Center For Excellence


Hawaii Takes the Lead on Laser Scanning

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   April 15, 2013
Hawaii Takes the Lead on Laser Scanning

Advances in construction technology continue to change the design and construction industry on what seems like a daily basis. Since technology has improved and costs have dropped, much of what was previously considered “bleeding edge” equipment and software is now within our reach, allowing Swinerton to become a leading-edge builder. Last year, Swinerton Builders Hawaii purchased a FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D, which was named one of Popular Science Magazine’s top 100 “Best of What’s New” awards. Swinerton’s first 3D laser scanner has already been put to good use on more than 20 projects and pursuits equating to more than one million square feet of total scanned area.  Our San Francisco, Sacramento, and Denver offices quickly followed the laser scanning wave that started in Hawaii.

The 12-pound FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D sits atop a regular camcorder tripod. When activated, its invisible (and eye-safe) laser begins to spin in a 360-degree circle and collects millions of points within the scanners range and line of sight in a timeframe between three to 10 minutes, depending on the settings. This accumulation of points (which is called a point-cloud) is assigned to its corresponding X, Y, and Z coordinates.  At this point, the 3D Laser Scanner switches over to a digital camera and again spins in a 360-degree circle collecting a panoramic image of the space. The 3D point-cloud and the panoramic image are then overlaid with each other, and the color from the digital camera pictures is transposed onto the corresponding points from the point-cloud. Then, the 3D Laser Scanner is moved to its next position and the process starts again. Simple paper or sphere targets are used in each scan to help align all of the different scans of a space. Next, the software stitches all of the individual scans of a space into one large point-cloud file, which can  be used in Revit, Navisworks, or AutoCAD for a variety of purposes.

The point-cloud is most useful for renovating large spaces, such as our Andaz Wailea Resort and Villas project, in which we created a Revit file of the structural and architectural features based off of the contract documents. A 3D laser scan was completed after demolition and some of the key coordination areas were overlaid onto the previously completed Revit file. This allowed our team to pin-point where columns, beams, and walls were misaligned.  In several cases, we found columns in locations which were not shown on the contract documents or as-built drawings. In the example to the right, a column was identified with the 3D Laser Scan, which was not shown on the contract documents. This existing column was conflicting with French doors leading into a Dining/Pre-Function room for the main Ballroom. By catching these issues early, the design could be adjusted prior to any materials being fabricated preventing a delay in these areas.