Case Study: Sleeve Validation Through Progressive Scanning

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Case Study: Sleeve Validation Through Progressive Scanning

Sanitary sleeves installed using BIM point layout.

Sanitary sleeves installed using BIM point layout.

To avoid the messy and time-consuming process of coring recently cured cement, mechanical contractors often layout sleeves for future plumbing before the cement is poured. This was the approach Andy J. Egan Co. took for the new construction of a 10-story hospital to avoid any construction interference with the building’s radiant heating system. Traditional layout methods are prone to human error, however, and by the company’s estimates, would have taken two weeks per floor.

Egan partnered with sister company 3D imaging Services to layout sleeve locations, using a total station that’s coordinated with the project’s BIM model. Once survey control is established, the crew is able to mark installation locations with .5 inch accuracy. Each floor required 350-400 points, which the 3DIS team completed in just two days, far less than the two weeks estimated for a manual layout.

3D point layout and progressive scanning of sanitary sleeves.

3D point layout and progressive scanning of sanitary sleeves.

In addition, the project team used progressive laser scanning to validate the location of those sleeves and hangers once they were installed. Doing so ensured that any field errors were caught early and immediately corrected, or accounted for in the plumbing fabrication being done off site. Both the site superintendent and project manager agreed that this combination of progressive scanning and fabrication saved significant time and money on this project.

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Sculptures and Gardens in Grand Rapids

The original was thirteen years in planning, design, and construction. This year, after 22 years in operation, the Frederik Meijer Gardens began a $115 million expansion and improvement project for several buildings on the grounds. A new education section, new entryway, new mezzanine, and office space are all included in the expansion of the main building. 3-dimensional laser scanning has already yielded four significant advantages to the architects and engineers running the project.

First, the engineers and architects used the expertise of 3D Imaging Services to laser scan and to build a base Revit model of the building. The extensive model cut the time to prepare various required documents in half, according to the Engineering BIM Manager, Steve Saltsman of Progressive AE. He added, “3DIS became an extension of our team, working with us to finish on time.”

Second, the new Revit model supplanted inaccurate printed documents. The laser scanning revealed significant errors in the old drawings, e.g. structural columns that were actually a foot away from where the drawings showed them. Also, the new model contains a lot more detail than the printed construction documents. And the laser scanning data includes every detail of the building, inside and out. By correcting the errors of the old drawings, both engineers and architects have a perfect base on which to build their new designs. The longer the errors went undetected, the more expensive it would have been to correct them. A common estimating heuristic says correcting such errors during construction is as much as 500 times more expensive than making the correction in the early stages of design.

Third, the use of a common, accurate base model has made communication between the architects and the engineers much easier. Changes made by one organization are immediately visible to all the others. Coordinating changes has become almost trivial instead of worrisome and prone to errors.

Fourth, with desktop access to the laser scanning data, the engineers and architects can answer a myriad of questions that come up during every project. (“Is there enough space to bring in the new chiller through that aisle?” What about the cable overhead?) These and many other questions are answered with a few clicks without ever leaving your comfortable office chair. No trip to the site – three states over – is needed. The savings in time and money compound.

Do you have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business or area of study? Give us a call or drop a line.

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Case Study: BIM Point Layout "Pays For Itself"

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Case Study: BIM Point Layout "Pays For Itself"

Working as a foreman for 3DIS sister company Andy J. Egan Co., Inc., Terry Patterson oversaw the plumbing, HVAC and medical gas for Spectrum HealthPointe, a new 100,000 square-foot hospital.

When construction began, the job site was “pretty rough” according to Terry. There were no columns in place yet and the footings were deep, so his team couldn’t use the traditional method of pulling strings to lay out the underground.

3D Imaging Services conducting BIM Point Layout onsite at Mercy HealthPointe.

3D Imaging Services conducting BIM Point Layout onsite at Mercy HealthPointe.

By overlaying the virtual model at the construction site during surveying, 3DIS accurately identified all of the underground installation points. This BIM Point Layout Method uses preset control points and the underground prints to mark 3D coordinates for components such as risers, sinks and floors drains.

Underground plumbing installed with BIM point layout

Underground plumbing installed with BIM point layout

Lacking reference points from which to measure, Terry says that this layout process was the team’s only means of measuring and that attempting a traditional layout method would have taken at least two weeks longer.

The absence of strings running throughout the site was also a welcome improvement. There’s no danger of another colleague skewing measurements by driving equipment over a string or knocking a stake out of the ground.

In addition to easier installation for field employees, Egan’s engineers were able to maintain an accurate model throughout construction by accessing the as-constructed conditions in the scan data. Terry says he absolutely would use this layout method on his next project because “with the amount of money you save, it pays for itself.”

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3DIS Project Makes ENR's Best of 2016 List

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3DIS Project Makes ENR's Best of 2016 List

Engineering News Record (ENR) has awarded the Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo the Midwest's Best Project of 2016 in the Sports and Entertainment category. The $29 million center is the world's deepest-dive penguinarium with more than 80 penguins. DeMaria was the lead contractor on the project, with support from Wharton-Smith.

The green highlights show where the as-built structure deviates from the original design.

The green highlights show where the as-built structure deviates from the original design.

3D Imaging Services provided Building Information (BIM) Validation services throughout the project using 3D laser scanning. By identifying areas where installation deviated from the BIM model, 3DIS was able to prevent costly project delays. For example, during BIM validation, 3DIS found areas where the structural steel was outside of tolerance ranges for the installation prefabricated panels. The fabricator was then able to modify the panels to fit as-built conditions before they were shipped to the job site.

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Productivity Through Progressive Scanning and BIM

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Productivity Through Progressive Scanning and BIM

Perhaps you’ve read the statistics or seen the graphs of flat or declining productivity in the construction business. 

Quit a few studies across the globe said much the same thing. Productivity almost everywhere else has been going gangbusters, but construction productivity has remained flat or declined. Even changing base periods or following different types of construction had little or no effect on the results of these studies. Productivity in construction lags seriously behind the rest of industry and commerce. 

Why?

Most articles on the subject say similar things, if in different ways. Poor project management, inadequate communications, poor risk management, poor project organization, and inadequate Work-Breakdown-Structure are among the most commonly cited culprits. While all these, and more, undoubtedly contribute to the problem, one common thread warps and woofs its way through all the studies, papers, and research. Communication. 

Design Drawings

We’re not talking a lack of cell phones here. It’s communication among groups. Here’s an example. The architect may work on paper, or with a 2D CAD program, or with a 3D CAD. The engineering firm(s) might work in different CAD programs. The CMR might work with one set of programs, while the construction firm and subcontractors work in large format paper or some other set of software programs. And often, the communication medium among these groups is paper. 

Enter BIM (Building Information Modeling). Construction professionals have been widely adopting the BIM process to design, construct and manage buildings with the assumption that this level of 3D coordination will improve communication and increase productivity. In the field, however, manual errors still exist. Installations that deviate from the model even slightly will have a domino effect on the remainder of the project. The resulting modifications will invalidate the original model, often making it useless for long-term facility maintenance.

Progressive Field Scan

Progressive laser scanning throughout a project detects deviations from the coordinated model. All parties will see the changes and the affected trades can quickly modify their planned installations or adjust prefabricated components. These changes are then communicated back to the field immediately. This halts the domino effect and maintains the accuracy of the model. The resulting virtual model will reflect precise, as-built conditions for inclusion in a useful turnover package.

The combination of BIM and progressive laser scanning is improving communications on construction projects around the country. This leads to considerably improved productivity. In one case, 250,000 sq. ft. of medical office space was constructed with zero field-detected RFIs

Do you have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business or area of study? Give us a call or drop a line.

Point Cloud to BIM Fade 2.jpg
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Production Doesn't Stop

“We need to shut down the production line.” It’s a horrifying, angst-inducing phrase for the ears of any Production Manager, Operations Manager, or General Manager. “Why?” is unquestionably the very next word spoken.

Production managers do their best to minimize shutdowns, in frequency and duration. They carefully plan and schedule maintenance and improvements. In times past, major improvements required multiple shutdowns. At least one shutdown to gather information about the production line, to make sure the design engineers have the correct measurements and specifications for every piece of machinery in the line. And at least one shutdown for change-over.

That’s why savvy companies and their engineers choose laser scanning and resulting computer modeling to eliminate all the preliminary shutdowns for measurement. Here are two views of the CAD model produced for an industrial packaging line. The complete model and all measurements of the line were built without any interruptions in processing. The savings are enormous for such results. 

CAD models of processing line created from scan data.

CAD models of processing line created from scan data.

Alternate View of CAD Model from Scan Data

And below is a scanning-based CAD model of a continuous processing line. 

CAD Model of Processing Line.

The most modern laser scanning equipment uses lasers that are barely visible to the naked eye, and they are less dangerous than a teacher’s laser pointer. (Class 1 and sometimes Class 2 lasers, the two safest categories, are predominant in most brands.) So no one needs to leave the area when the scanners are operating. Most of the time, people don’t notice the beams at all.

And the line need not be slowed or stopped for the laser measurements. In addition to the accurate measurements, the laser scanners can detect – in post processing – equipment that is vibrating. And the advantages of scanning extend to both continuous and discrete processing lines.

Another form of processing line is electric generation. Electricity flows continuously from the generators and shutdowns are absurdly expensive. Revenue loss for a 350 Megawatt generating unit can exceed $75,000 per hour. Unplanned and unexpectedly long down times are one of the reasons Production Managers keep antacid tablets in a half-gallon jug. In one case, in a major upgrade at an electric generating unit, a single, manual-measurement error caused weeks of delay when two very large pipes that were supposed to meet were misaligned by 18”. Laser scanning to confirm measurements would have eliminated this delay completely.

Some things aren’t “production lines” in the usual meaning of the term, nevertheless, down time is not allowed. A hospital emergency room doesn’t need a sign in the window, “Open 24 Hours.” Yet emergency rooms must, from time to time, be re-modeled or improved. But in this case, it’s a combination of the speed of the equipment and the sophistication of the technical people using the scanners that eliminates any “outages” of the Emergency Room for measurements. Method here is as important as the equipment.

Do you have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business or area of study? Give us a call or drop a line.

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Everything Moves - Part 2

Parquet flooring at Monticello.

Parquet flooring at Monticello.

As we said last month, EVERYTHNG moves. Sometimes subtly, but with telling consequences. Let’s start with floors. No matter what material a floor is made of, no matter its underlayment, it moves. Even Thomas Jefferson knew this, and the parquet floors of Monticello, which he designed, adjust for the differential expansion and contraction of differing woods and grains as humidity and temperature vary with the seasons.

Automated warehouse.

Automated warehouse.

In commercial and industrial buildings, detecting the movement of flooring can be crucial to production. For example, in modern warehouses that use very tall, electronically-controlled, picking machinery to navigate between the shelving that extends to more than 40 feet, a small movement in the floor will cause the top of the picker to collide with the shelves. This is not only damaging to the equipment, but dangerous for those who ride on it. Periodic laser scanning can verify that the floors and the aisles above remain within tolerances. 

Engineers and material scientists invent new structures and building materials. Before any new design or material can be employed in construction it must be extensively tested, chemically and physically. One type of test includes building full-scale versions of components and measuring how they behave under load. One such test is underway in Southern Arizona where a team of engineers and scientists are testing a substitute for concrete. They are building small structures, about the size of a cabin, and they will place them under load until they collapse. All the while, laser scanning will measure all the deformities that may occur. This will provide unique information to the engineers, and it will speed the testing effort.

For the last example of the year, something outré. When you dig an underground tunnel, the surface is disturbed. Digging vibrates the ground and causes subsidence and other perturbations on the surface in a pattern that mimics the tunnel. Periodic laser scanning of the surface shows where the tunnel is, and where it’s going, and the rate of tunneling. And that is how we have surprised some smugglers as they emerged from their tunnel on this side of the US border.

Do you have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business or area of study? Give us a call or drop a line. (Smugglers excluded.)

3D laser scanning can detect the ground disturbances caused by tunneling.

3D laser scanning can detect the ground disturbances caused by tunneling.

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3DIS & Andy J. Egan Co. at Powergen

Representatives from 3D Imaging Services and its sister company Andy J. Egan Co. will be on hand at the upcoming Powergen Show in Orlando, to discuss the benefits of 3D laser scanning for construction projects in the power industry.

Egan, a mechanical contractor and fabricator, will share real-world examples of how laser scanning by 3DIS prevented schedule delays and costly errors during the construction of a combined-cycle natural gas plant.

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Everything Moves - Part 1

EVERYTHNG moves, even the continents. As you read this, Australia is inexorably creeping towards Alaska*. So how can we detect and measure movement if everything is moving, especially if it’s moving very slowly? And why is this important?

Hudson River in New York

Retaining walls hold back soil and water from relentless gravity. The largest permanent wall is 130 feet tall and 1400 feet long. An abrupt failure of a retaining wall can be catastrophic for anything and anyone nearby.

Along the Hudson River in New York.

If it were possible to reveal the slow movements in the wall that preceded this abrupt failure, the wall could have been repaired or reinforced before it collapsed. Laser scanning can identify changes in the shape and structure of a retaining wall that are not visible.

For example, a subtle bow or dip along the length of the wall where none is supposed to be. Your eye won’t see it, but the laser measurements will show it clearly. By scanning at regular intervals, laser scanning can reveal not only the changes in the wall, but the rate of change.

In many cities across the country, the exteriors of buildings over a certain size or age must be periodically inspected for deterioration. Manual inspection of tall buildings is very expensive, and drones are severely limited by regulation and inherent inaccuracy.

Periodic laser scanning can detect very small movements including cracks, spalls, drooping elements, bulges, et al., and at much lower cost. 3D Imaging Services performs this periodic service for an owner in New York City. 

3DIS detected surface anomalies on a historic building through 3D laser scanning.

3DIS detected surface anomalies on a historic building through 3D laser scanning.

Some parts of the country are more prone to earthquakes, but they can occur anywhere, and they’re more prevalent that you might think because we don’t always feel the ground move beneath our feet. This is just one, typical week of earthquakes under the US. 

Quakes shake and settle the ground in unpredictable ways. While small temblors might not mean much for the family home, a 10-story building, shifting only 0.5°, will be 1.57 feet out of plumb. Leaning buildings tend to lean more and more. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built vertical. Laser scanning is regularly used to check the plumb of buildings. Early detection means corrections will be much less expensive. The same technology is applied to the piles, pillars, and other parts of bridges. 

US Earthquakes per week

In all these examples, early detection of subtle movement prevents disasters and cuts correction costs. 
Next month, in Part 2 on detecting movement, we’ll discuss applications for tunneling, floors, and material and construction testing. In the meantime, if you have a project that could benefit from motion detection, give us a call or drop a line

* Hang around for the next 100,000,000 years, give or take, and you’ll walk from Brisbane to Nome.

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The Measure of History

Just across the Cumberland River from the Titans’ stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, sits a row of four-story, antebellum buildings that survived the fierce battle in late 1864 between the armies of Union General George Thomas and Confederate General John Bell Hood. Built of stone on the ground level and brick above, the buildings’ interiors have been changed many times over the last 160 years, but the exteriors remain much as they were built. They are historic buildings.

Suppose you wanted to create an elegant hotel out of these. The laws allow it, but if you must cut an opening in any exterior wall, you must replace the brickwork in exactly the same, special brick pattern used by masons before the Civil War.

Laser scanning to the rescue.

A full-color laser scan of the facades before construction will show the exact placement of each brick and stone. Taking a similar scan after construction and using computer software to compare the two scans will show the smallest deviation. This will speed approvals from the regulatory bodies. Moreover, the scans provide a precise historic record of any and all changes.

For most of human history, people have built new cities on top of older ones. When archaeologists work through such a site, they call the layers a stratigraphy. The locations of all the artifacts in all three dimensions are especially valuable to archaeologists.

Laser scanning to the rescue.

Repeated laser scanning as each layer of artifacts is exposed, combined with all prior scans, shows a complete, 3D virtual duplicate of the history of the site.

In 1783, missionaries built the San Xavier mission in the desert of southern Arizona. A few years ago, in order to assess the structural integrity of the building, engineers proposed drilling a number of holes all the way through the dome of the sanctuary in order to measure its thickness. (A dome changes in thickness from the apex to the base. Thinner at the top, thicker at the bottom.) Would you want to authorize drilling holes in this?

Laser scanning to the rescue.

By scanning both the interior and exterior of the dome, and by carefully aligning the scans to the same coordinate system, precise measurements of the thickness of the dome at all heights and angles were available.

Beyond building conservation, laser scanning has proven to be a valuable and unique tool for historians, archaeologists, paleontologists, and others seeking to understand or preserve the past.

Do you have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business or area of study? Give us a call or drop a line. 

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The Long and Short of It

In late July, 1969 – does that date jog your memory – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin carefully placed equipment for lunar research on the moon’s dusty surface. Eventually, all the equipment stopped working and the experiments ceased – all but one. That one is still working. It’s a special laser reflector which astronomers use to measure the constantly changing distance to the moon (about 238,900 miles) and other lunar movements.

A laser scanning microscope can measure the thickness of minuscule bumps and dips on surfaces to the nearest nanometer, i.e. 0.00000003937 inches. That’s not a typo, it’s 40 billionths of an inch. Both of these astonishing measurements use the same technology, but the equipment is different.

Construction, fabrication, mining, and historic preservation are among the many areas that have been significantly affected by this technology. But if one doesn’t pick the right equipment for the task at hand, the results are awful.

3D Imaging Services stays abreast of developments in laser scanning and we use that knowledge to choose the best equipment for the job at hand. Here are few of the criteria we use.

In surface mining, we use laser scanning to measure slope angles, ground movement, and volumes, so scanning equipment that can reach out 2 kilometers or more is best suited. The rate of scanning is slower, and the measurements are accurate to less than one inch. Perfectly acceptable for the task at hand.

Industrial construction, such as power plants and refineries, includes very dense and extensive arrangements of piping, conduits, ducting, et al. Scanning such conditions requires speed and accuracy. We generally choose equipment capable of 1 million measurements per second and accuracy of 2-3 millimeters.

Industrial Laser Scanning

Most commercial buildings have many rooms, and this requires many scanning positions to capture all the relevant measurements. But commercial construction tolerances are looser than the industrial. In commercial construction, we most often work to ¼ inch, though we still choose equipment capable of about 1 million measurements per second so we can work efficiently.

Fabrication often requires tolerances of 1/1000 inch, or less. Laser scanners with short ranges of just a few feet can check incoming components and validate the fabrication of products to within 5 microns or less (< 2/10,000 inch). In conjunction with our parent company, Andy J. Egan, 3D Imaging Services uses laser scanning to validate the fabrication of complex components before they are shipped all over the world.

Fabrication Laser Scanning

By choosing the correct equipment for the task at hand, 3D Imaging Services has applied laser scanning technology to problems in historic preservation, electric distribution, transportation, building maintenance, shipping, and many others. Have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business? Give us a call or drop a line

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Lights in the Tunnel, Millions of Them

Mining faces obstacles that other businesses do not. For example, in an underground mine, your GPS and compass do not work. Miners are applying laser scanning technology to overcome some of the special difficulties as well as to reduce costs and improve safety. This month, we’re turning the spotlight on several examples.

Shaft No. 1 goes down 3,400 feet. On the surface, 1,100 feet away, Shaft No. 2 goes deeper, 4,500 feet. How can you dig out a gallery between the two at the 3,000-foot level? With a 2°slope. Laser scanning the two shafts and a tight survey control loop show exactly the direction to dig, and periodic laser scanning of the new gallery keeps the excavation on track to intersect the other shaft and maintain the slope. On one such project the projected intersection point was accurate to within a few hundredths of a foot.

As an underground mine is worked, the volume of the mine increases and so does the volume of air that must be moved through the ventilation systems. How do you measure the volume of such an irregularly shaped space? Laser scanning rapidly (hours not days) measures the volume of the mine. And scanning can do it in total darkness.

Surface mines must maintain specific slope angles as the material is removed. All manner of incidents can alter the slope and jeopardize safety and schedules: torrential rains, detonations of explosives, vibrations of large equipment, natural subsidence to name a few. Long range laser scanning can measure all angles –and movement – in surface mines in just a few hours.

Your geologists, working from the surface, have taken a number of test borings and identified the location of an ore body that is unsuitable for surface mining but within striking distance of your existing underground mine. Within the seven miles of your mine, how do you choose the point to start digging towards the new ore body? By laser scanning the surface and the underground mine and by overlaying the data onto the geologists’ 3D map of the ore body, you can see the shortest route to the ore. Periodic scanning of the new gallery assures the excavation will go in the right direction.

The processing of ore is another expensive and dangerous process. From time to time, the engineers devise better processing methods, and each improvement means downtime to make the changes. At one copper plant, downtime cost $50,000 per hour, or about $1 million per day. Having an accurate model of the plant before starting the re-design saved both design time and downtime. A laser scan and computer model of the plant saved several days of downtime and improved the safety of those making the changes.

Have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business? Visit us at MINExpo Booth #25743 in the South Hall, September 26-28. We'll have live laser scanning demonstrations, so be sure to schedule an appointment.

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