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Scanning Realities

Laser-focused insights into the current geospatial landscape and beyond

NavVis Indoorviewer integration at Archibus
Stephen CousinsJun 25, 20184 min read

How 3D scanning is used for asset and facility management

In the third of a series of blogs focused on the built environment, journalist Stephen Cousins explains how 3D scanning can bring benefits to a client long after construction is completed and the building handed over.

The first two blogs in our series examined how advanced asset scan 3D technologies and Building Information Modeling (BIM) are coming together, in a process called Scan-to-BIM. It creates efficiencies on renovation or new build projects as they go through design and construction.

Now we turn our attention to the point of handover and beyond, as the building owner and operational teams, including facility managers, exploit 3D models and associated data to coordinate ongoing maintenance and repair work, plan future renovation or extension projects, and more.

The transition to Asset Information Model

Projects that have implemented BIM to its fullest extent will provide the client with an Asset Information Model (AIM) at handover designed for use during the operational phase of the building.

This remains a fledgling field as most BIM applications are focused on efficiencies for design and construction. But some people are striving to realize the longer term benefits of using BIM data and documentation post-handover to efficiently operate and maintain an asset.

The AIM might include a set of accurate 3D models, built up from dimensionally accurate 3D laser scans recorded throughout the project. It also includes other graphical and non-graphical data and information recorded and uploaded by the contractor team.

It can articulate anything from floor plans and layouts, to maintenance schedules and the specific locations and requirements of materials and components.

All this information is very useful to facility management professionals as a single source of information. It allows scheduling the long-term maintenance and replacement of items such as lighting fixtures, mechanical and electrical components or flooring materials, or reconfiguring spaces.

New software makes building information more accessible

Many facility management teams utilize specialist software, known as Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM), to plan, monitor and execute activities required for the operation. The most advanced tools are able to integrate at some level with BIM, recognize the new generation of BIM file formats such as RVT, PLN and IFC, export geometry and data, or produce dimensionally accurate 2D floor plans.

Where BIM software compatibility is an issue, or specialist software is not available, the powerful 3D indoor visualization tool IndoorViewer from NavVis can come into play.

The tool makes it possible to visualize fully immersive Google Street View-style panoramas of indoor spaces in a web browser, accessed by simply clicking links embedded in 2D floor plans in the CAFM software. An easy to use content management feature makes it possible to add and edit these geo-referenced ‘points of interest’. One example of this comes from German software design company, Büren & Partner, who have integrated the NavVis IndoorViewer into ARCHIBUS’s CAFM system to provide a much more detailed overview of assets.

Specialist 3D surveying firm Precision Point has been providing the NavVis IndoorViewer functionality to construction clients as part of handover documentation. CEO Mark Hanna tells me that facility management teams now see it as an invaluable resource. “IndoorViewer brings a new level of realism to facility management-type software. The immersive 360 degree image really helps users understand the space and its characteristics, without having to leave the office and visit it in person,” he said.

The evolution of BIM brings long-term benefits

Detailed 3D scanning, carried out using static tripod systems, drones, mobile devices, like the NavVis Indoor Mobile Mapping System (IMMS), or other means, need not end when construction comes to a close.

Sometimes, when the project has not been well documented during construction, a client will commission a full-building scan as a form of validation to check that the as-built product matches the design models.

In the months and years following handover, building owners and their architects sometimes revisit point clouds and BIM models to plan new design work, such as building extensions and renovations.

Hanna tells me: “We have seen clients return to models scanned five to ten years ago to plan new projects, which really demonstrates the value of scan data - it remains reliable and relevant for use in the future.”

Subsequent renovations or additions can then be scanned and the data incorporated into the original point cloud and BIM model to create an up-to-date, dimensionally accurate version of the asset.

This demonstrates how BIM can evolve from a siloed application, used on one-off construction projects, to help plan and design a range of connected buildings or estates. That includes hospitals or universities, or even districts and cities, incorporating many thousands of built assets.

Cities including Singapore, Chicago, Helsinki, Hamburg, and London have already created massive 3D models of the urban realm. They use a combination of advanced 3D capture methods and software, such aerial LIDAR and oblique high resolution photographs, used to help streamline planning and development, improve energy consumption and drive citizen engagement.

Most recently, the German city of Duisburg and Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei announced similar ambitions for a Smart City in Duisburg.

In the next few weeks we will be going into more detail on the asset management use cases and Smart Cities mentioned today, so make sure you check back soon.