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Lasers, Hammers, and Money

April 19, 2018 | Vaughn J. Mantor

The cost of construction, per square foot, was flat for most of the last half-century. Meaning, construction productivity did not benefit much from fifty years of astonishing advances in computing and technology. That is, the amounts of labor, services, and goods that were employed to build a building in 1960 were much the same in 2000. (adjusted for inflation)

Elsewhere, the changes in productivity have been so powerful that not using appropriate technology is business suicide. Imagine running a grocery store without checkout scanners.

The advent of precision measurement with 3D laser scanning technology is changing many aspects of construction for the better.


Most of the time, whenever an architect begins the design of a substantial change to a building, he or she is working from inaccurate measurements.

Worse, previous changes are not adequately documented so the architect may go through several revisions of the design because adequate as-built information was not available. And the responsibility is pushed out to others. “Contractor is responsible for verifying accurate measurements,” is a very common phrase in RFPs and RFQs.

Most of the time, engineers go through the same problems as the architects, and in addition, the as-built information they’re looking for is hidden above drop ceilings, in crawl spaces, and in other cubbyholes and obscure places.

Most of the time, the general and sub contractors discover the anomalies and contradictions in the design and engineering while they’re building. This causes all sorts of delays and expense.

All these difficulties come from one source: inadequate and inaccurate as-built information. Why? No one has the time or money to take complete measurements – by manual methods – beforehand, of any structure. And the cost to turn manual measurements into an adequate CAD model or set of paper drawings is exorbitant.

However, laser scanning captures nearly 180 million measurements in just three minutes, and every measurement is 3-dimensional, with X, Y, and Z coordinates, accurate to less than 1/4 inch. Injecting such information into construction projects changes project timelines and budgets for the better, when used properly.

We’ll expound on the many uses, advantages, and applications of this technology in upcoming posts. If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call or click here.

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