Laser Scanning for Facilities Management


August 26, 2015 | Manuel Luis

The key for facilities management (FM) is on the ability of storing data about your assets and respective location. Laser scanning can provide both these answers, however traditional workflows for obtaining this results can be costly and time consuming. This article intents do discuss alternative workflows that can allow us to obtain good results for FM purposes at a lower cost.

When most people think about laser scanning for FM they usually think about the traditional workflow associated to, which usually includes:

  • Laser scanning survey;
  • Point cloud data analysis;
  • Laser scans registration process;
  • Creation of 3D as-built models, with one of the available software tools (e.g.: Autodesk Revit, Leica Cyclone, etc.);
  • Populate 3D model with relevant information that will be used for FM (BIM model);
  • Export the BIM model into facilities management software (e.g.: EcoDomus) and tie it to a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) database.

The cost of this entire process can be high, both in price as in time, with the most laborious task on this process being the creation of 3D as-built models from laser scans.  This activity requires expert modelers and may take a huge amount of time (depending on the size of the project). However, considering that the highest costs of a facility comes from operations and maintenance costs during its life cycle, and not during the design & construction phases, this investment can prove to be very useful for both owners and facilities managers.

With the recent year’s development in laser scanning technology, we are now able to collect both ‘point cloud’ and image using the same equipment in a very short timeframe and for higher distances (e.g.: Leica ScanStation P40 as a range up to 270m and can acquire both scan & image).This allows us to create colored point clouds with very good resolutions. The data collected can then be used in a different number of ways.

The quickest way to manage the assets of an owner or facilities manager would be to simply use the processed colored ‘point cloud’ data (product of the laser scans) made available through a 3D viewer (e.g: Leica’s TrueView). TrueView allows for a 3D viewing of the scanned area as if the person was actually there – whether that person is an owner, architect, maintenance person or a planner. The viewer can also take dimensions and tag assets while navigating through the several scans done in the facility, while also being able to identify exactly the coordinates for each asset. The asset tagging can also include the linkage to an existing/new facilities management database which includes relevant information. Additionally, EcoDomus facilities management software integrates Leica’s TrueView in their platform which can allow for additional uses for the available data (as showed in this video:

The use of these tools can avoid (or delay) the need to creating an as-built model for the facility, but still providing relevant information at a lower cost. Finally, if in the future there is the need (or resources available) to create an as-built BIM model, the ‘point cloud’ data previously acquired can also be used.