Employing Scan to BIM for Infrastructure Projects

Employing Scan to BIM for Infrastructure

Scan to BIM is the process of 3D laser scanning a physical building, space or site and creating an accurate digital representation for it from the point cloud data. Scan to BIM Services has enabled the AEC professionals to properly design, capture and model the as-built environment. Though the conventional deliverables of BIM utilized for renovation or reconstruction stay the same like refined workflows, optimized efficiency, enhanced collaboration there are also added layers of complexities and new considerations added due to the existing “As-built” structure or a building.

Globally, the AEC companies’ and government agencies are seeking to digitize their infrastructure in order to meet several strategic requirements of upgradations, renovations, progress monitoring and even facility management. The above complexities are further enhanced in the infrastructure projects due to the large geographical span and numerous involved stakeholders. Specifically, the renovation and reconstruction projects for infrastructure operate on tight deadlines and budget restrictions. In these situations utilizing Scan to BIM for Infrastructure would provide greater project control and allow the AEC professionals to carry out their project more efficiently.

Capturing accurate Point Cloud Data

Ideally, laser scanning of infrastructure like roads, bridges tunnels is not a simple or a swift process. Here Terrestrial Scanning and Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS) could be valuable. Terrestrial scanning is conducted by mounting laser scanners on tripods in order to carry out detailed surveys. In MLS the laser systems are mounted on moving vehicles, drones etc. to accurately laser scan the networks which could potentially include lanes, bridges etc. Using MLS could ensure no disruption to the normal functions of the roads and allow accurate representations. Along with the point cloud data, 360 images, videos could also be helpful to understand true scale of the infrastructure.

Data Registration and BIM Modeling

Once the data has been acquired it needs to be aligned in order to generate the BIM model. This process is called registration. This occurs because the scanning is not conducted from a singular vantage point and the scans need to stitched together to gain a comprehensive understanding. The 360 images, site photographs and even the available 2D documentation aid in the registration process. Once the data is registered it is transported into Revit and the modelling process commences. At the core of the modelling phase lies accuracy. The BIM modellers must at all points ensure utmost precision so that the project goal could be achieved. Any errors would lead to insufficient cooperation, limited information, and inadequate project control etc. These shortcoming could result in reduced efficiency, more rework and higher financial risk. Thus, in Point cloud to BIM infrastructure projects precision, expertise and competency are crucial.  We can understand that with the example of one case study carried out by us.

Importance of Precision in the Point Cloud to BIM transportation projects:

We were tasked with creating Point Cloud to BIM model of a road in UK with four different sections. The scope of the project involved accurate modelling of existing roads (topo surface), bridges along with key features like sidewalks, drains, gutters, traffic lights, posts etc. The completed BIM model was to be utilized for reconstruction of road network. The sheer size and different topography of the surface meant that precise coordination had to take place at the all the levels of modelling. The SOW also included creating an undulated road of the bridge that had several curves and undulations. This had to be accurately modelled so that they corresponded with the actual end points of the bridge. Undulation refers to the continuous up and down movement of the road and considering the importance of undulation in transport safety the point of precision could be reiterated. Furthermore, the bridge with curves and undulations was connected to roads and sidewalks by a kerb. Separate kerbs had to modelled for all the curves. If the roads and curves were not modelled with utmost precision and its dimensions were inaccurate then it could have a domino effect in other areas of the project.

Utilizing Scan to BIM enabled us to get a holistic view of the entire network which included wastewater services, gas pipelines, electrical lines etc. With proper information and enhanced visualization the location of both above the ground features like sidewalks, drains, traffic lights etc. and the underground features like the gas pipelines, water lines etc. the reconstruction was planned in a manner that the existing services were not disturbed or damaged. All clashes that were caused as a result of expansion and reconstruction they were aptly detected and resolved before commencing of onsite work.

Moreover, allowing to know the exact condition of these features enabled the civil engineers to choose what needed to be replaced during the reconstruction and which could be reused. This reduced the over project cost and is also more sustainable. The accurate BIM model provided information that added value at practically every phase of the reconstruction and expansion process. The fact that we were precise in creating the data rich BIM model, ensured that the information provided to the onsite project managers and ground workers was also accurate and detailed. It enabled them to carry out the process in stipulated timeframes without facing and significant hurdles.

Conclusion: Scan to BIM for Infrastructure is a game changer

Utilizing Scan to BIM could provide exact representation of the infrastructure’s existing condition and can ensure a streamlined reconstruction. It could also assist in planning and creating the conceptualizing design that is needed for presentation and government approvals. It also provides a common platform for all the involved stakeholders to share information and resolve any conflicts. The true cost of miscalculation could significantly cause monetary and time repercussions which can be drastically reduced with accurate BIM models.

Additionally, utilizing BIM Services for Infrastructure projects facilitates design evaluation wherein the civil engineers can conduct simulations and analysis thereby designing for constructability, sustainability and road safety. Finally, the same BIM model which is used for reconstruction and expansion can be updated with any onsite changes and be utilized for operations and maintenance.

Written By:
Dhvani Badheka
Dhvani is an irreverent writer who has over 4 years of experience under her belt. She is a life-long learner and a quick study which provides her articles a unique insight. She is always reading, researching new materials and trying to expand her knowledge of the AEC industry so that she can create interesting and valuable content.

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