By Zack Banta & Chad Riegle
Paladin, Inc.

Bringing Buildings To Life In 3D

As a couple of guys who essentially live in the virtual world, we have been amazed (and pleased) to see some traditional construction management firms dive headlong into the benefits of scanning technology. All it took was some traditional project metrics (like shortened coordination times and reduced travel expenses) and accurate, accessible data to persuade them that our 3D modeling was the key to a more effective project.

Case in point is a recent project we did on a hospital in our region, working for one of the bigger construction management firms in the country. The original design had evolved over time, so the accuracy of site mapping was of high importance. Thankfully, the client brought us in during the design phase of the project, giving us the access we needed to complete a thorough digital scan of the existing structure and systems. Our data, including detailed photography from every imaginable angle, provided the fodder for some very productive conversations among the project team and the associated trades.

One critical conversation had to do an existing six-inch fire protection main running down a designed corridor that left almost no room for necessary ductwork. Viewing it virtually in the collaborative setting of a planning meeting allowed for rapid conflict resolution that might have taken much, much longer on the jobsite between two stressed tradesmen on a tight deadline.

Conversations that take place during the clash detection process are challenging no matter the context. It’s a fact of life that no one, be they an architect, an engineer, or tradesperson, wants to discuss possible flaws or conflicts in a design or set of drawings. For real collaboration, a culture of trust must be the foundation of a construction team, with a shared, ego-less commitment to the project’s success. If participants are given the freedom to adapt to the situation as it actually is, discoveries can be made and solutions can be weighed with no need to be afraid of jobsite conflicts. The availability of top-quality modeling data can help drive the creation of such a positive culture.

Breaking down the walls that obstruct that culture starts with the understanding that the 3D scanning and modeling aren’t focused on changing the design – that’s the architect’s job. Instead, the goal is improved communications and coordination based on inarguable data. Our ability to eliminate serious conflicts in the design before it goes to bid has helped our clients create more accurate proposals, shorten the coordination phase, speed up construction time, mobilize onsite crews more quickly and, ultimately, get the project done faster. Results like that only affirm the value of the technology and strengthen that collaborative culture.

While conflict resolution and project acceleration are certainly the primary benefits of our 3D scanning and modeling, our clients have discovered other advantages of the technology’s use, including:

  • PORTABILITY: we can pack up our gear, fly pretty much anywhere and get to work in structures of almost any size. We’re back home processing data before you know it.
  • ACCURACY: our scans generate hundreds of millions of data points and 360-degree imagery then our software stitches it together into a seamless presentation of reality.
  • AVAILABILITY: The data set we create becomes a resource to everyone on the project and keeps them reading from the same page.
  • SAFETY: as we all deal with the challenges of a global pandemic, it’s helpful to have a technology that not only reduces visits to jobsites but can also super charge virtual meetings. Our modeling is the onscreen equivalent of rolling out a set of plans on the work table.

People may think of data as a cold, soulless thing, but we are continually amazed at the degree of warmth it brings to professional relationships on our projects. It takes the form of confident bidders, collaborative tradesmen and, most importantly, satisfied customers. When coordination time on a project is cut almost in half by our modeling and the coordination conversations along open lines of communication that they spur, everyone involved looks good, everyone benefits.

So, if techniques that save time and money while building harmony on your construction team appeal to you, we would love to improve your next project.