2016 – winter Issue

3D Scanner Technology: Getting the Whole Picture

New technology is revolutionizing operations for Interstates? PDP team (PLANNING, DESIGN, PREFAB). The Leica ScanStation P40 is a 3D laser scanner that is able to scan the 3D geometry of civil infrastructures, create an as-built representation of large industry complexes, and can generate 3D data for integration into Building Information Modeling (BIM). The PDP team investigated many options before choosing this particular model of scanner, hoping to take measuring and modeling to new levels in order to save time and money on projects.

The scanner technology is cutting edge but not hard to understand. It uses lasers to determine the distance and shape of objects, forming an image from the data that returns to the scanner. ?What that does is give us an accurate ? to 100th of an inch ? image of whatever area we?re scanning, and it ultimately creates a model for us,? explains Josh Gillespie, Planning Team Manager at Interstates. The model is then used in Interstates? 3D drafting software as a piece of BIM or can be used on its own for fabricating conduit.

This new equipment allows the PDP team to scan large areas in very little time. ?Before, we would send our planners to sites and they would be onsite for weeks, taking steel measurements on paper. Then they would return and enter in all the data to start drafting in order to route conduit through the steel. There were many opportunities for errors to occur,? says Gillespie, adding, ?With this scanner, we?re eliminating all that potential for error, and what would normally take days to measure out, we?re completing in hours.?

Currently, all PDP team members are trained to use the scanner, and the goal is to have field leaders and project coordinators using the scanner by themselves in the near future. ?Ultimately, we?d like to send the scanner out to the jobsite, have those individuals use it, and then send it back,? says Gillespie.

While the team learns the ins and outs of the scanner?s software and trains more users, the technology is already saving time and lowering costs on projects.

At a recent shutdown in Gibson City, IL, there was an electric room that had no straight walls. ?Every wall was curved,? says Gillespie, ?which makes it extremely hard to take measurements accurately, and there were no CAD drawings available. We were able to go in and scan that project in about two and a half hours. With a couple more hours back at the office, we were able to have drawings that our engineering and construction departments could use for that facility.? Without the scanner, an additional site trip would have been necessary, adding $5000-$7000 of cost to the project. Thanks to the efficiency and versatility of the new scanner, Interstates can take on projects that are more time sensitive or were deemed too difficult in the past; response time on projects will be faster. Gillespie also notes that the PDP team is able to do more with their designs and fabrications, which has resulted in better communication with workers in the field: ?You always hear a picture is worth a thousand words, and now instead of us having a partial image or half a picture, you have the whole thing, which is a lot easier to see and understand."