Is a laser scan right for your next project? Before you jump in with this revolutionary technology, ask yourself these five critical questions:
#1: How will you use the data? This is always the first question we ask our clients. Talk it over with your provider and/or specifically state how you plan to use the data in the RFP.
#2: What software and version will you use? A point cloud processed in 2014 will not work well with 2012 software. More importantly, your CAD production may be only 20% of the potential.
#3: What exactly are your deliverables? Be specific when talking with your provider about what your expected deliverables are, whether registered point cloud 3D photography, color point cloud, black & white, a CAD-ready model, or a video fly-through of the site.
#4: What is your expected level of capture detail (expressed in inches)? For example, do you need to capture everything 2-inches or larger or 1-inch and larger? The difference in these two can be 4x the work effort! Give this a lot of thought and discussion.
#5: What coordinate system do you want to use? This can be very important, as you may have existing plans or CAD files. If the point cloud and plans are on the same system, they will align perfectly. This is also true with project elevations.
Once you have decided laser scanning is right for your project, the next step is getting buy-in from everyone in the company who will use this data. Don’t overlook this step because buy-in is key to your early success!
Be aware: there is a learning curve to using laser scans and point cloud data, but studies have shown that companies that make the transition from the old technology (two guys and a measuring tape and grid pad) to high speed data capture with precision and clarity are ultimately much more efficient.
To realize the full benefits, you will need a “champion” in upper management and a good CAD technician who genuinely loves the technology.
Plan a training budget and send your team to SPAR or similar 3D conferences. It will foster buy-in, change your workflow and increase your productivity (and profit) in the long run.
Tate Jones has over 40 years of experience in land and aerial surveying and was one of the country’s earliest adopters of 3D laser scanning technology. A nationally recognized expert in the field of 3D data capture, he has worked with hundreds of clients in the engineering, architectural and construction industries. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.landairsurveying.com.