December 12, 2023

Transforming Construction Workflows with Portable Laser Scanners

If you're working in the construction industry today, being efficient with time and cost is crucial. That's why the advent of handheld laser scanners like the ExynPak has been such a significant development for construction survey teams. These portable tools have made it possible to quickly generate 3D models of construction sites using SLAM algorithms and other advanced multi-sensor fusion technologies. In this blog post, we'll look at how these scanners are being used for scan to BIM modeling, and why more and more construction professionals are turning to this technology.

In cases where original blueprints are outdated or unavailable, scan to BIM modeling can create highly accurate 3D models that capture all the details of the building's existing structure. This not only saves construction professionals significant time and resources but reduces the risk of errors during the renovation and retrofitting process.

ExynPak_Tablet_constructionThe ExynPak, a portable LiDAR-based SLAM mapping system

While the technology might sound complicated, its use in the field is fairly straightforward. Portable laser scanners, like the ExynPak, use advanced LiDAR sensors and IMUs to capture highly detailed and accurate 3D models of construction sites by simply moving through the space. Unlike traditional surveying methods, which can be time-consuming, disruptive, and require highly skilled personnel, a portable laser scanner is easy to use in a moment's notice.

A scan to BIM workflow generally starts with scanning an area of interest with a portable laser scanner. This captures a detailed 3D point cloud with hundreds of millions of data points and even colorizes the data in real-time through two fish eye lenses. But since these scans are captured entirely on the device, the accuracy of the scan is high locally – relative to itself – but not globally – relative to a real-world map. To ensure the most accurate model possible the next step in our workflow will be to post process this colorized point cloud data into a file we can ingest into our BIM modeling and tracking software.

under-bridge-colorized1A colorized point cloud underneath a highway captured by the ExynPak

Due to their large file size, many point cloud files are often processed in the cloud or on another 3rd part service. But when using the ExynPak, files are processed on site via a ruggedized tablet using Exyn software. They can be downsampled for ease of sharing, or even smoothed and georeferenced with an existing coordinate frame for global accuracy. Once properly post-processed, surveyors can quickly export the point cloud to convert to a BIM file. 

Many robust BIM tools available can ingest this point cloud data and perform automated feature extraction to detect objects such as windows and doors to more easily create a starting BIM project. Once this initial BIM is created, engineers and planners can start adding architectural details, MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) components, and ensuring the model accurately represents the physical space they're designing.

Now with this initial BIM built, surveyors can quickly capture new scans to update the BIM as the project gets started. From there architects and project managers can continuously collaborate throughout the lifetime of the project with confidence about the accuracy and timeliness of their 3D model. And with the ease of use that comes with using a portable laser scanner like the ExynPak, new scans can be captured and uploaded daily to ensure any mistakes are spotted quickly to avoid any costly rework. This is also a big aid for prefabricated construction where materials are manufactured off-site and then shipped to the location, this requires a high level of accuracy to achieve. 

And the end of the day, the main benefit of incorporating a portable laser scanner into your construction workflow is transparency. Faster, more accurate mapping means whole teams can track progress, run quality control checks, ensure client satisfaction, and reduce unnecessary waste. Plus an easier-to-use mapping tool ensures less mistakes, less employee turnover, reduced chance of an accident or injury, and pushes your company to the forefront of autonomous robotics.

Exyn-Trimble-Spot-X7-construction-smallSpot from Boston Dynamics equipped with the ExynPak and Trimble X7, a proof of concept
for autonomous exploration and mapping of construction sites

If you're working in construction and not already using a portable laser scanner to quickly and accurately map your ongoing projects, you're already a step behind. Get in touch with a representative from Exyn Technologies to learn more about portable laser scanners like the ExynPak and see a product demonstration for yourself.

Tag(s): exynAI , Construction , BIM , SLAM , ExynPak

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