How Do I Get My Factory in 3D?

June 10, 2020

How Do I Get My Factory in 3D?


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As the drive to increase efficiency and reduce rework for factory planning continues to grow many factory owners look to 3D factory design to help. This leads to the question, how do I get my factory into to 3D?

Getting the 3D Data

The first step in getting a 3D factory is gathering the 3D information. Traditionally this was done using manual measurement techniques. More recently this work has been almost entirely replaced by laser scanning. The reason for this shift is two fold; first the cost per square foot has dramatically reduced while the quality of the data has increased by over 10x. These two factors have lead to a dramatic shift in data acquisition since 2010.

Not Apples to Apples

Even though scanning now cost less the data being collected is far superior to that which is collected through manual means. The scanner does not miss or forget dimensions. The scanner also collects information that simply is not reasonable to collect through manual means.

Modeling Options

Although it is possible to model your factory in any application from Catia to AutoCAD you will get the most out of your model by using specialized factory design applications. Currently there are two dominant applications in 3D factory design, Siemens FactoryCAD and Autodesk Factory Design Suite.
Siemens FactoryCAD The first 3D factory tool to hit the market FactoryCAD is a full featured AutoCAD add-on similar
to many other applications such as AutoCAD MEP. FactoryCAD features many pre-made systems covering most assets typically found in factories such  mezzanines and cranes to material handling containers and operators.

Autodesk Factory Design Suite

It is now possible to develop 3D models to any LOD in almost any format. Although some automated tools exist most model geometry is still created using tracing techniques. Cost effective options of generating 3D models typically involve having portions of the model completed by overseas partners.

Beyond Modeling

As teams become more sophisticated laser scan users they’ll start to find new a creative uses for the scan data that don’t always involve modeling. Scan data can be edited to remove objects that will be demolished right within the cloud itself. The scans can also be plotted directly on sheets for use by installers and fabricators.


If you decided to convert your scan data to model data one of the most important decisions you’ll make is what LOD should you’re model be developed to. Within the AEC industry today even LOD has multiple definitions. It can either stand for Level of Detail or Level of Development. These are two distinct things. Level of Detail is purely a CAD modeling visualization decision. Will generic objects be used within the model or will the exact item be modeled? Level of Development, sometimes called Level of Design refers to the models development as it pertains to it use in construction of the building. This has little to do with the visual representation of the objects in the model and has more to do with the data behind the objects. For example if a model is in an LOD500 state it will contain warranty information for each item.

About PMC

PMC is the largest independent industrial engineering & simulation services firm in North America. For over 30 years PMC has been leveraging the latest in advanced technology to improve our Client’s processes. Established in 1979 PMC, has grown to have office around the world. With over 700 clients, 6000 completed projects, and over 150 employees PMC can work with you to find the right data-driven productivity solutions for your needs.


Let our experts show you how our Services can support your projects!


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