Olsson Associates


3D scanning: The applications are endless

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Linda Van Hoosen, Communications

The LIDAR 3D scanner is not pretty. It’s a gray and green square-shaped piece of technology that oscillates on a tripod as it quietly operates. But, the inner workings of the high-definition scanner (HDS) produces imagery that is colorful- almost beautiful. The applications for 3D scanning are endless, and Eddie Fossler and his Survey team at Olsson Associates are finding ways to use the equipment effectively.

“Most of the clients we work with know that we have this capability, and we’ve used it with quite a few of them,” said Fossler, survey technical manager for Olsson. “We found the scanner is perfect for some clients’ needs; for others, a more traditional deliverable is still needed.”

Olsson’s 3D scanner is a Leica P20 ScanStation, which captures up to one million points per second at 3-millimeter positional accuracy. It has a range of 50 meters, and a 6-millimeter positional accuracy at a range of 120 meters. Using multiple scans from different vantage points, the scans create a dense point cloud that we use to generate 3D models, AutoCad-ready line work, surfaces, and pipes. The data collected using HDS is supported in a variety of design platforms such as Autodesk Revit, Navisworks, and Autodesk Civil 3D.

The 3D scanner is different from traditional methods of collecting data. The scanner is more accurate, and it also reduces the need for multiple site visits.

“We scanned a building for a project and picked up a nearby overpass in the data. We handed it off to a client who was happy that we got that overpass,” Fossler said. “While not part of the original landscape, they wondered about the distances between the overpass and the building. So, by nature of the scanner’s radius of data collection, we were able to answer a question the client hadn’t anticipated originally.”

Fossler says this discovery has helped his team evolve when it comes to getting information from clients before the scan is done. In addition to sitting down with clients and talking about what they need for the project, Fossler and his team also take time now to educate the client about what software they will need to use the data correctly. They also look at the benefits of using it for some projects and not others.

“Having a discussion with the client before we actually start recording is key,” Fossler said. “The technology is so flexible. It’s important to talk about its capability right out of the gate so we can get a grasp of what the client is after.”

Fossler says the uses for the 3D scanner will get expanded at Olsson.

“We’ve been using this technology for a while now, and we’re able to answer more questions about it. We grew this program from the ground up, and we have people who are invested in it. They know the technology, and we’re excited about the opportunities it will open for us.”

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