Standing at an astounding 2,723 feet, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. Taking four years to build, many design decisions were made to ensure the neo-futurist structure served its purpose, while remaining a safe freestanding building in blistering temperatures. Similarly, refurbishment projects require many design considerations to mitigate risks and ensure the building can reach its full potential.
Here, Glyn Shawcross, Engineering and Design Director at engineering solutions provider Boulting Ltd, explains how construction managers can get the most out of their refurbishment projects.
Imagine the following dilemma. A plant refurbishment project is in the pipeline. The manager is putting the plans into place, but the as-built drawings are unavailable and the plant has been updated with a wealth of electrical equipment since construction. How can they truly know what they’re working with?
The whole picture
Capturing millions of points per second, with a 360 degrees field of view, three-dimensional (3D) laser scanning or light detection and ranging (LIDAR) is the process of shining a non-reflective laser line over a surface to collect three-dimensional data. Surface data is captured by a camera sensor mounted in the laser scanner that records accurate 3D points to give a digital representation of the scanned asset in unprecedented detail.
The camera sensor measures variables such as the way the laser’s angle or thickness changes as it moves around the space and records the time it takes for the beams to bounce back to the scanner. Based on those data points, detailed calculations about the spatial relationships between objects in the area as well as the dimensions of the space being measured can be made.
Millions of data points are captured and created in a matter of seconds, which form a point cloud that precisely represents the surveyed area. These points serve a number of functions: to create 3D computer aided design (CAD) models, for quality inspections and, more importantly for construction managers, to create a virtual volumetric distance field that reconstructs an entire surface area for refit, renovation or construction designs.
A building refurbishment project often contains more technical and economic risks than that of a new building, and an accurate understanding of the space during the design phase is vital.
As most construction managers are aware, as-built drawings are notoriously incomplete. A 3D laser scan closes the gap for mistakes in drawings by providing real-time documentation that allows operators to identify conditions that require attention and make more informed decisions about their facility.
Laser scanning removes a large degree of human error from the initial surveying process and enables significantly higher volumes of data to be captured over a considerably shorter period of time. Survey information can be relayed to the refurbishment project team faster, so that the space in question isn’t out of action for too long.
Scan to BIM
With the scan complete, how do project managers bring the digital data from the field to fruition? Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a preference of most blue-chip companies for construction projects, and a natural next step after the scanning process.
A point cloud is merely a mass of data — it is the modelling process that provides intelligence. Three-dimensional data is transformed into smart, geometric components to create a detailed asset record of the space at hand.
Regardless of the scale or complexity, Boulting appreciates that each refurbishment project must be considered methodically and must adhere to industry standards to ensure that hazards in the site are eliminated. Boulting’s design team can help turn laser scanning data into intelligent designs that identify risks, giving a clearer view of the space.
So, whether it’s the world’s tallest freestanding structure or a plant electrical refurbishment, design details must be considered meticulously. For a deeper insight into the state of a space, laser scanning can be implemented to create a hazard-free, effective end result.
Collaboration from concept to construction
Read our take on the benefits of integrated project delivery (IPD) and the collaborative culture it produces.
Engineering standards and the importance of professional registration
Here, Glyn Shawcross, Boulting Design Manager, explores the importance of working with accredited contractors who invest in training for employees.