3D Reality Capture Tools Enhance Productivity, Accuracy, Quality of Project, Panelists Attest

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS & REVIEW MAGAZINE

Reality capture services and technologies utilizing 3D laser scanners and drones are accelerating and enhancing construction project workflow and benefitting owners in the process.

At the 8th annual Associated General Contractors of Missouri’s Design & Construction Technology Conference Oct. 25th at the St. Louis Science Center, attendees gained a sense of how the latest industry-specific 3D modeling resources are satisfying project owners, expediting design and in many cases saving labor costs by virtually performing work that was once done in the field.

During the reality capture panel discussion moderated by Apogee Consulting Group BIM Manager Adam Lega, experts from Clayco, TWM, Inc., Seiler Design Group, PrecisionPoint, Inc. and Apogee fielded questions on the latest and greatest devices for capturing construction project imagery virtually and feeding it back to designers to accelerate the planning and design of a project as well as saving time and money that would traditionally have been spent in bringing surveyors to the physical site.

“Sending humans into the field to document conditions with sketchpads and tape measures was the way it was done for a long time,” said Lega. “Today it’s often done via laser imaging, detection and ranging (LIDAR), and through the use of ground-penetrating radar, photogrammetry and orthophotomosaics.”

Tomislav Žigo, VP of Virtual Design & Construction at Clayco, said as high-tech surveying and modeling resources continue to gain sophistication and as prices come down, reality capture becomes affordable and approachable for project owners and their design and construction partners. “Reality capture gives us the opportunity to use ‘super-human’ powers and capture what cannot be seen by the naked eye,” said Žigo.

Owners are also buying into what reality capture can mean to their project and their bottom line, according to Harvey Wright, Sales Manager at Seiler Design Solutions. “The business case for mobile mapping is to make your projects more profitable,” Wright said. “Rather than sending two architects out into the field for a day to take full measurements, I can go out and collect that same interior and exterior site data and produce a .las file (of an aerial LIDAR scan) for much less cost.”

Point clouds – sets of data points in space that are produced by 3D scanners via reality capture and are used to create virtual building models – require great amounts of digital storage capability, Žigo told AGC MO conference guests. “If you really want to get into the reality capture business, start thinking 50 terabytes or more,” he said, “otherwise you’ll be crawling and have nowhere to store all the information you’ll be collecting.”

Other reality capture panelists included Andy Joost, Geospatial Data Manager for TWM, Inc.; Mark Hanna, CEO/Founder of PrecisionPoint, Inc.; and Josh VandenEnde, Project Manager & Business Manager at Apogee Consulting Group.

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