of a space - every wall, every door, every window, and every nook and cranny is measured in a space. Whatever you can see, the scanner discovers it, measures it, and transfers the information into a virtual model with precision. The information provides a reliable foundation for modeling and can serve as an as-built model for an active or completed project.

 Century Plaza Towers - Model Movie

Laser scanning on the job site is useful for (and it’s not just for existing conditions)….

  • Gathering reliable data on complex site conditions. Once the data is obtained, it is then converted into a format that can be transferred into 3D models. This process takes a lot less time than it takes to gather information manually.
  • Capturing millions of measurement points in seconds. Laser scanning is helpful for gathering information about the existing structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) features within a scanner’s line of sight. 
  • Effectively delegating project tasks. Collecting information about an existing building structure or site in a point cloud file allows that data to be used to assign project tasks.
  • Developing an in-progress, as-built model of construction. By periodically scanning areas throughout the construction process, the as-built model can be developed as rough-in occurs.
  • Verifying steel and concrete tolerances ahead of walls, floors and finishes. Laser scans can provide a level of accuracy up to 1/8” (sometimes better). By scanning structural steel and concrete in advance, the various installation tolerances can be used to better plan and lay out walls and casework, as well as floating floors.
  • Working within tight timelines. Time efficiencies naturally occur with the eased ability to obtain comprehensive datasets free of human error in seconds.

Rudolph and Sletten used these laser scans to help verify structural steel installation was within acceptable tolerances, which allowed us to layout walls and plan for the Owner’s custom millwork and casework.  In addition, laser scanning was used to verify the levelling of the concrete floors to determine which areas needed to be floated. San Bernardino Justice Center, Laser Scan 

Laser scanning provides the following job site benefits:

  1. Reduced project costs. Incorporating laser scanning into your VDC project program provides an opportunity for the team to reduce project costs and tighten schedules.  The team has greater control over change orders and planning forthcoming activities, allowing for more reliable project decisions and discussions about more accurate data.
  2. Jobsite efficiencies. Empowered with reliable information, construction process efficiencies are realized and there is an added opportunity for prefabrication. Prefabrication will allow for reduced labor costs, fewer schedule delays, and the satisfaction of delivering a project on time and under budget.
  3. Added level of quality control. Continuous scanning during the construction process adds an extra layer of quality control to ensure that building tolerances are met, and systems can be, and are being installed as planned.

It does not take too long to realize that laser-scanning techniques allow the project team to have a clearer understanding the variances between the proposed design and the actual space. The ability to capture so much accurate data about the existing and developing structure and then transfer that information into a working model or, vice versa, into the field, is highly valuable. Optimizing your VDC program with the help of laser scanning gives project teams a solid leg up on productivity.

Are you using laser scanning on your project? Tell us you story? Did you see a signification difference in cost and/or schedule?

Topics: Construction Technology, Laser Scanning