Michigan Contractor Sees Strong ROI with Laser Scanning

Recent advances in laser scanning technology have allowed construction companies to collect highly accurate details on real-world conditions, in record time, with minimal cost. Capturing millions of data points, called a point cloud, can be leveraged on a variety of project types to increase safety, lower costs, and reduce the labor investment.

With most laser scanning projects, the time required to capture the data onsite is diminished by at least 50 to 70 percent compared to traditional survey methods. A team using traditional methods for measurement of approximately 280,000 square-feet of congested industrial space would take an average of 15 days. Laser scanning would be significantly faster and safer, taking 4 days to complete.

As one example, Barton Malow is leveraging laser scanning to deliver precise field-accurate site conditions for use within a 3D model.

The team recently conducted a cost/benefit analysis on the benefits of in-house laser scanning capabilities. The team found that the cost of investment for laser scanning equipment and the use of in-house manpower can quickly be equalized against the cost of renting equipment or engaging a subcontractor to perform the scans. Compare a total hardware cost of $95,000 against the current rental cost at $850 per day, the investment in purchasing the equipment can be realized after 15-20 projects with an average scan time of four days per project.

Put in action, Barton Malow is serving as the construction manager for the new Shinola Hotel, located at 1400 Woodward in downtown Detroit. The team is using laser scanning to precisely measure for new structural steel placement in between two historic buildings. Using data from the laser scan, it was able to accurately identify the distance from the centerline of every column to the existing face of 1400 Woodward building as well as the distance from the centerline of every column to the existing face of the 1416 Woodward Building. There was uncertainty about the thickness of the brick walls of the existing structures. Through analysis of the scan data and 3D design model, it was determined that modifications to the structural steel design would be needed to accommodate the existing conditions. Catching this early in design reduced unknown risks to schedule and quality of the project.

Laser scanning was also used to create a 3D point cloud of an existing alley fire escape on the 1400 Woodward Building for accurate restoration efforts. The deteriorated fire escape was unsafe for anyone to access, but the team needed a way to capture the measurements for reproduction of the structure. Laser scanning captured the existing stairs in 3D, with precise accuracy, without any of the safety concerns that traditional methods would have entailed. Laser scanning is quickly becoming an owner requirement and is an integral piece of a greater reality capture picture that includes 360 imagery, drones, and thermal imaging.

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