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Posted on September 29, 2020

(Navisworks flythrough – point cloud & pipe modeling)

Project Scope:

Retrofit of existing 140,000 square foot facility with a chilled water system, including the installation of:

  • 4 Mitsubishi split systems in kitchen
  • 135 ton chiller with pumps
  • Approx. 1000 L.F. of pipe
  • 40 ton split system with refrigerant piping

The Challenge:

The original drawings were no longer in existence, and the Spaeder team did not have access to accurately measured models, building plans, or pre-existing architectural drawings. Even if they did, the school had undergone a number of renovations and space changes since it was built. Because the job encompassed a massive footprint, accurate measurements and drawings were required for a proper retrofit. This is where 3D scanning technologies and the use of the FARO Focus 3D Scanner helped to expedite the process quickly and efficiently.

How Does 3D Scanning Work?

The FARO Focus 3D Scanner uses a rotating laser which bounces off of surrounding surfaces, collecting data points. These reflected data points are compiled into an extremely accurate three-dimensional image called a “point cloud” which replicates real world conditions. At the moment, Spaeder uses two different scanners, the FARO Focus 3D 350 (primary) and the FARO Focus 3D 120 (secondary). Both of these scanners create near perfect results and are intended for both indoor and outdoor uses. For more information on how 3D scanners work, check out our Podcast Episode on 3D Scanning.

Focus Faro Scanning on job site(VDC Coordinator Zach Bundy (left) and Point Work Coordinator Charles Morgan (right) with the Faro Focus 3D 350)

Iroquois High School Scans:

  • Two Days
  • 87 Scans
  • 8 Distinct Regions: Roof Top, Upper Roof Top, Machine Room, Front of School, Gymnasium, and Multiple Landings
  • Data Points: 1,250,000,000

Rather than sending a team to collect measurements which would be rendered as drawings and models, Point Work Coordinator, Charles Morgan, spent two days scanning the building. After which, the final point cloud was able to be imported into Revit. VDC Coordinator, Zach Bundy, modeled all of the piping using this point cloud for reference. If a team were employed to collect accurate measurements to create drawings, it would have taken about two weeks and these drawings would not have been as thorough or complete.

The Benefits of 3D Scanning:

There is no guesswork with 3D scans because you “know what you’re connecting and drawing to is actually there. You know it’s going to work,” says Charles Morgan. On many occasions, even when architectural drawings are available, they are not always completely accurate or do not depict the subtle shifts and changes a structure undergoes as it is being built as well as the years afterwards. A scan captures all of this. In the case of a retrofit, drawings rarely show changes and renovations to a property.

For example, even perfectly accurate architectural drawings rarely show smaller elements such as struts. The team must content with these elements when creating accurate pipe designs. Seeing these things in the point cloud helps to ensure that the work is completed correctly the first time.

Pipe modeling in point cloud(Pipe modeling in point cloud)

After each construction project, Spaeder creates as-built drawings. Even if the original architectural plans are not available, the new renditions equip facilities with the information needed to confidently plan for future renovations and maintenance work. The point cloud provides access to extremely accurate data for these as-builts.

3D Scanning Services for Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York

The Wm. T. Spaeder Company is headquartered in Erie, PA with offices in Pittsburgh, PA and Buffalo, NY though works with companies across the United States. Spaeder provides 3D scanning services for its own construction projects as well as for other contractors. It also assist non-construction related tasks such as forensic investigations, historic building preservation projects, ship building, aerospace engineering, and much more.

For more information, contact us here or call 814.456.7014 and ask to be directed to our VDC Department.


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