Laser Scanning in Construction in All Stages of EPC
Laser Scanning in Construction in All Stages of EPC

Over the last several years, the construction industry has adopted many new digital technologies to improve efficiency, increase quality assurance, reduce overall project risk, minimize rework, improve communication, and optimize project designs. New challenges within the industry have catalyzed the adoption of these technologies, 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.

Laser scanning in construction 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 in 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 at laser scanning in construction projects, the added benefits of laser scanning throughout the entire project life cycle, and when to utilize 3D models.

What is Laser Scanning in Construction Projects?

Laser scanning in 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

Constructability refers to the idea of optimally and strategically utilizing construction knowledge and experience in the earlier phases of a capital project, including during front-end planning, detail engineering and design, and procurement, to achieve project requirements and objectives. Constructability includes processes of identifying potential obstacles to decrease project risk. Constructability should be evaluated from every project stage, beginning with the initial phase of Scope Development during FEL 1. Delaying the evaluation can cause rework in later stages of the process. 

Maintainability refers to the processes essential for sustaining a plant's longevity. This includes keeping the equipment and facility running smoothly.

Benefits of Utilizing Laser Scanning in Construction Projects

Having access to the level of detailed information provided by 3D laser scanning in construction is also crucial for an effective and efficient engineering team. Incorporating laser scanning in construction early on can really help with plans to augment unit access roadways, transportation process equipment, large crane placement for projects, and more.

Laser scanning can increase accuracy as it allows the viewing of obstructions to be found easier than a standard walk-through. This helps decrease potential project risk with optimized project designs.

At H+M Industrial EPC, whether you require design-build or design-bid-build project delivery, utilizing our 3D laser scanning can provide unique advantages and greater efficiency through each phase of your project.

We believe utilizing laser scanning in construction is a best practice. Since the use of 3D laser scanning in construction started being implemented in the industry, entire projects have benefited by having the knowledge provided by the scans available. The scans can be in grayscale or color, as well as regular pictures. The cost is also minute in comparison to the provided benefits of reducing risks that could end up costing more later in the project lifecycle.  

If contractors have the ability to utilize 3D laser scanning, projects will get an edge over the competition. This is because projects will not have to wait for third parties to step in and add this extra value. If your projects have a history of consistent rework, 3D laser scanning can significantly reduce rework for future projects. It’s also fairly easy to utilize. To set up a scan, all you need is stable ground and a plan.

3D Laser Scanning Services Throughout the Project Lifecycle

H+M In-House 3D Laser Scanning Systems

3D Laser Scanning Systems ScanStation P30 BLK360
Survey/Setup Functionality
Distance Measurement System
Maximum Range 120 m 60 m
Maximum Scan Rate 1 mio pts/sec 360,000 pts/sec
Selectable Sensitivity Levels
Resolution Settings 7 (0.8 mm to 50 mm @ 10 m) 3 (5/10/20 mm @ 10 m)
Laser Class 1 1
Laser Wavelength 1550 nm (invisible) 830 nm (invisible)
Tilt Sensor Dual Axis Compensator IMU
Imaging System
Internal Camera
External Camera Optional
IR Camera
Operating Temperature -20°C to +50°C +5°C to +40°C
Solid Particle/Liquid Ingress Protection IP54 IP54

Projects can incorporate 3D laser scanning technology to capture existing infrastructure, improve engineering efficiency, provide virtual walkthroughs of construction sites, 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, including:

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

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 

During the Procurement and Fabrication Phase

  • Verification of critical fabrication items
  • Ability to provide seamless installation
  • Increased time for necessary adjustments

During the Construction Phase

  • Minimization of rework
  • Cost savings from scanning upfront
  • Integration of all disciplines to minimize field errors
  • Quick mitigation of issues after project start

Scenarios and Case Studies: Using 3D Laser Scanning Through The Project Lifecycle

Workers inside a large industrial plant.

Integrating laser scanning in construction can benefit capital projects during each phase of the project lifecycle. At H+M Industrial EPC, we’ve fully integrated our 3D laser scanning services into every service we provide, as well as incorporated throughout our EPC approach to provide benefits through every phase of your capital project. To provide further insight into how you can integrate 3D laser scanning into each project phase in construction, we have provided circumstances in which laser scanning can be helpful for constructability and case studies using laser scanning in construction for each of the phases of the project lifecycle. 

3D Laser Scanning for Constructability: Project Phases

When to Utilize 3D Laser Scanning for Constructability

Project Phase


Front-End Planning/Scope Development

  • Multiple layout options available for consideration
  • Accessibility issues (e.g. tight and/or remote)
  • Multiple scheduling options for project execution (i.e. turnaround vs. pre-turnaround)
  • Topography analysis with high accuracy needed for greenfield projects

Detail Engineering and Design

  • Obstructions present in facility
  • Previous issues with inaccuracies and uncertainty
  • Misaligned interests between operations and maintenance
  • Confirmation needed for the built conditions of the plant

Procurement and Fabrication

  • Critical fabrication present (e.g. field erected tanks, higher design tolerances, unique pipe geometry, etc.)
  • Time limitations for install
  • Confirmation needed for the geometry of remotely-fabricated equipment before shipping


  • Previous communication issues across disciplines
  • Isolation plan for tie-points needed
  • Time limitations/restrictions after project start
  • Challenging construction execution, accessibility, congestion, etc. expected
  • Verification of third-party engineering deliverables against plant needed

Case Studies: 3D Laser Scanning in Construction

These case studies will provide valuable information and knowledge as to why 3D laser scanning is beneficial for all aspects of the project lifecycle. From front-end planning/scope development to the construction phase, 3D laser scanning is able to produce images and scans to benefit the accuracy of your project. 

Case Study One: Front-End Planning/Scope Development 

The scan of a facility’s structure to find impacts on existing equipment.

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

Collage of photos identifying the impact points of different pipelines.

‍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

Tank with nozzles that need fixing from 3D modeling.‍

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

Diagram of pipe rack showing one pipe laying on the support of another pipe.

Issue: 18” weld at north/upper 45 was sitting on new pipe support.

Solution: Lengthen the header 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

H+M Industrial EPC logo.

At H+M Industrial EPC, we’ve fully integrated our 3D laser scanning services into every service we provide, as well as incorporated throughout our EPC approach to provide benefits through every phase of your capital project. With over 30 years of experience in the EPC Industry, we can efficiently execute all the requirements of your capital project. Whether you require design-build or design-bid-build project delivery, using laser scanning in construction can provide unique advantages and greater efficiency through each phase of your project. H+M’s innovative in-house laser scanning technology enables us to produce predictable project execution while reducing project risks.

Are you ready to start your project with the leading capital contractor in the energy, chemical, and terminal and logistics industries? Contact H+M Industrial EPC today!

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Robyn Hall
Sr. Marketing Manager
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