Precision Point 3D Laser Scanning


The process of reality capture creates a very precise digital representation of a real world project environment. The most prevalent form of reality capture is achieved through 3D laser scanning. A 3D laser scanning device records digital images of a project space by rapidly capturing real world conditions and reproducing them into a very precise 3D digital data set. Whether captured by a laser scanning device or image capture (photogrammetry), the result of reality capture is known as a “point cloud model” or PCM.

Though laser scanning has been around for many years, it has only recently become easy enough for mainstream use in the AECO (architecture, engineering, construction, operations) industry. One reason reality capture has become more accessible is because most major CAD and BIM software applications now readily accept 3D scan data, making the information extremely useful within existing design, documentation, and construction workflows.

In short, reality capture enables AECO project stakeholders to quickly and accurately bring real world, as-built data into the 3D digital realm. Once digital, stakeholders can use the data for design and construction assessment, and then send that information back out into the real world for fabrication and installation.

3D scanning devices record digital images by emitting a low-power laser beam from a rotating mirror aimed towards areas that need to be captured. This beam is reflected back to the scanner by objects within its line-of-site, measuring these points up to a million times per second. The resulting image is referred to as a point cloud.
Once an area is captured, the technician moves to the next position with the desired line-of-site for additional data collection. This process is repeated until all project-pertinent areas of a building are scanned. PrecisionPoint’s seasoned technicians use survey total stations to validate scanner positions for each area that needs to be captured. These survey dimensional control methodologies offer a higher standard of precision, ensuring the resulting point clouds are accurate within 2mm to 5mm.

Once all the scans are collected in the field, PrecisionPoint uses state-of-the-art pre-processing software where noise is eliminated, and all the individual scans are registered and connected together to form a unified point cloud model. Finally, one of our on-staff registered land surveyors will geo-reference the PCM to site coordinates or a State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS) to certify it for dimensional accuracy.

In the recent past, engineers would walk around facilities with tape measures and drawings while taking pictures. They would then have to manually piece together an extraordinary amount of data to create an as-built model. This approach was time consuming, expensive, often inaccurate, and prone to errors. In one case, PPI was brought in because the manual methods proposed for data collection could only guarantee an accuracy of +/- four feet, whereas 3D scanning is generally accurate within five millimeters.
Today, PrecisionPoint’s 3D Scan-to-BIM solutions capture vital as-built facility and systems data that can be imported into software applications that automatically translate 3D point clouds into BIM software object families. By making the up-front investment in reality capture before a renovation project, our clients get the advantage of designing around actual building conditions instead of old drawings that no longer represent the real world facility. PrecisionPoint clients find that the overall cost of PPI’s scanning and BIM services is usually far less than the cost associated with a single, major field change resulting from poor and inaccurate as-built data.
PrecisionPoint is also brought in to scan projects during construction at pre-determined intervals to capture as-built information before it gets hidden behind walls and ceiling tiles. The resulting BIM provides clients with ancillary benefits for years to come, especially when the data is integrated into computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and other facility management software applications.

With PrecisionPoint 3D Scan-to-BIM Services, AECO Professionals Can More Effectively:

  • Modify: Swap out items in the scanned virtual environment to determine how assets will fit before construction to avoid field changes and cost overruns.
  • Validate: Compare accurate as-built conditions of a construction project with the as-designed model to increase quality control.
  • Document: Take scans of structural and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) systems before wall finishes are installed in order to enable easy identification and locations of elements hidden inside walls. The 3D image of what’s inside the wall can be easily measured for precise location to support ongoing maintenance and renovation.
  • Collaborate: Share scan images and interact with dimensionally accurate virtual environments online using standard web browsers on a computer or tablet. Scan data can be securely hosted on a dedicated server or in the cloud, eliminating the need to install special viewing software.
  • Construct: Easily create intelligent data from point clouds to support clash detection during documentation coordination. This precision approach to construction saves time and reduces costs by ensuring assets will fit in their designated spaces before reaching the construction site.

PrecisionPoint Clients Most Often Report the Following ROI Benefits:

  • Reducing costs by improving accuracy and minimizing waste and rework.
  • Shortening project schedules by decreasing site disruptions.
  • Improving efficiency by maintaining existing workflows using compatible mainstream CAD and BIM modeling and design solutions like AutoCAD, MicroStation, and Revit.
  • Maximizing information investments by leveraging measurable data that can be used and reused throughout the facility lifecycle.

PrecisionPoint services are ideal for projects like:

  • Renovating and maintaining existing buildings and structures (both exterior and interior).
  • Establishing accurate as-built BIMs and documentation for facility elements like:
    • Structural and architectural components
    • HVAC/Mechanical assets
    • Plumbing
    • Electrical equipment and conduit
    • Material handling systems
    • Baggage handling systems
    • Manufacturing assembly line assets
    • Process equipment and piping
    • Underground utilities and infrastructure
  • Creating accurate and finely detailed facility plans.
  • Generating permanent digital records for historical preservation sites.
  • Creating complete and accurate high definition visualizations of pre-design site conditions.
  • Conducting forensic evaluations.