3 Often Overlooked Advantages of 3D Scanning

March 26, 2020 David Burczyk

3D laser scanning is an important technology advancement in the construction industry. Since arriving on the scene nearly two decades ago, the tool has allowed construction professionals to capture highly accurate site conditions and as-built information with greater ease and confidence. 

When used for renovation and remodeling projects, 3D laser scanning makes it much easier to document and visualize the current as-built conditions. The data can be used to create as-builts when they don’t currently exist, as well as to create accurate 3D models and compare drawings or documentation against as-built conditions.

Get the eBook to discover how 3D scanning can
help your renovation projects run smoother.

For new construction, 3D laser scanning of site conditions helps with construction planning. It can also help you verify that prefabricated components are constructed and assembled accurately before they’re installed. And just as with renovations and remodels, the scan data also gives you a reliable way to track and compare your work against 3D models and drawings, as well as check off project milestones as they’re completed. 

If you’ve used 3D scanning, you already know the benefits it brings to BIM and other workflows, including:

  • Detailed project data
  • Faster data collection
  • Reduction of rework
  • Increased productivity
  • Documentation of work conducted 

These benefits speak largely to the improvements in efficiency and accuracy that 3D scanning has brought to the construction industry. But there are additional advantages that are not as often discussed or that you may not have thought about. Here are three benefits of 3D scanning worthy of greater attention.

3D Scanning Minimizes Disruptions

When a construction project kicks off, your team must scope, measure, and capture the current conditions and details of the site. For renovation and remodeling projects, there may be people living or working in the space that you have to accommodate and work around. While it’s a necessary part of the job, your presence can feel like an intrusion. If you’re still using inefficient manual methods to take measurements or if you have to come back multiple times to make sure you’ve captured all the information you need, your impact on the occupants of the space is felt all the more. 

In addition to making it easier to capture current project details, 3D scanning limits the impact of your work on owners and the occupants of their facilities. Because of its remote capabilities, scanning can be done quickly with minimal or no interruption to those working in or occupying the space. You can discreetly and unobtrusively gather detailed as-built conditions while employees, residents, and others are present on the site. 

Additionally, scanning can be used to facilitate prefabrication off site. You can use scan data of as-built conditions to efficiently build components off site and more predictably install them without rework. By minimizing onsite construction requirements, you’re able to further minimize your impact on those living in, working at, or visiting the site. This can be particularly significant when working on sensitive facilities like schools, hospitals and other healthcare buildings, 24/7 manufacturing plants, and apartment buildings where closing them for any period of time isn’t practical or feasible.

“The construction industry’s continued adoption of 3D laser scanning is significant, as it will facilitate new project development and maintenance and operations of existing property.”

- Global Market Insights

3D Scanning Improves Safety

On a construction jobsite, there are any number of hazardous conditions and safety concerns that can put your team at risk. Supported by the speed and power of 3D laser scanning, you can improve your team’s safety by minimizing the amount of time they’re exposed to known hazards or potentially threatening environments. You can get accurate data quickly and without having to spend excessive time on a dangerous jobsite. 

Capture as-built conditions safely and more simply than ever.
Download the eBook to learn how.

The data returned from 3D scanning can further improve safety by allowing you to pre-plan your work and identify otherwise unknown hazards and threats in existing structures. You’re able to avoid putting your workers at unnecessary risk by identifying potential issues before they become real problems. The scan data can even be used in safety and equipment training. An unfamiliar jobsite is a naturally risk-prone environment, but 3D scans allow you to provide a realistic preview of the space, making it easier for workers to acclimate once they’re actually on the site. 

Beyond the identification of hazards, the scan data also helps with site logistics planning. With the 3D model as a reference, owners and workers alike can better determine how to work efficiently and safely within the area, including the best equipment to use and schedules to implement. This is particularly important on urban projects and sites that must remain open for business during construction. In addition to the obvious safety implications, improving construction logistics also has the potential to improve project productivity by as much as 30%.

3D Scanning Almost Always Pays for Itself

The safety benefits alone can make 3D scanning an easy decision—and an invaluable one. But as a tool, 3D scanning also has widespread application potential that makes it possible to use it in more ways than you may realize—and make it accessible to more people on your team than you may have thought possible.  

There are new 3D laser scanners entering the market that don’t require special training and can be quickly learned by a variety of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals right in the field. You can use a single scanning solution across a number of functional areas, allowing each team to get the information they need, when they need it. And you can quickly obtain accurate scan data to share across teams, facilitating greater collaboration and stronger communication.

Additionally, when you put a 3D scanner with in-field registration directly into the hands of those who need the project information, they’re able to capture complete and accurate data the first time, shortening project schedules by eliminating the need to build in extra time for re-scans or accommodate the schedules of outsourced service providers. With more accurate data at your team’s fingertips, you can prevent rework, as well as the wasted time and materials that come with it. With these improvements to your efficiency, you can save significant time and money that translates to rapid ROI on your 3D scanning investment. 

Experience All of the Benefits of 3D Scanning

3D laser scanning has brought a number of advantages and benefits to the construction industry, maybe even more than you initially realized. Beyond providing greater accuracy, efficiency, and productivity, 3D scanning minimizes site disruptions and improves safety. And given the number of ways you can use 3D scanning to improve project performance, it’s a worthwhile investment for many construction firms. 

Recent advancements in 3D laser scanning technology, like more intuitive operation and automatic features, are also making scanning more accessible to more members of your team. Project engineers and layout specialists can capture the field project data they need when they need it, without relying on specialists. By putting scanning into the hands of those who need the information the most, you’re able to get even more mileage out of a scanning investment—and uncover many of the surprises that may have left you guessing in the past.

To learn how 3D scanning can help you reveal the hidden dangers that throw remodeling projects off course, get the eBook.

About the Author

David Burczyk

David Burczyk is the Segment Manager for the 3D Capture Portfolio with Trimble Buildings. With over twenty years of AEC industry experience promoting technology and collaboration among design and construction teams, David brings a comprehensive understanding of Building Information Models (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) processes. Through the use of 3D capture and positioning technology, David is focused on the development and implementation of tailored solutions to advance the field productivity of AEC contractors, architects, and engineers.

Follow on Linkedin Visit Website More Content by David Burczyk
Previous Article
5 Things You Didn't Know About Scanning
5 Things You Didn't Know About Scanning

Relatively new to 3D scanning? You’ll first want to understand the differences between the two basic types ...

Next Article
Why 3D Scanning Is a Smart Idea for Structural Contractors
Why 3D Scanning Is a Smart Idea for Structural Contractors

As a construction professional, you’ve probably seen 3D laser scanners in use on construction sites. These ...