Laser Scanning and BIM

For those not familiar with it, BIM is the acronym for Building Information Modeling. Perhaps the most direct link between BIM and 3D laser scanning is being driven by the GSA’s 3D – 4D – BIM
program. For all major projects the GSA now requires spatial program BIMs at a minimum for submission to OCA for Final Concept approvals by the PBS Commissioner and the Chief Architect.

The critical element of the BIM concept is the “I” – the information aspect. 3D modeling, although a significant improvement over 2D is not the GSA’s main focus. Creating an intelligent 3D model that can support a building’s entire life cycle is the goal. In this regard BIM is similar to GIS in that it is the database of information attached to the graphics that is of primary importance.

How does laser scanning fit in? There are multiple opportunities where it applies. The first is in the documentation of the as-found building condition. This can support the planning and bid document phase. The next is in the shop drawing and construction monitoring. In a historical preservation project without laser scanning it is almost impossible to insure that the contractor is delivering the desired product. And finally, laser scans can be used to support the detailed documentation of the as-built. Long term facility management systems can then leverage this input for future maintenance and upgrade projects.

It really comes down to the accuracy, the level of detail and the completeness that in many cases only laser scanning can provide.

In a recent article in the Federal Times this week the GSA was identified as being one of the largest agency beneficiaries of the almost approved economic stimulus package. This is a BIG sales lead for the service companies out there.

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