Integrating 3D Laser Scanning Services in the Construction Industry

Study Examines the use of the Technology

In 2011, business analysis company Strategy& (PwC subsidiary) constructed an extensive index survey – the aim of which claimed “a better understanding of the relative degree to which digitization transforms various industries.”

This Industry Digitization Index, helmed by Dr. Florian Gröne, described the four factors involved in the digitization effort as: “input, processing, output, and underlying infrastructure”; [each of which would be enhanced by 3D laser scanning services]. 

Within its findings comes a clear call of attention toward digital processing, which the study defines as: “The degree to which [digital] processes are integrated, both internally and with external partners. [Electronic data interchange] including the electronic transmission of data, as well as activities like supply chain management . . .”

According to the survey, industries primed to integrate digitization quickly reaped the greater financial benefit. With regards to those who were not:

“Down at the bottom of the list, on the other hand, are the labor-intensive, old-economy sectors.” 

“The position of each of these can be explained by the relative simplicity of their value chains; the high degree of hands-on, on-site, “personal touch” interaction required by the way they do business; the often lower affinity for digital technology among their labor pools . . .” 

Arguably the most important takeaway of the study is its heavy bias toward digitization concepts [such as 3D scanning services]: 

“Too many companies in every industry fail to understand the direction that digitization will be taking in the future. So they overspend on infrastructure and underspend on intelligent process automation and better digital output mechanisms.”

“These results suggest that as digitization progresses, a profound shift of importance, and ultimately value, will occur among these industries.” “[They also] suggest that digitization offers the potential for these sectors to make great strides in pushing efficiency and customer convenience.”

How are 3D laser scanning services affecting the landscape?

Digitization as a process may provide a few challenges in the nascent stages of implementation. Unlike other means of production, it can be a particularly foreign experience for a surveyor, for instance, who is more used to working with manned hardware. If one such surveyor were not accustomed to using a 3D laser scan on-site, they would immediately be met with disparate knowledge and software literacy.  Learning curves aside, the interaction between management and personnel would need to be overhauled entirely (and, in some cases, eliminated altogether). 

These concerns are valid reasons why the aforementioned “old-economy sectors” have not entirely made the transition. In return for the investment, however, the reward brings great potential.    

Having accurate point clouds, models, and imagery produced by 3D scanning services can reduce the need for others to visit a worksite. This saves time and transportation costs and reduces the carbon footprint of the former demand for vehicles. 

In addition, these services improve productivity amongst those team members whose work has not been replaced. One of the biggest time sinks that slows a project is having to go back and address mistakes that only become apparent towards the perceived end stages of development. The more readily available captured data is to reference and reproduce, the less likely each of the project’s team members will neglect a detailed check throughout every level of construction. 

As mentioned before, another huge cost for development relates to the tangential expenses of human help.  To minimize the number of people on site is an obvious advantage as it lowers financial and legal risks to the company (related to safety and health practices). Fewer bodies on-site directly translates to fewer people who need inclusion on insurance policies and easier management of social distancing and pandemic-cleaning protocols. 

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