With 3D Scanning Technology, Virtually Error-Free Construction May Be On The Horizon

The most meticulous construction plans can easily go amiss when there’s an issue that was simply easy to overlook. It’s not unusual for careful calculations and designs to fall apart when building actually begins, and the result is a lot of extra time and cost in compensating for the discrepancies.

From knowing how many construction control bolts to order to ultimately complete a total structure, to ensuring a prefabricated part will properly fit the actual application, these are the details that can determine whether a job stays on schedule and under budget or spirals into a mess. The extra steps required to verify job particulars have real value, but only if they measure up when the work starts and ends.

The construction industry has started to adopt a lot of different technology to foster more efficient and precise results. Aerial survey drones, 3D printed building elements, and robots that can haul, assemble, and install components wherever they need to be, have all gone from theoretical technology to tools that are put to practice every day.

There are even companies that now provide specialized 3D scanning services to gain an exact picture of a job site, enabling construction that can be completed to exact, real-life specifications. North Carolina-based sustainable HVAC, mechanical, energy conservation firm, Brady Industries, now offers a unique job site scanning service using special 3D lasers. The scan creates a detailed, virtual picture of the installation site, which allows for highly accurate planning of a specific job and near-perfect fabrication of all elements.

The information obtained through the scan eliminates common errors that can occur using conventional surveying methods. By rendering the job site in digital layers to create a 3D AutoCAD MEP model, various parts, equipment, and components of the job can be laid out in a manner that carefully complies with the real factors of the installation setting. This type of virtual environment allows for trial-and-error on screen, rather than on site where errors are far costlier.

Because the planning and subsequent fabrications can be coordinated at such a precision level, clients get a better picture of the end result before the job begins. The actual job can also be completed in less time, thanks to more careful and accurate preparation.

Brady Industries’ mechanical engineering team leader, Stephen Poe also said in a recent Constructive Dive article that labor costs have been cut by as much as a quarter thanks the technology, and such a reduction is just part of the overall benefits, “We’ve had less errors, we haven’t cut welds and we had more satisfied customers that are giving us return work.”

Currently, this type of construction technology is not yet considered a standard service from most firms; it can be a major investment for companies that wish to offer it. There’s also the issue of communicating the value to clients upfront when that’s better shown in the final results. If this capability presents the same ROI to construction firms as it has for Brady Industries, it could be a real industry game-changer for all manner of projects.