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Bravo, Nashville

By Vaughn J. Mantor

Nashville, Tennessee is booming. Growth and opportunity bring more people to town, about 100 per day, and the city needs more classrooms. Just one school is undergoing an $88 million renovation and addition.

The pressures of such growth have given contractors an unusual opportunity, and many have taken it. Many contractors are declining to bid on projects unless accurate, as-built documents are available beforehand. As one might expect of a city founded in 1779, school buildings are often old and without accurate, measured drawings. Here’s an example from one of the school’s archive:

How did this come to pass? How did contractors come to this level of influence?

Without an accurate set of drawings, contractors must adjust their bids to protect against uncertainty. They may plan to buy more material; they may take their own measurements, at their own expense; they may plan for a longer time on site; they may plan for more RFIs*; they may plan for more unproductive time. All these considerations, among others, increase the cost to the contractors and the price to their customers.

In Nashville, the boom has filled the schedules of many contractors. So which would you choose? A project fraught with uncertainties and potential problems and losses? Or one with a guaranteed set of measured, accurate drawings of the building undergoing remodeling? Compare the image above with this one from the laser scanning data, annotated with construction specifications.

Many contractors are making the obvious choice, and projects without accurate drawings go wanting.

Capital Project Solutions of Nashville (CPS) understood the value of laser scanning for the Head Start schools that were scheduled for improvements because the technology would help METRO Nashville’s** ability to write and bid out accurate scopes of work. CPS was excited to use DWP Live and Verify 3D to provide laser scanning services and to create the laser-accurate drawings. According to Michael Martin, Project Manager for Capital Project Solutions, “On the MAC Head Start projects, the [CAD] file deliverables were an essential tool in bridging the gap between managing older facility assets without accurate information and being able to create biddable scopes of work with enough accuracy to attract quality bidders.” See the end of this article for a list of the data that Verify 3D delivered.

In Nashville, to date, we have scanned four schools:

North Head Start

Tom Joy Head Start

Berry Head Start

Richland Head Start

Contractors were not the only ones to benefit from the scanning. Everybody did. And these results are common in our experience.

  • Architectural design goes faster with an accurate CAD model as the starting point. This is especially important when the building in question has historic qualities.
  • Engineering design benefits in the same way. Maybe more so. For example, the engineering of ventilation and air conditioning is particularly sensitive to twists or turns in the ductwork.
  • The accurate drawings will attract high-quality contractors submitting accurate bids. The better contractors have learned how to make the most of available information. (And we will address this important point in another article.)
  • Fewer RFIs will make life easier for the general contractor, among others. On a typical project of $5,000,000, RFIs cost $100,000. The laser scanning data reduces both the number of valid RFIs and the number of those filed unscrupulously. For the school mentioned in the first paragraph above, that’s a likely additional cost of $1,780,000 sans laser scanning and modeling.
  • The shortened schedule means the cost of construction to the city is reduced.
  • Disruption to the students and the schools’ schedules will be minimized. Bidding specifications demand construction schedules fit into the schools’ schedules.
  • The schools will have a current and accurate set of drawings for asset management, which will enable better maintenance of the facilities.
  • And, ultimately, the lower cost saves the taxpayers’ money.

Nashville’s experience with 3-dimensional laser scanning illustrates a characteristic of technology in general. From time to time, a technological innovation radically changes an entire industry. We believe laser scanning and modeling benefit every project as long as the technology is properly applied.

If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call (406-780-0798) or click “here

If you’d like to speak with one of our clients about our work, please click “here

Because our experience in this technology dates back to 2002, Verify 3D knows the most appropriate equipment to use on each project and how to use it for the best benefit to our clients. For this project we used a Leica laser scanner, a P-30, and Leica Cyclone software for registration. Per contract, Verify 3D delivered ReCap point clouds, TruViews, and a 3D Revit model, 2D floor plans, reflected ceiling plans, and external elevations. Most of the delivered 3D model was created at Level of Development (LOD) 200.

*RFI – Request For Information. A formal process for resolving construction conflicts and uncertainties.

**Metro Nashville – Metro Nashville General Services.

This is Here, That’s Over There

October 30, 2018 | Vaughn J. Mantor

It’s not easy to build a bridge more than 2,000 feet long and 160 feet above the water, which is full of ocean-going ships. And it’s especially difficult to build it in earthquake country amid feuding politicians. The engineers and constructors had to bring their best game to this problem. So a part of the plan included manufacturing the massive trusses elsewhere (more than 850 miles away) and shipping them and lifting them into place instead of trying to construct each truss piece by piece on the bridge.

You see the obvious problem: if a truss is not built precisely according to specification, it won’t fit, and a big problem results when the constructors try to put it in place. In addition, engineering specifications require that the cross members of the truss meet the longitudinal pieces at precise angles. The solution: laser scanning the truss at the point of manufacture and verify all the dimensions and angles before shipment.

The technicians at Verify 3D have repeatedly solved this common problem: one part (This)of a massive construction is built at one location and must be combined with another part (That) built at another location. And the This and the That are complicated and really big. Solving the problem, i.e. verifying the constructions with laser scanning, inevitably results in big savings for the project.

Some examples from our experience:

1. A new ship was being built in the North East part of the country, and the deckhouse had been built far away. The older method of fitting the two together called for multiple test fits using a $100,000-per-day crane to hold the deckhouse a couple of feet above the deck so that workers could crawl between the two and take manual measurements, looking for discrepancies. Instead, laser scanning of the deck and deck house revealed a number of mismatches. Corrections were made before the lift and the deckhouse was attached in one day without a hiccup.

2. Three steel superstructures (30’x30’x40’ each) were built in South Florida. Installation was at a 1500 foot pier along the lower Mississippi River. The special footings of the superstructures had to match the pier’s connectors to within 1/8”, and, once installed, the tops of the structures must be dead level. By using laser scanning to identify discrepancies before the superstructures left South Florida, and by using sophisticated laser scanning techniques to level the structures, the savings to the owners were more than $300,000.

3. Sometimes laser scanning can reveal solutions that do not require re-working components. Two concrete digester tanks and their lids were built on the site of a waste treatment plant. The lids must rest on corbels projecting from the walls of the tanks. As we all know, concrete is notorious for warping as it cures. Before using a very expensive crane to lift the lids in place, the builders decided to laser scan the tanks and the lids. Discrepancies in the walls of the tanks showed up clearly; they were asymmetric. Laser scanning showed the builders how to make slight changes in the steel lids, and, most important, scanning showed the builders how to align the lids to the tanks so they would fit in the first try.

3. Sometimes laser scanning can reveal solutions that do not require re-working components. Two concrete digester tanks and their lids were built on the site of a waste treatment plant. The lids must rest on corbels projecting from the walls of the tanks. As we all know, concrete is notorious for warping as it cures. Before using a very expensive crane to lift the lids in place, the builders decided to laser scan the tanks and the lids. Discrepancies in the walls of the tanks showed up clearly; they were asymmetric. Laser scanning showed the builders how to make slight changes in the steel lids, and, most important, scanning showed the builders how to align the lids to the tanks so they would fit in the first try.

A senior project manager for one of the nation’s largest engineering firms called this technology one of the best insurance policies he had ever seen. Even if scanning shows the widely separated components match, scanning will show additional valuable information that is otherwise not available. Invariably, scanning such components at the right time benefits the project’s schedule and cost.

If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call (406-780-0798) or click “here”

If you’d like to speak with one of our clients about our work, please click “here”

Because our experience in this technology dates back to 2002, Verify 3D knows the most appropriate equipment to use on each project and how to use it for the best benefit to our clients.

For this report, because of confidentiality and copyright restrictions, the images included are not of the sites on which we worked, but the images are very similar to the actual circumstances.

Lasers, Salmon, Trout, & Engineering

August 21, 2018 | Vaughn J. Mantor

  In Montana, along the Missouri river where Lewis & Clark followed Thomas Jefferson’s instructions to cross the continent, a fish hatchery wants to expand for several reasons: the existing water intakes for the hatchery are increasingly unreliable; and the demand for certain species of fish is much higher.

Expansion of the hatchery will require more water.

Fortunately, a hydroelectric dam of 185 Megawatts is about two miles away. The water to be piped to the hatchery must meet certain specifications, among which is cleanliness, therefore the water will be taken from the dam’s penstocks, that is at a point before the water goes to the turbines.

The situation calls for an engineering feasibility study to assess the various, inter-related, cost factors:

  • high cost of losing all the fish should the water supply fail
  • size of the expansion
  • volume of water needed
  • cost of construction at the hatchery
  • cost of water
  • cost of connections and construction at the dam
  • cost of piping
  • cost of installing the piping
  • cost of a right-of-way, et al.

Our client, the engineering firm employed to assess feasibility, decided to use Verify 3D to take laser scans of the hatchery and the dam.

A modern fish hatchery is not a simple thing….

Neither is a Hydroelectric Dam

At the hatchery, small differences in the conditions in which the fish hatch can kill them all. Many variables must be measured and adjusted continually. It’s a complicated job to increase the capacity of the hatchery and also avoid unduly interfering with normal production. A glance at the above hatchery images shows the potential for serious cost overruns if any measurements are wrong or missing. When one includes the complexity of the hydroelectric dam and making connections there, the difficulty of the feasibility study is nearly doubled.

According to the professional engineer in charge of the work, “[laser scanning with Verify 3D] saved us three weeks on the project.” He was referring to cutting three weeks from the project plan. The plan anticipated a long time to collect measurements by other means and several return visits to the site. It took Verify 3D just one day to collect complete measurements, accurate to 3-4mm, in both the hatchery and the dam. It’s too soon to evaluate other savings that may be achieved by the use of laser scanning on this project. When more results are in, we’ll post an addendum to this report.

If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call (406-780-0798) or click “here

If you’d like to speak with one of our clients about our work, please click “here

Because we have fifteen years experience in the technology, Verify 3D knows the most appropriate equipment to use on each project and how to use it for the best benefit to our clients. For this project we used a Leica P-20 laser scanner and Leica Cyclone software for registration. Per contract, Verify 3D delivered both a point cloud, in Autodesk Recap format, and a set of TruView files to our client.

Code Cost

August 1, 2018 | Vaughn J. Mantor

Buildings get old, they’re bought and sold, and from time to time remodeled for a new purpose. Any change to the building, if large enough, will trigger an avalanche of other changes to bring the structure up to the current, local, building codes.

Electric service, GFCI , fire suppression, R-value of insulation, lighting, water lines, sewerage, parking, structural requirements, HVAC, and ADA rules are among a long list of code requirements. And the list is much longer in certain places such as California.

Sometimes, the additional expense scuttles the project. A church in Michigan wanted to remodel a large, old US Post Office building into a home for indigents. The cost of bringing the building up to current code sunk the project.

Under the worst circumstances, a failure to meet code is not discovered until late in the project. The cost of such a delay is large and obvious.

Recently, Verify 3D participated in a project for which coming up to code brought some special complexities. Fraternities on college campuses have been around since 1776. Some of the buildings they inhabit are not quite that old, but many ante-date modern building codes.

The project was also constrained by special conditions and circumstances. The buildings are in continuous use year round, and only intermittently available for inspections or measurement. The buildings have lots of small rooms and closets. The buildings include a large kitchen for events.

Maintenance and code upgrades had been lacking for some time. And of course, saving money was paramount for the penurious fraternity.

So how does laser scanning ameliorate Code Cost?

First, scanning can reveal some below-code components that were missed during visual inspections. The laser’s eye sees everything. For example, MEP or HVAC components partially hidden or obscured by low ambient light.

Second, one trip, one complete set of measurements. Did you forget to measure the height of the mirrors or the height of the paper dispensers in public restrooms to make sure they meet ADA requirements? Does the size of a kitchen affect which local code applies? The answers are a few mouse clicks away, not miles away.

Third, the cost of estimating. With complete measurements and images of the structures, it’s much easier for both architects and engineers to estimate the cost of adhering to code. And everyone is working from the same set of accurate measurements; this alone reduces confusion, clerical work, and mistakes.

Fourth, some legal jurisdictions accept point clouds and CAD models as official documents.

While laser scanning cannot eliminate Code Cost, it can reduce the extra expense involved in such circumstances, and maybe save the project.

If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call or click “here

Because we have over fifteen years experience in the technology, we know the most appropriate equipment to use on each project. For this project we used: a Leica P-40 laser scanner and Leica Cyclone software for registration. We converted the data to Recap format and delivered that to the architect to use in Revit per contract.

Lasers, Hammers, and Money

April 19, 2018 | Vaughn J. Mantor


     The cost of construction, per square foot, was flat for most of the last half-century. Meaning, construction productivity did not benefit much from fifty years of astonishing advances in computing and technology. That is, the amounts of labor, services, and goods that were employed to build a building in 1960 were much the same in 2000. (adjusted for inflation)  

Elsewhere, the changes in productivity have been so powerful that not using appropriate technology is business suicide. Imagine running a grocery store without checkout scanners.

The advent of precision measurement with 3D laser scanning technology is changing many aspects of construction for the better.

Consider:

Most of the time, whenever an architect begins the design of a substantial change to a building, he or she is working from inaccurate measurements.

Worse, previous changes are not adequately documented so the architect may go through several revisions of the design because adequate as-built information was not available.  And the responsibility is pushed out to others. “Contractor is responsible for verifying accurate measurements,” is a very common phrase in RFPs and RFQs.

Most of the time, engineers go through the same problems as the architects, and in addition, the as-built information they’re looking for is hidden above drop ceilings, in crawl spaces, and in other cubbyholes and obscure places.

Most of the time, the general and sub contractors discover the anomalies and contradictions in the design and engineering while they’re building. This causes all sorts of delays and expense.

All these difficulties come from one source: inadequate and inaccurate as-built information. Why? No one has the time or money to take complete measurements – by manual methods – beforehand, of any structure. And the cost to turn manual measurements into an adequate CAD model or set of paper drawings is exorbitant.

However, laser scanning captures nearly 180 million measurements in just three minutes, and every measurement is 3-dimensional, with X, Y, and Z coordinates, accurate to less than 1/4 inch. Injecting such information into construction projects changes project timelines and budgets for the better, when used properly.

We’ll expound on the many uses, advantages, and applications of this technology in upcoming posts. If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call or click here.

Scanning The Lake House

April 6, 2018 | Vaughn J. Mantor

Architect’s first use of laser scanning saves time, money, and prestige.

For this first post, we’re looking at a common decision faced by architects. How does the architect know what to charge for certain tasks? Here’s a specific example.

A professional athlete asked an architect to design some modifications, expansions, and upgrades to his elegant home on a northern lake. Accurate drawings were not available. What does the architect charge for creation of the as-built drawings?

“Transparent” view of laser image.

At first, the architect planned on using 2D CAD drawings in AutoCAD format. He thought he would drive out to the house, which is a three to five hour drive, one way, depending on weather, and take the relevant measurements himself. He planned to return to his office and create the drawings. Based on his situation, he thought he would charge $3,500.

Second thoughts crept up on him. The house has a crawl space only three feet high. Tough to get measurements there. What if he mis-measures? What if he needs additional measurements? And, very important, can he complete the measurements and initial drawings plus complete the new design before the upcoming meeting with the athlete? It’s winter; driving could be a problem. Could his time be better used?

Verify 3D solved his problems, saved the architect’s time for better uses, and gave him peace of mind that any design he might do would be based on completely accurate drawings. Verify 3D created the required 2D CAD drawings, and in addition supplied a full Revit model (that’s the image above), and the point clouds.

As you can see, the crawl space is a cramped space for making measurements. We easily took millions of measurements here.

Scanning in confined areas.
Image of the full point cloud.

Although we charged more than the architect originally estimated, the overall savings in time and money, the better allocation of resources, the adherence to project schedules, and the satisfaction of his client made the additional cost insignificant.

We’ll expound on the many uses, advantages, and applications of this technology in upcoming posts. If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call at (406) 780-0798 or click “here.”

Grandeur Renewed

March 26, 2019 | Vaughn J. Mantor

Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Herbert Hoover all traveled to the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, as did a passel of celebrities, since the hotel opened in 1893. Built by a silver magnate and designed to mimic the principle mansion of the Medicis, the property overflows with 19th century opulence.

So why use laser scanning on such a property?

The new owner must deal with some complex issues. How can the hotel improve the services, features, and amenities of the property without marring its 19th century style or affecting its status on the registry of historic places? The owner needed an architecture and design firm that specializes in such properties. Johnson Nathan Strohe (JNS) of Denver accepted the challenge, and the Hotel Colorado chose Verify 3D to laser scan the hotel and build a Revit model. To save money.

Laser scan viewer (TruView Cloud) showing a portion of the lobby of the hotel. The yellow pyramid shows the location of another point cloud scan. This tool allows measurement, markup, and 3D visualization of the project from any common device.  This reduces site visits.

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It’s a much faster trip from the home of the design team in Denver to the Hotel Colorado than it was in Teddy Roosevelt’s day. Nevertheless, any uncertainties in length, area, volume, or in design or décor, in any room, forces a day-long trip for the architects, et al., and the trip is possible only if the room is currently unoccupied. The same logic applies to all engineering questions about the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, or HVAC conditions. When one considers the out-of-pocket costs and the wasted travel time, it takes only a few such trips to exceed the cost of laser scanning. The scanning data and CAD model answer almost all such questions in a moment or two with a few clicks and drags.

Another money saver: For such a project, the designers and architects need an accurate as-built on which to draw their new designs. In this project, they must also pay close attention to the historic nature of the hotel and even the existing furnishings. The Revit model supplied by Verify 3D, combined with the point cloud, meets this need. Did you know you can bring the point cloud into Revit to see all the details of architecture and décor overlaid with the Revit model?  Such flexibility reduces the number of design iterations. This feature does the same for the engineering work. For example, the image below of the exterior shows the point cloud and model together.

 Point cloud overlay with Revit as-built model.

Another money saver: Construction on the Hotel Colorado broke ground in 1891, and a lot has changed since then. Over the years many improvements have been made; this latest upgrade is not an exception. The laser scanning makes all such changes faster and less expensive. Accurate information from the laser scan and model help the architects and engineers resolve the conflicts between competing needs more quickly.

When historic buildings are modified, the owners must follow special rules to document the changes. The use of laser scanning makes adhering to these additional requirements much easier and less expensive.

When the accounting is complete, the owners will have saved from three to ten times the cost of laser scanning and modeling. We have found this ratio to be consistent over the 17 years we’ve been working in this technology.

No scanning project would be complete without at least one peculiarity. The Hotel Colorado was no exception. Built for the wealthy and the notables of the day, at a time when domestic servants were common, the hotel’s design makes each room unique. You can stay in the Roosevelt Suite or the Molly Brown (the “unsinkable” lady who survived the Titanic) Suite among others. A long way from the dull uniformity of modern hotels. The uniqueness of each room required Verify 3D to scan nearly every room and bathroom. Only two rooms out of 130 were not scanned when the hotel was experiencing high occupancy.

If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call (406-780-0798) or click “here

If you’d like to speak with one of our clients about our work, please click “here

Because our experience in this technology dates back to 2002, Verify 3D knows the most appropriate equipment to use on each project and how to use it for the best benefit to our clients. For this project we used a Leica P-30 and Leica Cyclone software for registration. Per contract, Verify 3D delivered ReCap point clouds, TruViews, and a 3D Revit model. Most of the delivered model was created at Level of Development (LOD) 200.