by Lauren Williams, CM-BIM, BIM Manager, S. M. Wilson & Co.
The use of 3D scanners to assist in construction delivery is not new; however, the latest technology is changing the delivery of end products to clients. 3D scanning can provide more accurate and precise documentation and virtual project tours.
The mechanics are simple. The 3D camera scans a space and records each surface, corner and crevice with billions of tiny point coordinates. The entire scan is called a "point cloud." Since point clouds are visually difficult to depict, the camera also takes high definition photos of the space. The high-definition image is overlaid on point cloud data creating a 3D image. A back-end hosting service then uses visual references in the photographs to stitch scans together from common identified coordinates.
The end product is an interactive 3D tour of the space. Similar to Google Maps street view, a user is able to travel through hallways, rooms or even up and down stairs by clicking directional arrows. The technology allows a client to switch between floorplan, dollhouse and "street view" through selection icons. The end product offers a virtual tour of construction progress or the finished building complete with labels, links and interactive data.
The latest evolution of laser scanning technology can provide clients with:
- Photo Documentation – A space can be scanned in the same location once a month for 3D interactive jobsite progress documentation, and a link to the model can be embedded into a Google Project Site or the client's website.
- Measurements - Using the desktop workshop module, measurements can be pulled on just about anything within an accuracy of about 1%. This is useful for scanning existing spaces or pulling virtual dimensions.
- Interactive As-builts –The technology allows notes using the tag feature. Tags can include text or a hyperlink. This feature could be used for As-Built and O&M delivery by tagging equipment and linking product information via O&M documents stored on Google Drive. Allowing facility personnel to virtually walk through their space and click on the active links to find the exact information needed regarding their building systems.
- Installation Accuracy - Raw point cloud data can be merged with MEPFP BIM Models. This can be done for renovated areas or new construction to check accuracy of installed systems.
- Virtual Reality - Yes… a 3D virtual reality tour via virtual glasses can be given of a project’s progress or completed tours of other projects.
View the end product by taking a tour of S. M. Wilson’s headquarters:
Lauren Williams, CM-BIM is the BIM Manager at S. M. Wilson & Co. As BIM Manager for S. M. Wilson & Co., Lauren is responsible for being an advocate for the innovations set forth through concepts of virtual design and construction by providing BIM and other Construction Technology related solutions through the lifecycle of a project. She interacts with project teams to facilitate collaboration and communication during construction as well as strategizes to implement tactful and pragmatic approaches to BIM and Construction Technology during business development and preconstruction. Lauren earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Stanford University in 2005, is a nationally approved instructor for the AGC of America’s BIM Education Program, has co-chaired the AGC MO Design & Construction Technology Conference for five years, and serves as a committee member for both the AGC of Missouri Technology Committee and the AGC National IT Forum Steering Committee.
S. M. Wilson is a full-service construction management, design/build and general contracting firm with headquarters in St. Louis. S. M. Wilson is one of the largest general construction and construction management firms in the St. Louis area.