For owners/operators seeking the holy grail digital twin, you must first create the AIM. AIM is the acronym “Asset Information Model”. You might be asking, “Wasn’t the dream of BIM to be that?” Of course BIM, Building Information Modeling, does inherently hold information at any point in its lifecycle. Unfortunately, the source of asset data is often default values or something downloaded from the internet to save time. The challenge is to specify data input and reporting in a meaningful way for AEC without disrupting cost or schedule.
The PMC team has been empowering building stakeholders to advocate for themselves on two digital fronts. The first is managing their AEC supply chains to deliver the quality of 3D data to fit the needs of facilities management. The second empowerment is a path to convert all the other structures in the enterprise that are past the design and construction lifecycles. It’s notable that both of these types of transformation share a common foundation. That foundation is predictable data that is interoperable. Asset data at all stages of the building lifecycle have commonality. The ideal BIM requirements focus on what those common aspects are and also understand what enterprises have unique needs for operating a building. PMC has termed our process to define those requirements as Enterprise Facilities Integration (EFI). Once a guideline for integration is established, owners can begin to see a digital transformation that is interoperable and at a foundation for higher levels of multi-use values.
What is “good data” and why is it important to target how it will be used? Defining the end goals (target usage) is key to understanding the data specifications for asset information models (AIM) at a foundational level. Something to consider is that good data can add a variety of ROI and it doesn’t need to be BIM if you don’t plan on re-engineering.
3D Virtual Tours – Data Integration Example
As a complement to implementing Laser Scanning and Scan to BIM efforts, PMC recently started providing data integrated Matterport as a complement to high-end scanning and Revit modeling. These Matterport virtual tours can allow our clients to have “virtual” visibility of a site throughout the building lifecycle. The spatial data can be integrated with information and linked to other data. I see the same potential for the “Virtual Tour” level of technology in terms of integration. While not as accurate as a point cloud, it can be a useful tool for record information. In the example below the embedded data is serving space planning as you hover over a workstation. It could just as easily be integrated with links to booking software in an agile workspace or equipment data and maintenance information.
Record Revit model – Data Integration Example
The 3D model lifecycle can consider Facilities Management from its early inception. The example below is a project PMC is modeling with TMC Drafting Services for John Deere and has little existing data. One thing that was acquired from the terrestrial scanning was the ability to read the equipment tags/QR codes captured in the scan. These tags could have initially come from a mechanical engineer as a mark for the purpose of scheduling. However, the potential for interoperability in the life of the plant becomes possible because good data establishes relationships and database connectivity. What would it take for a large enterprise to establish one consistent piece of information (Primary key) for all forms of information on any given asset? I truly don’t know, but establishing a standard for BIM to PDF cut sheet names might make nailing a record model a whole lot easier.
Hold PMC to a standard when we commission your data. In fact, hold all your consultants to that same standard. We can help you develop that standard as we are with TMC/John Deere and other clients. My team is acutely aware of the whitewashing of the term digital twin. However, we know the proof is in the data and the potential for interoperability. Don’t even get me started on the perception of the “LOD” levels and how it equates to the usefulness of models in the hands of building owners. That is too often qualified by visual detail and the type of consultant or contractor turning over a model. “LOI” is what really matters for owners. “Level of Information” can be its highest value in the most basic LOD100 model or even the virtual tour example above. In fact for the owner and FM managers who don’t deploy the highest end workstations, having something light and data-rich would serve a higher value.
A great starting place to see where your current BIM data is at on an LOI scale is to open the MEP model and try to export just the equipment to COBIE. How clean does it look? What is COBie? That is a topic for another blog.
The ecosystem of technologies that capture 3D spatial data (Reality Capture) has changed drastically over the last several years. The data reality capture is often use to develop BIM design models or for construction coordination. One of the challenges for Architects, Contractors and ownersseeking the right value is the technology and planning to fit the scope and data use case. Often buildings with little or no existing data need the right type of reality capture defined to fit budget and usage scope. Requesting BIM to FM models or Digital Twin asset modelsin the current technology growth, can effect the capture and usage applications.
Perspectives will always change over time, and that’s especially true in the world of Reality Capture. I’ve been working in this realm now for 20 years and though reality capture is a relatively new term, in the past there wasn’t quite a defined description for this level of service. When I started, the only way to describe this type of work was in terms of a surveyor. As time went on and this laser scanning cat was let out of the bag, I’ve fulfilled roles as a mentioned surveyor, laser scanning tech, 3D Imagery Engineer, CAD drafter, scanning dude, VDC manager and probably and handful of other titles that all basically meant the same thing, and that was applying laser scanning technology to render out drawings CAD.
Now that laser scanning and Reality Capture are validated technologies and workflow methodologies have been refined well past the point of proof of concept, there is an array of options and deliverables that fall under this category. Not all construction projects require head to toe documentation with scanning, which may lead a project manager to consider different Reality Capture offerings. Here are some examples of the other facets of Reality Capture for Digital Transformation…
Project Coordination: Typically, the tool of this trade tends to be Navisworks. Imagine if there’s a baseline understanding of an interior space whether those dimensions have been acquired via laser scanning or tape measure only to be drafted or modeled out in Revit. Once that understanding of space has been acquired and all interior elements and obstacles are virtually visible in CAD, that’s when proposed design can be added, from any trade, fixture or element. That’s when the fun begins, as you’ll quickly be able to determine if the “mocked up design” will work or “clash” with design. It’s easy, you can see it!
Virtual Tours: Sometimes on the front end of a construction project, extensive mapping and understanding of the existing space may be required. However, in post construction the main benefit of a visualization may only be to look around, to confirm what’s been constructed, and to frankly show it off. That’s where Virtual Tours step in. It’s the ability to add somewhat of a Google Streetview to your project, to get people virtually moving within the space, because why not show off what’s been accomplished. It’s easy to use and lite as there’s no data to transfer, it’s web-based!
Static Laser Scanning: A more traditional form of laser scanning where the technology is tripod based and that scanner is moved through the scene to capture, and put laser scanning point cloud data on what’s important to the project and/or model.
Mobile Mapping: Similar to and based out of terrestrial or static scanning; mobile scanning is that same lidar technology on a moving platform. The standard benefit of applying this technology is gaining overall coverage on a project, though incremental accuracy may be the sacrifice, but that’s ok depending on the project need.
Digital Layout: By implementing laser scanning/reality capture, introducing benchmark targets onsite that are similarly located and placed in a Revit model, survey layout information can be utilized while onsite to directly related to and locate elements that exist in the model. By tying into targets and getting surveying equipment utilizing the same coordinate information that’s used in the model, it will enables the ability to “lay-out” or digitally locate elements that exist in the model, that need to be located and placed or built onsite.
Asset Management: Reality Capture and BIM work begins in producing the “As-built” conditions which are ultimately compared against proposed design, and then asset management steps into the process. This focus starts to add back all the pertinent information back into the model in regards to asset information such as in install date, manufacturer, record of an asset being serviced, and whatever other important information that needs to be linked back to that asset. Most standard BIM and Reality Capture efforts have certainly completed the interest of producing and similar 3d rendering models/representations, whereas asset management efforts put all of the necessary information back into that 3d model.
Establishing a consistent coordinate system: In Revit and in onsite: As multiple forms of spatial measurement technologies are introduced to a project site in enable and enhance building, they all need to be utilizing the same coordinate system to maintain an all together project accuracy. Laser scanners, total stations, distance meters, tape measures are all accurate measurement methodologies within their own relative need that they are supporting, but typically not as accurate when they are all used in conjunction together, on one project site. Reality Capture methodologies can help establish a consistent coordinate system that is seen and used in Revit and translated back onsite, where scan targets can be used as benchmarks that contain that same coordinate information that’s in Revit. By using these benchmarks, or creating co-similar Control Lines that are both onsite and in Revit, it make it much easier to “tie into” that same coordinate system that’s being referenced in Revit, despite whatever measurement tool your using everybody ties in the same way, using the same coordinates.
Scan-To-BIM Digital Transformation: When the scanning stops, that’ when the building begins so to speak. Whether the scanning is static or mobile, once it is brought into any number of 3D programs and the “points are turned into pipes” I always like to say; or wall, windows, doors or any other 3D elements, that’s when the rendered 3D model is produced from the point cloud, or hence the laser scanning data to a BIM deliverable.
Peter Abraham joined the team at PMC as of November 2020, bringing with him 20 years of focused experience in Reality Capture services in the AEC market, that range from data capture expertise and Virtual Design and Construction management.
Well, What is it? Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is a form of measuring with a tripod-based LIDAR (light detection and ranging) instrument used to capture high accuracy data of buildings and other objects.
What is it used for?
TLS is used for a large variety of different applications, including capturing the flatness of a wall, preserve the conditions of a crime scene or accident, document the faꞔade of a large building for pre-fab architectural paneling, analyzing the shape of a vessel, volumetric stockpile surveys and many more.
Leica Scanner at a Bridge
How does it work?
Terrestrial Laser Scanners works by emitting an invisible laser to measure 3D points the same as a survey total station would. The difference is the scanner’s ability to measure its entire scene and the speed at which the measurements are taken.
The laser field of view is 310 degrees vertically and 360 degrees horizontally. The laser scanner will rotate upon the tripod and spin the mirror at the same time to capture the full scene. Each scan takes about 3-7 minutes, depending on the resolution.
What Does a Terrestrial Laser Scanner measure?
Terrestrial Laser Scanners measure everything in the line-of-sight of the laser. The smallest details like the texture of brick, the leaves on trees, and the metalwork of ornate hand-railings are picked up in the scans.
Scan of a museum
What is the accuracy of the Terrestrial laser scanner? Is it any better than a pro-3D camera?
Absolutely, terrestrial laser scanners can measure points as accurate as 3mm at 30 feet. A standard pro-3D camera cannot achieve less than an inch of accuracy. The resulting “point clouds” from the scanner are extremely high-resolution with points in spaced very close together, so close that the result of a scan looks just like a photograph.
The higher the resolution the slower the scanner will rotate making the resulting point cloud more detailed. The faster the scanner rotates the less time the laser has to document to small changes creating a lighter point cloud.
The Resolution of the scanner does not always directly affect the resolution of the “project point cloud”. For example, scanning a single wall with a handful of low resolution scans the resulting point cloud will be a higher resolution because of the number of points that accumulate from more than one low res scan.
Grey-scale Factory Scan
Color or Black and White?
Depending on the need or conditions of the project, laser scanning can be conducted in absolutely no light. This makes it possible to measure and see things in places of absolute darkness. When scanning in dark conditions, the scanner is unable to pick up color unless artificial light is added, but the resulting point cloud imagery looks almost like night vision. Everything that was once very dark will be brightly visible in the 3D imaginary.
What are the benefits of using terrestrial laser scanning?
Benefits in Architecture
Capture the “as-is” conditions of a building quickly, accurately, and with little to no disruption. Photorealistic imaging and 3D visualization of different aspects of buildings to create views never seen before. 3D data can be used in all common CAD programs. FARO WebShare Cloud for sharing the scan data via the internet simple, secure, and can be used anywhere online. The resulting point clouds can be precisely modeled in Autodesk Revit.
3D modeling and laser scanning of a historic fountain
Benefits in Construction
Laser Scanning in construction can offer fast and cost-effective documentation of the entire construction process. Seamless capture and monitoring is critical for construction progress for legal and technical documentation, precise dimensional check of complex components such as free-form shape elements, documentation of deformation processes and monitoring of countermeasures., project coordination to help improved multi-trade project collaboration. Capturing scans at all phases of construction can aid in the case of final building inspections by being able to go back and visualize the entire construction process start to finish.
Structural Steel Clash Detection
Benefits in Property Management & Facility Maintenance
Building information models (BIM) is taken another step further here at PMC. We interject valuable asset information right into the living model. This way your facility can be on the cutting edge of maintenance and efficiency by utilizing autonomous features right through the model.
With the rapid changes during this time of COVID-19, it is a priority to ensure the health and safety of our customers, employees, partners, and communities. We are working diligently to reduce the risk for our team as well as yours. While PMC has physically closed our offices during this time our workforce is equipped with laptops, VPN access and conferencing tools to be able to seamlessly work remotely. We are committed to working toward planned deadlines and providing you support and services using various online collaboration tools and technology. Leadership and the management team here at PMC are continuously monitoring developments surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to communicate with our customers, clients, and partners to ensure we keep you informed in a time like this. PMC greatly appreciated our customers’ patience as we manage through these challenging times.
A Special Note to our Industrial Customers
In this challenging time having a reliable digital twin is one of the best ways of continuing your important plant design work while minimizing or eliminating the need for your engineers to enter the plant. The best and fastest way to get a reliable digital twin is the use of laser scanning. With manufacturing a critical business in most locations PMC is prepared to capture data safely in your facility.
PMC COVID Response
PMC staying safe on the front lines
When PMC comes to your facility, we will be taking several new, and recommitting to existing, precautions.
Providing complete PPE for our staff including hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, disinfection spray, and even Tyvek suites as required.
Restricting field crews to 2 people who will not interact with other PMC staff.
For higher-risk environments, our employees will begin weekly COVID testing as tests become available.
PMC has implemented new policies per CDC guidelines to help protect our employees who must be on site.
We have added disease prevention training to our mandatory training curriculum.
Our field technicians play a critical role. While their mission is to keep the data capture process moving, we recognize that there is a balance between providing service and keeping our technicians safe. To accomplish that balance we are providing them with new policies and procedures including social distancing, so both customers and field technicians feel safe working together. PMC has implemented disinfecting and temperature checks across all our operations.
PMC can achieve safe and effective work operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. To our family to yours, we hope all stay safe and healthy. For more information or questions regarding how PMC can help continue your project in architectural, construction, and engineering reach out to us by phone (313) 441-4460, email, Linked-in, Twitter.
Production Modeling Corporation (PMC) collaborated with a leading global material handling system supplier to perform maintenance on a section of conveyor that carries painted vehicle bodies at a major Automotive OEM assembly plant. The conveyor carries the body to the area and through a series of rails, opens the carrier and lowers the body. The conveyor rails must be replaced to maintain proper operation. No drawings of the compound curved rail sections where available. Additionally, the rails were custom to the carrier and vehicle design.
Laser Scanning could be used to replace manual field checking procedures. Typically this project would consist of multiple engineers traveling to the remote location and performing measurements using basic tools like tape measures and plumb bobs. These measurements would be documented in 2D in four days. When the measurements were complete, the information would be used to generate drawings to build and install the new rails. Very frequently, these steps may require multiple trips to the location to capture missed measurements which are required to generate the CAD Model. This is a time consuming and error prone process.
This project was performed by PMC using laser scanning techniques to capture the measurements of the equipment that needed to be replaced. PMC provided the laser scanning services that gave the material handling system supplier a 3-Dimensional Point Cloud. The data was captured in 4 hours and was delivered to the OEM client within 4 days. The days between capture and data delivery to the client involved scanning, registration, and translation processes to Autodesk Factory Design Suite software.
The overall project consisted of the following components:
Capture an existing section of conveyor line with laser scanning