Opportunity in Times of Change

  1. This was really the theme of the first day at the Leica UC – there is opportunity out there if you are willing to make it happen.
  2. Construction applications were prominent on the first day.
  3. The challenge is to push the technology down to the smaller projects in order to open up the mass market.

That was the title of Jurgen Dold’s, President of Leica Geosystems, opening presentation at the Leica UC, and that was the message that was heard throughout the day. This was not a marketing message from Leica, it was honestly delivered by a variety of end users who are finding opportunities to demonstrate the value of the technology to, in some cases, customers who were not even aware of laser scanning.

As I have mentioned the quality of presentations at this event is outstanding. It will take me a few weeks to work through all of the takeaways, and there are 2 more days of presentations. For those not able to attend the sessions they are being video taped and they will be offered for sale to the public. I spoke with one attendee about whether people would take the time to purchase and watch these. We both agree that it would be time consuming, but that the investment would be a wise one.

I was very encouraged to see an emphasis on the use of scanners in construction – 4 out 10 presentations the first day. The applications involved monitoring settlement of columns in a large warehouse, automatically monitoring structural movement with scanners permanently fixed in position, fabricating a huge section of a refinery retrofit offsite, and the most impressive, a full integration of laser scanning into the daily operations of Hoffman Construction, based in Portland, OR.

Dale Stenning went through a number of projects where Hoffman is finding the use of laser scanning to be critical to their ability to manage risk. He noted that they are in effect becoming a data provider to all of the parties involved with the project. When asked he said that it has been a slow cultural transformation, but it is happening. One of the more impressive projects was a $100 million retrofit of the baggage handling system at the Portland airport – talk about a 3D nightmare of conveyor belts and equipment.

He also observed that today’s CAD systems are not equipped to deal with the as found world where things are not square, plumb, flat and generally orthogonal. He commented that “BIM is brittle”, which I thought was a great insight, and that they use Navisworks to create a “federated model”, since it can accept so many different file formats.

His presentation struck me as view into the future of what an integrated 3D AEC environment could be. Today it is happening on the large projects, but we need to get the technology accepted on the $1 million jobs. When we do that the price of scanners will drop and the use of laser scanning will be commonplace.

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