How Hollis captures, processes, manages and delivers reality capture data

Case study

Author: Renata Barradas

Is data processing and producing CAD and other deliverables giving you a headache?

Reality Capture experts know that capturing data is just one step in the process. Processing, managing and delivering data are part of the workflow. Processing and producing CAD and other deliverables can sometimes be the most time-consuming parts of the workflow.

Tim Beach, Chartered Geomatics Surveyor and Measured Building Specialist from Hollis, has been relying on laser scanning in the U.K. since 2003. Hollis is a leading firm of independent real estate consultants with 24 offices in the U.K., Ireland and mainland Europe. Beach is based within the Measured Survey team and is responsible for AEC level-detail projects.

Within his role, he gets to test hardware and software to ensure the solutions are as efficient as possible for their clients. Beach has successfully incorporated laser scanning into existing measured building survey workflows at Hollis.

Within its 25-service offering, Hollis’ measured services integrate into several of the others, such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering (MEP) where the team uses laser scanning for plant and environments requiring Revit modelling for clash detection exercises. The unit uses laser scanning for other applications, such as the rights of light (ROL) analysis to examine impacts of new developments, project management for refurbishing and redevelopment of existing buildings.

Hollis owns several Leica Geosystems equipment, including:

“Hollis has invested quite heavily in Leica Geosystems equipment in recent years. Having tested various hardware and software providers, we chose Leica Geosystems. We found Leica Geosystems gave us the solution that fits best into our business model. We have a number of ScanStation P40’s, total stations and GPS for control and putting our surveys in the correct location,” said Beach.

Laser scanning a 180,000-square-feet building

Keeping pace with demanding deadlines

The challenges of laser scanning an 11-floor 180,000 sq.ft. building in central Birmingham, U.K., go beyond the building itself, including finding locations which provided visible access to each face of the building in an already congested area. Hollis opted for laser scanning given the scale of the building, its complexities, and the client timescales and deliverables.

To scan each of the rooms on every floor, Hollis had to coordinate access arrangements with all tenants. “Laser scanning in conjunction with accurate survey control allowed us to move around the building, scan what we needed to in the areas we had access to at that time, knowing that we would be able to register the captured scan data together at the end, and be confident that we would be able to get the correct result,” said Beach.

The deliverables requested by the client included standard 2D CAD information of floor plans, elevations and cross-sections. During the project, the client required additional information, including structural soffit and slab details in various locations, a full topographical survey of the immediate surroundings, façade deviation reports and monitoring work.

Data Capture

Due to the tight deadlines, Hollis deployed two teams each with a Leica ScanStation P40 and completed the survey in just five days. Eight-man days on-site were required to capture the inside of the building, plus one day to install survey control around the property and to do the external laser scanning. The team collected data with confidence, without the need for excessive survey control, generating 90 GB of raw data from approximately 1,500 scan positions. The Viva GS08 plus RTK GNSS was used to geo-reference multiple points around the site to transform the data to Ordnance Survey Grid and Datum.

Processing Data

Hollis began registering the captured scan data after the first site inspection day. The two survey teams on-site sent the collected raw data at the end of each day to the local office to begin import and registration. All registration elements were carried out during the day and auto alignments left to process overnight. This workflow minimised the processing time and permitted the team to start the CAD work early on. In total, Beach’s team took six days for registration, resulting in a final database of 259 GB.

Beach and his team registered all scans using Cyclone REGISTER with local control and cloud to cloud techniques. Cyclone REGISTER allowed the team to split the registration into logical parts and combine them to generate a final master data set.

"We found that cloud-to-cloud provided the greatest flexibility in the site work and the registration of a building with such complex geometry. Being able to register your data together, combined with the P40 with a dual-axis compensator, ensures we are confident that the data we are producing is correctly orientated and we don’t have any issues downstream. […] Cyclone REGISTER gave us an incredibly flexible approach to how we undertook the registration,” said Beach.

Managing Data

Hollis has 30 employees in the measured service team distributed across multiple offices who could require access to data for any given project at any given time. To generate the deliverables for the clients, cross-regional teams collaborate using a high-performance streaming and centralised project platform to access data over internal and external networks – Leica JetStream. Using this simplified point cloud access Hollis measured survey experts can import and render full-density point cloud data in real time within CAD applications and share JetStream Viewer files with various stakeholders. Using this approach, the real estate consulting company streamlines collaboration in projects.

"The use of Leica Jetstream has allowed us to host our data centrally in London, where everyone can access. If our regional offices undertake a scanning project, they can upload to the JetStream Server overnight, opening up the data to everyone else. For other teams who are not power users of scan data but occasionally need to use the data, we can host and archive their project's data," said Beach.

Using Leica JetStream allowed the team to disseminate the final data set amongst various teams in various locations to complete the project on time and budget. “JetStream enabled us to complete the project in the most efficient manner and as accurately as possible.” said Beach.

Delivering data

Keeping pace with demanding deadlines

Surveyors generate a great amount of data using laser scanning that is captured, processed and managed to provide actionable data that supports decision-making.

Leica TruView is the collaborative tool Hollis surveying team relies on to share point cloud data and design models. One of the many uses for TruView within Tim’s team is as a Q&A tool to ‘walkthrough’ models and for checking congested environments remotely and safely.

“Leica TruView provides a location-based view of data from the sites. We use it to produce the deliverables using all information available – not just relying on slices in CloudWorx where features can be missed. For the building project in central Birmingham, our team could split the data logically by building and by floor. TruView allows viewers to measure, add geometry, incorporate hot links and embed geotags for asset management needs,” said Beach.

Full end-to-end solution from data collection to delivery

Using a complete reality capture workflow from Leica Geosystems, Hollis produced deliverables of floor plans, sections, and elevations for its client in the most efficient manner. Through re-use of previously-collected data, the team could accommodate the clients’ additional requirements very quickly. Geared with JetStream surveyors saved time by loading and accessing data from one central location, helping to deliver the project on time and budget.

Watch Beach explaining how Hollis integrated hardware and software into different projects in the webinar “Increasing productivity and collaboration with Leica Geosystems total software solution.”

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