Laser scanning equipment gives organizations in the construction industry the ability to collect information from surfaces and structures at the speed of light (literally). Laser scanning systems emit tens of thousands of laser beams per second, each beam collecting an XYZ coordinate fora specific point on a surface. A complete laser scan of a construction site will result in a dataset consisting of millions of 3D coordinates. This dataset is known as a “point cloud.”
Point clouds can be brought to life using point cloud processing software. The coordinates are stitched together, forming a complete digital representation, or a “digital twin”, of the surveyed site.
With 3D digital models of construction sites, organizations can save time and money in the field. The dimensions, layout, and condition of structures and plots can be analyzed from the safety of a workstation. Laser scanning has a large range of benefits and uses in the construction industry.
Surveying Development Plots and Structures for Renovation
Laser scanning equipment, also known as LiDAR systems, are predominantly used for carrying out surveys. Construction and development companies use this technology to gather information from land for potential development, as well as from existing structures in need of renovation.
Information gathered during LiDAR surveys can be used to assess the suitability of land for development. The terrain is mapped and evaluated, the density of vegetation measured, and the layout of topographic features and existing structures analyzed. Bare earth models can also be extracted from datasets to give construction and development companies a “blank canvas” to plan projects.
When it comes to renovating existing structures, laser scanning technology can be used to survey the condition of structures, and create accurate drawings to aid design. Many buildings — particularly older buildings — will have drawings that are out of date, or drawings won’t exist at all. To effectively plan and design a renovation, accurate drawings are required to communicate technical details about the structures — and LiDAR systems can capture even the smallest details from the interior and exterior surfaces of structures which may be missed by conventional survey methods.
Reducing the Need for Site Visits
One of the main advantages of remote sensing technology, such as LiDAR systems, is that just a few members of staff can operate them. They can be mounted on tripods or moving vehicles such as cars, trains, planes, and drones. Therefore construction surveys can be carried out with fewer people on site. This is particularly beneficial when surveying sites that may be unsafe, structurally unsound, or highly trafficked. Organizations can reduce health and safety risks by reducing the number of people exposed to these hazards.
Once the survey data is transformed into 3D CAD models, contractors and specialists can view an exact digital replica of the site from any workstation or computer, given they have the right software. Project information is communicated instantly, and no delays stem from waiting for on-site visits. This makes collaboration, building design, and project management much easier, less time consuming and cheaper.
Streamlining Construction Projects
As well as playing a part in gathering pre-construction information, laser scanning equipment can streamline construction projects. 3D digital models of sites — created using point cloud data from laser scans — can not only be assessed but manipulated. This means organizations can simulate builds and test layouts and structures digitally.
By testing digitally, organizations can ensure builds are completed in the most efficient way possible. This will also help organizations accurately determine the volume of materials needed, reducing the risk of materials running out before a project is complete, and preventing overspending on unnecessary materials.
Reducing Construction Rework Costs
The cost of rework often accounts for 5% or more of total construction costs, which for larger projects can total many thousands or even millions of dollars.
Using laser scanning to assess and simulate building projects, teams can identify any potential problems that might arise during construction. By detecting conflicts and issues during the early stages of the project — before building work has even begun — organizations can avoid timeline delays and come up with solutions before starting construction, drastically reducing the cost of rework.