Over the last several years, the construction industry has adopted many new digital technologies to help improve efficiency, reduce overall project risk, minimize rework, improve communication, and optimize project designs. The adoption of these technologies has been catalyzed by new challenges within the industry, such as those stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent safety guidelines. As the industry continues to navigate through these added challenges, teams need robust methods to work remotely while maintaining efficiency and accuracy.
3D laser scanning is among the growing list of technologies being integrated into the new digital project execution workflow. From front-end planning through construction, the utilization of 3D laser scanning for construction projects can improve risk identification and mitigation while producing more efficient installations that minimize overall schedule duration and cost.
Let’s take a closer look into 3D laser scanning for construction projects, the added benefits of laser scanning throughout the entire project life cycle, and when to utilize 3D laser scanning.
3D Laser Scanning for Construction Projects
3D laser scanning for construction—also referred to as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) or High Definition Surveying (HDS)—is the process of capturing, mapping, and visualizing the 3D geometry of existing site infrastructure and existing plant conditions. This scan can then be uploaded and processed in the proper coordinates into a file that can be loaded into modeling software, providing a highly accurate (typically accurate up to +/- 1/16”) representation of the facility that can be used in a variety of ways. This highly accurate and detailed information lends itself well to optimizing project designs for both constructability and maintainability. Having access to this level of detailed information is also crucial for an effective and efficient engineering team.
Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning Throughout the Project Lifecycle
3D laser scanning technology can be incorporated to capture existing infrastructure, improve engineering efficiency, provide virtual walkthroughs, and produce a final product with improved dimensional accuracy, clash detection, and clarity. The integration of laser scanning throughout the entire project life cycle provides many notable benefits to project owners and contractors, as listed below.
Benefits During the Front-End Planning Phase/Scope Development
- Virtual walkthroughs
- Early identification of issues and difficulties
- Assistance in producing optimal project options
- Remote or tight location accessibility
- Continuous workflow without delays
Benefits During the Detail Engineering and Design Phase
- Scan integration into CADworx
- Model reviews with scan overlays
- Image capture via laser scanner
- Alignment of operations and maintenance interests
- Ability to design around obstructions
- Elimination of inaccuracies and uncertainty
- Ability to overlay existing infrastructure with new infrastructure
Benefits During the Procurement and Fabrication Phase
- Verification of critical fabrication items
- Ability to provide seamless installation
- Increased time for necessary adjustments
Benefits During the Construction Phase
- Minimization of rework
- Cost savings from scanning up front
- Integration of all disciplines to minimize field errors
- Quick mitigation of issues after project start
When to Utilize 3D Laser Scanning for Construction Projects
The integration of 3D laser scanning can benefit any capital project; however, there are certain circumstances in which 3D laser scanning can be particularly helpful for constructability purposes. Here are several examples of when to use laser scanning for constructability throughout the project life cycle:
3D Laser Scanning Case Studies Throughout the Project Lifecycle
To provide further insight into how 3D laser scanning can be integrated into each project phase, we have provided case studies highlighting the encountered problem and the solution achieved via laser scanning.
Case Study One: Front-End Planning/Scope Development
Issue: Determine the best location for new equipment with minimal impacts on existing equipment.
Solution: Scan the facility to determine where the best fit is with the least impact on operations, maintenance, construction, and future work in the area.
Case Study Two: Detail Engineering and Design
Issue: Locating tie-ins and identifying demo scope.
Solution: Utilize the scanner to take pictures for better identification in the field.
Case Study Three: Procurement and Fabrication
Issue: The tank was field erected, and upon completion of the tank, it was discovered that the nozzle angle and projects were slightly off from the drawing/model. This was critical, as a lined pipe was routed to the tank.
Solution: Scan the tank at the site and drop it into the model to identify any discrepancies and rework in design rather than construction.
Case Study Four: Construction
Issue: 18” weld at north/upper 45 was sitting on new pipe support.
Solution: The header was lengthened to push the north/upper 45 further south/down and off the pipe support. This fix pushed the 45 south, but the travel had to be shortened to keep the piping on the new piping support as shown in the above image. The 6” line required modification for the same reason.
The H+M Advantage
Our 3D laser scanning services are fully integrated into every service we provide and are incorporated throughout our EPC approach to provide benefits through every phase of your capital project. Whether you require design-build or design-bid-build project delivery, our 3D laser scanning services provide unique advantages and greater efficiency through each phase of your project, from front-end planning to construction. Our utilization of cutting-edge laser scanning technology enables us to produce predictable project execution while reducing project risks.
“Our in-house laser scanning allows our team to capture an accurate representation of any facility. Using this data, we are able to provide you with the speed and accuracy needed to achieve a successful project with minimal rework.”
Jessica Adams, P.E.
Mechanical Department Manager