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SAN JUAN DIARY: The Guru's AGC 2015 Tech Review

The Guru's AGC 2015 Tech Review

by ROB McKINNEY, ConAppGuru | March 24, 2015

Last week, I attended the AGC of America “Technology Showcase” at the Annual Convention in San Juan. The “Tech Showcase” session is designed to deliver new and relevant technology information to convention attendees. The topic for presentations this year focused on the uses for laser scanning and drones on construction projects. There were three great presentations by experienced construction technology professionals:

  1. Brian Laird (Rick Engineering) “Realities of Reality Capturing”
  2. Rawle Sawh (Gilbane Construction) “Laser Scanning: Taking it to the Next Level”
  3. Blake Potts (Rogers O’Brien Construction) “UAV and the Construction projects” 

Here are a few highlights from each of the presentations…

1. Brian Laird,“Realities of Reality Capturing”

Mr. Laird works for the California based Rick Engineering firm. He work in the GIS and laser scanning group and most of scanning is for vertical work in California. He asked the attendees a great opening question, “What are the uses for 3D laser scanning on projects for the collection of Data on the field?” More to the point he asked “What is the value I get out of it?” A few of the items of value for construction companies that Mr. Laird pointed out were…

  • Obtaining As-built conditions to compare against design documents, example location of duct work on a project;
  • Add real world data to a model to use for clash detection and redesign;
  • Streamline the virtual spatial coordination process between Owner, A&E Team, and General Contractor.

Mr. Laird explained the steps in making the Point Cloud…

  1.  – Field data collection (using a device to scan a site and develop the data):
  2.  – Importing Data (from field collector device):
  3. – Stitching Data (put it together):
  4. – Cleaning Data (make it work):
  5. – Web Publishing Data (share it with others):
  6. – Translating Data (use it):

2. Rawle Sawh, “Laser scanning: taking it to the next level”

Mr. Sawh is the VDC Manager for Gilbane’s New York City office. Gilbane has three scanners across the country that they use on project sites. The New York office has one unit. The scanners and the data they generate help remove uncertainty and reduce risk of pre-existing conditions. Mr. Sawh explained to the attendees what the practicality of using laser scanners is on construction projects. Benefits consist of:

  • Creating as-built set of conditions that are never documented properly on new projects;
  • Reducing the risk taken on by providing a project bid-based on an inadequate set of bid documents;
  • The risk and reward of outsourcing versus in-house scanning, now cheaper to do in-house for volume of work. It's easy to train in-house staff on how to use tech;
  • Entry costs vs. ROI: The upfront cost to do scanning in-house versus outsourced are very high. His team has seen great ROI on projects that they have scanned.

Mr. Sawh also explained to the crowd how the scanner actually works, referencing…

  • – Line of Sight;
  • – Time of Flight vs. Phase Shift measurement;
  • – Two step process (distance & color);
  • -  Resolution;
  • -  Applicability – Traditional vs. Distinct Uses
  • – As-built verification;
  • – MEP coordination w/o having to model existing conditions;
  • – Confirming rentable SF of spaces;
  • – As-built of re-bar in metal deck;
  • – Logistics planning;
  • – Slab flatness & cut/fill analysis of floors;
  • -  Liability;
  • – Gilbane uses it as a QA/QC mechanism;
  • – Licensed surveyors are still required for building control, axis lines, survey control, etc.
  • – Sharing the Data.

3. Blake Potts, “UAV and the Construction projects”

How did R-O get into UAV unmanned aerial vehicles? Mr. Potts told they story about how Rogers-O’Brien (RO) got into the use of drones on Construction projects. The team eventually selected a swing stage unit to conduct the exterior inspection. It took a week to set up, it was used for two hours by two employees, and the total cost was around $5,000! The crew used the swing stage to look at the exterior skin and take pictures. It was at this point that Mr. Potts thought there has to be a better way to do this type of inspection that is  both cheaper and safer.

After this experience, the R-O team began to research the different types of drone units available on the market. Thy began to explore the use cases for drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – aka UAV) for construction projects. What they were trying to determine was the best patch to push this sort of technology down to the project site level?

A great example that Mr. Potts shared with us revolved around the constant debate on site about how much work has been put in place by a Subcontractor. One of the R-O Site Superintendents had been debating with a Subcontractor about how much progress they had actually made on a work sequence. The R-O Site Superintendent used a Drone to fly the site and take a series of photos of the Subcontractors work area. He then brought the photos into BlueBeam, marked it up, sent the photos to the Subcontractor, and the debate was ended.

The three presenters did a great job. They conveyed to attendees the amazing things that new technologies can do for project sites now. To learn more about what current and future technology can do for your projects, join the AGC IT Forum this summer on July 30-31 in Chicago for its annual conference. (CLICK HERE for more information).

The author, Rob McKinney, is a construction technology blogger, consultant and founder of Construction App Guru: A website with a mission to educate the AEC Community about the uses for technology in construction. By day, he is also safety director for Atlanta-based JM Wilkerson Construction.

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