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Automation to drive growth in the construction sector

By David Gray

Construction market output volume to grow by 85% by 2030

According to the Global Construction Report 2030, the value of the global construction market is forecast to increase by US$8 trillion with output volume growing by 85% to US$15.5 trillion by 2030. Achieving such high growth will be challenging given the practices and techniques currently utilised. The traditional project lifecycle is fraught with inefficiencies and productivity dips. This is principally due to the limitations of data sharing between the numerous project stakeholders which can result in miscommunication, delay and inaccuracies. The industry needs to tackle these issues in order to help deliver cost improvements to the bottom line for organisations in the construction value chain.


Registration can be slow, complex and painful

Laser scanning professionals are all too aware of the challenges associated with registering point cloud data. With increasingly tight building specifications to meet and project deadlines to achieve, surveyors, engineers, architects and project managers frequently have to balance computer processing power with file sizes and data accuracy. They also have to juggle time spent on site capturing that data, a process which includes planning target placement in the field in order to achieve good registration data. 

Placing targets in the scene for 3D laser scanning can be a chore, especially on large scale projects or where those targets must be placed at height. Most projects require consideration of how many targets to use and where to place them in the scene. This is especially true if you want to minimise manual alignment and corrections during the registration phase. Alternatively, you might be working to a project specification which requires targets in the field. For example, it might be necessary to provide survey coordinates, or the project site is sufficiently large to require targets. Complex areas with tight spaces can also bring about the need to place targets. 

A great deal of time can also be spent in the office processing the resultant scans, especially with larger projects with greater scale across multiple floors. As reality capture as a core element in the construction process becomes more widely adopted, it's inevitable that the requirements placed on software to process increasingly large amounts of data will grow. The potential for data inaccuracy can increase as file sizes place higher demands on surveyors, BIM technicians and their computer processors.

Laser scan data can make or break projects

As construction projects become more complex with intricate designs provided by a range of service providers, laser scan data that has been created and processed accurately is key. The tasks involved in creating and processing that data are central to project success, and when executed poorly can eat into budgets and push timelines into uncomfortable territory. Ultimately, this can result in compromised project delivery. By ensuring that the laser scanning process is as simple and efficient as possible, errors can be minimised. As a compliment to laser scanning, robust and accurate registration of the scan data means that more reliable models can be produced and passed along the building information modelling (BIM) workflow. Users in that workflow benefit from increased confidence in the building process meeting the actual design specifications and means that collaborators can return to a single digital file to reference their workload.

However, inaccurate point cloud data has the potential to create issues further down the workflow. In the same way that laying poor building foundations can lead to greater construction problems, poorly registered laser scans will undoubtedly compromise measurements and fabrication later in the construction process. It is mission-critical that these pitfalls are overcome as early as possible. 

Fast, convenient and reliable registration should be easy

The knock-on benefits of working with accurate BIM data are numerous. Now, more reliable and accurate automatic point cloud registration can be achieved using a novel algorithm. This removes the chore of placing targets in the scene and gives you the option to process scan data more easily than ever before. No software installations, no add-on updates, no CPU or RAM-hungry hardware specifications, and no huge upfront software costs are necessary. Of course, the cloud also has potential to minimise local storage space requirements. Simply upload your scan data to cloud storage or via your web browser, configure the scan network - or even simpler, export network data from a mobile app - then hit ‘go’!


Automation in the cloud takes alignment to the next level

As cloud technology permeates industries on a global scale, the lure of improved efficiency is beginning to reveal itself to the AEC sector. Management, planning and site software, as well as BIM, mobile apps are improving processes and streamlining tasks. Reality capture has the potential to bring far-reaching elements of the value chain together and deliver real cost savings. For the smart business, this can mean establishing a competitive advantage over a rival firm. 

As point cloud data becomes a more widespread currency in the BIM workflow moving towards a digital twin, and registration in the cloud delivers data faster than ever before, the likelihood of creating a competitive advantage is real.

You have been reading about how the global construction market will benefit from cloud automation for BIM. If you still have questions about cloud processing or how to get started with BIM, we have written an Ultimate Guide to BIM just for you.You can find out more and see the benefits for yourself here.