Laser Scanning Paired with BIM Saves Time and Money

3D scanning, BIM

Last summer, DJM, a BIM and design specialist, received a request to 3D scan fire damage at a Rockway, N.J., manufacturing facility. More than 33,000 square feet of critical ductwork was affected, disrupting operations. While making do with temporary air conditioning units, the damaged duct needed to be replaced as soon as possible to get operations back up to 100 percent. Using a combination of 3D scanning services and BIM, DJM scanned and turned around new HVAC drawings in just four days.

DJM’s team used a FARO 3D scanner to capture images of the fire-damaged ductwork.

The Monday after the initial call, DJM’s Head of 3D Scanning John Brown visited the manufacturing facility and within minutes was verifying the site. Instead of hand-measured, 2D plans of the duct’s size, locations throughout the building were captured in 3D with a scanner. The 3D scanning and Building Information Modeling (BIM) teams at DJM worked hand in hand to simultaneously scan and draft the replacement duct. As each section of the facility was scanned, Brown would process the data and send it to the drafting team for rapid BIM modeling. 

By modeling the new duct from the 3D scan, DJM’s draftsmen allowed the client to speed up the repair process and order materials a week ahead of schedule. Additionally, the accuracy afforded by laser technology ensured that the new equipment fit on the first try. “With a laser scanner, there’s no room for measurement inaccuracy,” Brown says. “Pairing 3D scanning with BIM technology saves a lot of time and headaches.” 

A BIM model was drawn from the 3D scan (left). The completed BIM model from the 3D scan is shown on the right.

In comparison, manual field verification for this job would have been time consuming and disruptive. Three skilled tradesmen, a scissor lift, and about two weeks would be necessary to measure and document the duct by hand due to its complexity, location and size. With a little over 100 scans and four days, the measurements and drawings were completed. This cut the project’s timeline down by 10 days and reduced the cost by 71 percent. Brown said that using the laser scan as a base layer for BIM has helped DJM complete jobs significantly faster. “Augmenting BIM models with laser scanning has been a game-changer,” he says.

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