3D SCANNING FOR MEP

Accurate measurements—even in crawl spaces & above ceiling tiles.


One of the biggest challenges in an existing building renovation is accurate documentation of the building MEP systems. 3D scanning can be a vital part of this process.

If you even have blueprints, it’s likely that you’ll find that the existing systems were not built as originally designed. And it’s not easy getting accurate measurements in crawl spaces or above ceiling tiles.

PrecisionPoint helps MEP engineers overcome these challenges with our Scan-to-BIM Services. One advantage of 3D laser scanners is that they can fit into small spaces where people can’t go. 3D laser scanning quickly and accurately captures infrastructure located in hard to reach plenum spaces, including visible structural, MEP, and HVAC system elements. Today’s advanced point cloud post processing software then allows PPI to “connect the dots” between what the scanner could see and what was hidden to create a complete and accurate engineering MEP as-built point cloud model. In comparatively more open spaces like mechanical rooms, 3D laser scanning is similarly the fastest, most precise method of collecting as-built pipe and equipment information as point clouds that are accurate within 2mm to 5mm.

PrecisionPoint then uses automated feature extraction software tools to 3D model elements like pipes and ducts and convert them to BIM object families. When converted to a BIM, the point cloud model allows engineers to quickly access and analyze as-built conditions prior to commencing the design process. If a retrofit has already been designed, PrecisionPoint can use the new as-built BIM to conduct 3D clash analyses so problems can be resolved before construction begins, saving both time and money.

MEP Client Snapshot

Client: Elkhart General Hospital

Project: Scan the 200,000-square foot interior of the west wing of the hospital, as well as existing mechanical rooms. The goal was to validate the architectural model and generate a 3D MEP model so the two could be merged with the structural model to a create a comprehensive 3D BIM upon which their new expansion would be designed.

Problem: The west wing of the hospital had been renovated a decade earlier. However, confidence was lacking in the accuracy of existing the 2D documentation used to build the new BIM that was required for the next renovation—adding five more stories on top of the west wing.

Solution: First, PrecisionPoint (PPI) set up a survey control network that would become the starting point for the scanning and ensure that all of the areas captured by the scanner were accurately geo-referenced to the existing architectural model. When tackling a project of this size and complexity where the number of scan positions are in the thousands, a well-established survey control network is vital for accurately and efficiently registering the scans together.

MEP-tile-trio-750wWhen it came to capturing MEP, HVAC, and structural systems, PrecisionPoint came up with an innovative solution. Because a hospital never sleeps, there isn’t time to take a patient room out of service for a long period. At Elkhart General, however, PPI neutralized the ceiling tile problem by developing a homegrown solution using a FARO Focus3D high-definition scanner, a rolling tripod, and a Kindle Fire tablet.

In the end, the PrecisionPoint team significantly reduced the time needed to extract the MEP geometries from the scan point clouds and model the pipes. Rather than perform the extraction and modeling work directly in Autodesk Revit, the PrecisionPoint technicians used the ClearEdge3D EdgeWise MEP for Revit software as the in-between solution that enabled the pipe geometry to be automatically modeled and then inserted into Revit as pipe families, shortening the 3D BIM project from eight months to just eight weeks. With a field-accurate as-built BIM generated from 3D laser scanning, the Elkhart architecture and design team had the confidence of knowing they would reduce the number of potential change orders that can result from an inaccurate BIM, reducing the risk of construction cost overruns.

Learn More About PrecisionPoint’s Reality Capture Solutions

3D Scanning Services

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3D Scan-to-BIM Services

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UAS Mapping Services

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