From tape to point cloud
Author: Arno Kijzerwaard
To measure is to know.
This phrase is the basis on how we acquire knowledge and improve any method. This phrase, eventually, is also used by people with dimensioning-related professions, such Pascal Groothedde, owner of the engineering company Groothedde in the Netherlands.
Groothedde specialises in construction, project management, architectural inspections and budgeting. The projects the company undertakes are often in the retail business (shop-fitting) or related to building construction. Reality capture has taken Groothedde to expand his business portfolio, delivering 3D models and CAD drawings much faster and detailed than with traditional methods.
From point-to-point, to millions of points
In the past, when dimensions were needed, the measuring tape was used. The tape measure was later replaced by a laser distance metre. Since Groothedde works often by himself, a Leica DISTOTM S910 laser distance metre eased the job. As projects gained complexity, the DISTOTM with 3D measurement technology proved to be the right tool. With point-to-point measurement technology, Groothedde could capture accurate measurements in 3D from one single tripod position in, for example, old buildings, measuring the walls and ceilings, which not always are perpendicular to one another.
The DISTOTM S910 is still used when a customer only needs a few dimensions, but recently, Groothedde invested in the Leica BLK360 imaging laser scanner, opening new opportunities for his company.
Using the 3D imaging laser scanning, Groothedde discovered a fast and uncomplicated way to capture measurements and as-built information. With the BLK360, combined with an iPad Pro with Recap PRO mobile, an efficient workflow is in place to make 2D floorplans, cross sections and 3D models.
“It is always a challenge to capture the right information for each project. You want to measure as much as possible on site to make sure you have everything you need when you arrive at the office, but you can only work within the possibilities of the equipment you have. Previously, the projects were measured with a traditional DISTOTM.
Due to the current developments in 3D laser scanning, and the release of the BLK360, we decided to invest in the imaging laser scanner. Since the BLK360 measures up to 360,000 points per second, we don’t have to worry if we have enough points measured on site. I can now take on different and more complex projects than ever before and better meet the needs of my customers,” said Groothedde.
Small device, big projects
One of the first projects where Groothedde used the BLK360 was an architectural masterpiece of the Tilburg University in the Netherlands. With almost no straight surfaces and curved walls, the BLK360 proved immediately its strength.
The BLK360 is also used by the company to capture the reality of retail buildings. Shops in old city centres have a complex layout and are often built with no straight walls and straight lines in the interior. Using the BLK360, Groothedde was not only more efficient capturing a set of stores in the centre of Nijverdal, Netherlands, but also caused less disturbances to the businesses. The captured point clouds generated 2D floor plans for the contractor. Where a project in the past used to cost a day, now reality capture is done in one or two hours.
The 3D imaging laser scanner also made it possible to scan from the outside a 4750-cubic-metres building to be remodelled in a luxurious apartment. The owner needed dimensions for the planning, and the lightweight, 1-kilogram BLK360 proved to be big enough for this task.
“Due to the small dimensions and the 60-metre range of the laser scanner, it was possible to get in the smallest spaces. Even a few scans from the gutter, at 31 metres above ground level, were made due the small size of the scanner. On the other hand, it was possible to measure the façade from ground level,” said Groothedde.
With a DISTOTM S910 and the BLK360, Groothedde covers most of his building construction and retail project needs. Projects can be done faster, and the point cloud data can easily be used to make 2D floorplans, cross sections and complete 3D models in, for example, AutoCAD or Revit.
“The BLK360 offers excellent value for money. In combination with the iPad Pro, it gives immediate feedback in the field – with the tablet you can instantly see what you captured, what you need, and if the scans have enough overlap,” said Groothedde.
For the future, Groothedde wants to grow his 3D measurement business by delivering higher accuracy and cloud sharing detailed point clouds.