Laser scanning is disrupting the construction industry with its powerful capabilities. It is causing a paradigm shift in the way complex projects are designed, constructed & operated.
The benefits that laser scanning offers are –
- Reduced installation time and costs
- Enhanced quality and accuracy
- Streamlined coordination
- Improved site safety
What is Laser Scanning?
Laser scanning is a method of collecting data at a construction site. A laser scan analyses objects on the basis of their shape and appearance. This data is then used to develop a digital 3D model of the site.
Think of it as a camera taking a 360-degree photo, the only difference being that a laser scan assigns coordinates that contains the position for each pixel.
The result of a laser scan is a highly accurate digital representation of points, which depict the position of objects in a site, in a 3D coordinate system.
Benefits of Laser Scanning in construction
In broad terms, laser scanning is used in three stage of a project’s lifecycle –
1. The design stage
Several BIM professionals are now adopting the Scan-to-BIM approach for retrofit and renovation projects. In such projects, laser scan helps in the creation of highly accurate as-built models that contain the existing condition and dimensions of the buildings. Architects and engineers can now use these as-built models as the basis for renovation.
2. The construction stage
In the construction stage, laser scanning offers the following benefits –
A. Construction management
Laser scanning has changed face construction management. This is because its implementation significantly reduces overall project cost and time taken to completion. Moreover, the overall safety at the project site is also greatly enhanced.
The image below illustrates why laser scanning is a powerful tool for construction management.
It shows how a steel frame is virtually erected. At the fabrication yard, the steel frame is first scanned to get a point cloud model. The model is then placed on its intended design location virtually to determine if the actual frame can be perfectly placed on its actual on-site location.
After the virtual erection, the steel frame is physically lifted and placed at its intended position in just a single attempt. This eliminates the need for multiple attempts, enhances safety, and reduces time and cost.
B. Progress monitoring
Laser scanning makes it easy to create a construction progress model. In this model, a point cloud of the progress is prepared. The quantities of the materials in it can now be determined from the scan.
C. Quantity Survey & Bill Verification
The quantity of material in a stockpile can be easily surveyed with the help of laser scanning. The quantity survey can then be used to validate contractor invoices.
Using laser scan, progress of the site can be measured and the actual quantity of material used in the site can be calculated and compared against the contractor’s invoices.
Typically, concrete, blockwork, earthware etc. can be quantified with laser scan.
D. Quality Management
The quality of structures like columns and beams can be determined with laser scanning. For example, we can accurately determine the dimensions of structures such as thickness, the orientation and much more to ensure that everything is built according to the intended proportions.
The degree of detail that is captured during laser scanning is very high. Hence, the data can be used to develop an as-built database. This database can help later on with building operations.
To sum it up:
Laser scanning outperforms traditional methods in the following aspects –
- It identifies errors on every point of the member with ±2mm accuracy
- 70-75% less time is required to capture and process the scan results
- It provides evidence of the inspection by creating error heat map on point cloud model
Owing to the immense value this technology adds to a project, it is time to embrace laser scanning and make the most of its benefits.
Let us know how you think Laser Scanning will impact the construction industry in the comments section below. We would also love to hear your thoughts on the article.