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Laser Scanning - The Untold Truths

This week we talk about Laser Scanning.

To date most of our articles on technology are based on software. This week's article is about more than just a software. To understand Laser Scanning software and hardware available to the market, we find it might be worth cooking up a narrative with some truth syrup.

What do you think about when you see Laser Scanning on your project? It depends on where you sit within your organisation I would imagine.

“Oh Great” – Says the Quality Control Manager & the BIM Manager.

“Waste of Money” – Says the Commercial Manager.

“Oh Crap” – Says the Site Team.

Down on site, our surveyors commonly met with a very similar sequence of events and conversation no matter what site we go to.

“Whats that thing?”

“Oh well it records the entire space for accuracy down to the millimeter and ensures our install quality”

What's next occurs every time, and is by all accounts, a very peculiarly phenomenon, an admission of guilt from the would be perpetrators in a last stitch plea to secure immunity as the one who helped us find the issue, a phenomenon we say plays out in crime movies the world over.

“Well actually that corner over their the wall had to move 200mm because there was a pop up in the way…Oh and that sprinkler run had to set on other side of the corridor because there was issue with brackets….”

Usually, this admission of guilt is accompanied with a nudge and wink and a bit of a joke and smile in a measure to deter your judgement and potentially let them off the hook.

With this level of power and data capture, the next logical step is to do what one should always do when looking to find the “benefits” of technology.

In the words of Jerry Maguire – “Show me the money”.

When you hit the Commercial team with a detailed narrative backed up by point cloud data & imagery mapped against the set out drawing which outlines in detail why the site change order, that they had submitted a cost for, is actually their own fault….

It is not long before word travels back down to site in the form of a good old fashioned telling off.

And what would you know, site installation quality improves DRAMATICALLY!

From here on in, the surveying team are met with a very similar reaction to that of the police vans on the motorway. You can sometimes see the beads of sweat running down the area managers face when the scanner arrives into the room as they know the writing is on the wall.

There are plenty of articles on the web about the benefits of Laser Scanning. All of which are loaded with technology advancements, and how many points per second it can record. Different articles telling you why you should buy Leica instead of Topcon, why you should buy verity to automate your checks – but very few get to the brass tax of why it REALLY benefits in the REAL world of a live construction site and the carry on that they don’t write about in the fairy-tale articles and books.


The truth of the matter is quite bleak. Site setting out standards across our industry is beyond crap.

We are working on some of the biggest jobs in the world where time and time again, the site control is not spec’d correctly.

Where this happens - Then the Old traditional folks of our industries favourite saying holds true - BIM is a waste of time. You may as well take the resources assigned to BIM on this project and put them on the tools.

If you have BIM with no site control or validation, you have a car without an engine.

Warning signs we have seen on site this year:

  • Trades measuring off walls and not grids for installation…

  • Grid lines marked on laminated paper sheets and taped to steel columns…seriously?

  • Site personnel not knowing what a grid line is….. what do they set out from?

  • Trades updating their as built simply by changing the drawing status and adding a few red lines….the industry’s worst kept secret, yet we accept it?

Laser Scanning is not cheap, but if invested in correctly and used with the correct process they can pay for themselves 10 times over. Around 30% of works in construction today are reworks. In only 5 weeks on a project, GagaMuller has already identified:

  • Rework savings of €185,000 by using point cloud validation on one particular project.

  • Identified over €35,000 variation for a contractor to claim through a client change funding category.

  • Identify over €55,000 in subcontractor site change requests as incorrect with non-disputable evidence.

  • Identify during a quality check, an entire sequence of works to the sum of €140,000 out of tolerance prior to commencing, avoiding costly reworks.

There are many considerations for you when setting up a Laser Scanning process on your site, other than the obvious requirements to ensure that you have good site control and measures in place for managing control throughout your project and communicating that with your subcontractors, below are some other considerations worth implementing:

  • Set up automated scan processing for quicker turn around times.

  • Develop a laser scan program that align to typical offending trades and room completion on your schedule.

  • Develop a data driven dashboard identifying root causes of issues.

  • Develop a live issue count of non conform set out per area.

  • Develop beakdown of issues by offending trade.

  • Develop tracker to manage pop up set out, limiting high cost risks of mistakes.

  • Daily monitor drawing revision on site ensuring alignment to BIM freeze and drawing approval.

  • Daily monitor Builders Works Installation ensuring right first time with laser line checks being carried out.

  • Develop trend graphs and statistics of each trades install performance.

  • Develop info graphics and breakdown of each trade where there is a commercial impact.

  • Develop templates for full diagnostic of which trade needs to cover the cost of poor install.

  • Develop a non disputable dispute resolution report for commercial reporting.

  • Run a weekly meeting to highlight reworks to be done or works to be stopped due to poor install, delivered in Daily Activity Briefing meetings.

  • Develop league table leader boards and incentivise good quality installation.

Like many of our articles before this highlight, the key to success here is scoping the process and the requirements out early, pre tender. Realistically, it takes the client to be somewhat knowledgeable in what the benefits of laser scanning are to their portfolio (if only they knew the truth about how our industry update their as-builts!).

Regardless of the clients requirements, any innovative and forward thinking contractor will most likely look to scoping laser scanning on their projects if they can understand the true benefits of the technology identified in this article.

At GagaMuller the current valuation of site variation claims disputed and closed as a result of utilising the laser scan data and narrative stands at >€550,000 on a hyperscale Data Centre Project in Northern Europe proving that although expensive technology and service, it can pay for itself multiple times over when utilised correctly.


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