image truepoint275Laser scanning provides the means to quickly capture 3D data points or points clouds that can be used to develop 3D models and other deliverables. These applications have grown in number over time and continue to expand. At the same time, many people and organizations are becoming interested in laser scanning for the first time. These organizations often find that their needs have grown or they are required to establish monitoring and inventory - asset management baselines. Since computers and the associated technology needed to produce 3D models are readily available, this task is easier and less complex now. TruePoint Scanning based in Ohio has been working with laser scanning technology to break down the barriers for users and to help them put the technology to work.


Background on Laser Scanning
Although laser scanning technology has been around since the 1960s, it was not until the late 1990s when the technology was applied to engineering and construction industries. Laser scanning only became mainstream in the early 2010s when scanners were finally fast enough, computers were powerful enough, software could handle point clouds (the raw scan data) and most importantly, the world was moving to 3D models and deliverables.

All of these factors working together have made laser scanning what it is today – a useful tool for quickly and accurately capturing the complex world in 3-dimensions.

Even though most people are aware of laser scanning technology today, there are many that have never used the technology on their projects. There are many reasons for this, but one of the major factors is that, like many new technologies, it requires a change in workflow and mindset. Often times this can be a scary proposition when you are looking to incorporate a new technology and workflow to an existing project.

Our client
One year ago, a new client faced this exact dilemma. Our firm introduced their company to laser scanning and some of the vast applications the technology could address in their field. During our presentation, the attendees identified a project where they faced complex challenges that laser scanning could solve. They were hesitant to move forward since this project was larger in scale than their typical projects, and they were uncomfortable suggesting the use of laser scanning on their project. Our firm understood their apprehension and explained that there was little risk to them to try our services, and they would greatly benefit from this approach.

The client had budgeted and planned to make several site visits to the facility, which was located in another state, with several personnel for a lengthy period of time. We suggested to the client that they reduce their number of site visits to one and instead divert those funds to paying for our services to scan the facility. We also explained that follow-up site visits wouldn’t be necessary once they received the deliverables. They would have all the information readily available to them while they sat comfortably at their computers in their corporate headquarters.

Fig. 1 Colorized Point Cloud of Plant OverviewFig. 1 - Colorized Point Cloud of Plant Overview

About the project
This project was to install new emissions control systems, known as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to an existing 2,120 megawatt per hour coal power plant. The client’s challenge was that these new systems would be built 150’-200’ above the existing structure and require erecting a structural platform to support all of the new equipment. This meant that a significant amount of new steel and structural components needed to be carefully designed to not interfere or clash with a complex maze of existing systems and structure. Even minor clashes could be costly to fix and cause delays in the already-tight construction schedule.

Fig. 2 - Colorized image and point cloud from below the flueFig. 2 - Colorized image and point cloud from below the flue 

Scanning the site took a 2-man crew three days to capture below the flues, above the flues, and the surrounding area. For this project, the client opted to receive the point cloud (raw) data so they could use it for clash detection against their design model.

The scanning portion of the job was completed at the end of the work week. The data was imported, registered and processed by our team of in-house engineers, and turned over at the beginning of the following week. Within 3 days of receiving the data, the client sent us an e-mail stating, “Our disciplines have been utilizing the Point Cloud and TruView information and it has been of value.

We have discovered a few clashes with our structural steel, which may not have ever been caught, so I feel the services has already paid for itself.” – Joe Gidcumb, P.E., Project Manager. While we knew this was the right tool for the project, hearing that the client valued their Return on Investment (ROI) makes us confident that our services not only met their expectations, but we could expect them to call us again.

With more companies realizing the value of 3-D laser scanning everyday, we know that it is just a matter of time before it becomes an invaluable and necessary tool in all construction projects.

Fig. 3 Image and point cloud of scan area on top of the flueFig. 3 - Image and point cloud of scan area on top of the flue

TruePoint Laser Scanning is an Ohio-based engineering firm whose sole business is providing its clients with quality 3D laser scanning services through state-of-the-art equipment and software, expertise in engineering and architecture, and superior customer service.


 Ryan Hacker is CEO at Truepoint Scanning based in Ohio.

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