Capturing reality in one of the world’s busiest airports

Case study

Author: Kevin Cordeiro

Changi Airport in Singapore is famed for its calm atmosphere and the smooth running of all operations at the airport. Its long-standing reputation as the world’s leading airport can be largely attributed to the management’s progressive and innovative approach to the running of the airport. Changi Airport Group (CAG) was keen to look into how the latest laser scanning technology could be used to maintain its facilities to the highest standards in the long term.

Taking a long-term view

To further enhance aspects such as Facilities Management on an ongoing basis, Changi Airport Group needed an accurate and precise 3D model capturing every aspect of the terminal of Architectural, Structural and MEP.

With an eye on the future, Changi Airport Group recognised this opportunity to deliver long term value with an as-built BIM (a virtual replica), which would be a valuable tool even after renovation and expansion work was completed. JTRS Registered Surveyor (JTRS) were commissioned to scan and create the BIM of T2. JTRS Registered Surveyor is a professional land surveying company, known for their progressive approach to surveying and use of the latest equipment to deliver the highest standards of accuracy. They are leading specialists in 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry – the key practices required to construct the BIM. In this project, JTRS worked in conjunction with BIM solution service provider, Geodelta System Sdn Bhd.

In commissioning the BIM, Changi Airport Group became one of the first in Singapore to adopt new BIM technology for future redevelopment projects. The scan was to be one of the largest Scan-to-BIM projects produced in Singapore, requiring more than 600,000 square metres of floor areas, including the MEP aspects above the architectural ceiling to be scanned with both extreme data clarity and sharp resolution for the modelling.


Synchronisation and smooth operations

With multiple parties involved in the future renovation and expansion works, the As-Built BIM incorporates all the drawings, plans, elevations, sections and perspectives. As these drawings are extracted from the model, changes are incorporated in the model and automatically updated. This approach enables project members to design and build collaboratively using one coherent system of computer models and minimising the need for site visits for further manual checks.

The first stage of the project involved establishing a new set of control network where JTRS set a total of 144 control points for the entire scan. The geo-reference would provide a homogenous set of information for future projects. This enables confident, precise registration and geo-location of multiple scans, which could be passed to contractors so everyone could work on the same base. For the control surveying, JTRS used the Leica Nova TM50, six prisms and a Leica DNA03 digital level.

Jimmy Tan, Director and Registered Surveyor at JTRS commented,“The Leica Nova TM50 enabled us to measure four sets of angles at each setup very quickly, with the high-angle accuracy needed to measure the horizontal and vertical angles. By measuring so many set of angles at each setup with confidence, the TM50 dramatically expedited the completion of the control survey network mapping across all three Changi Airport terminals.”


Precision at scale

To address the dual challenge of precision and scale in creating the BIM model, JTRS used the Leica Geosystems integrated scanning solution comprising of one Leica ScanStation P40 unit and two Leica BLK360 imaging laser scanners together with Leica Geosystems’ software solutions.

The ScanStation P40 was selected based on its ability to reach a very high density and produce high resolution and accuracy - up to 1mm spacing of data - over the huge space combined with excellent performance and reliability. The ScanStation P40 was used for the control scan of the entire building and large areas like the departure hall and staircases, while the BLK360 addressed the small and more confined areas.

“Leica Geosystems’ integrated scanning solution produces rich data and the modelling is not only more accurate than competing solutions, but it is also able to capture and scan even the smallest of details. Whilst other products are able to offer precision in small areas, they may not be able to deliver the same quality of data over such a large area, which was so important on this project,” Jimmy Tan commented.

Seamless integration

Leica Cyclone REGISTER was used to register, manage and process the point cloud data. As one of the largest Scan-To-BIM projects produced in Singapore, the scans amounted up to 1 terabyte of data. The total area scanned to produce the BIM model for Changi Airport Terminal 2 covered two layers – the ground and also the ceiling area for the Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) information. Overall, more than 23,000 scans were setup to create the BIM model to LOD300 for Architecture & Structural and LOD200 for MEP. Using Leica Geosystems integrated scanning solutions, JTRS was able to handle this volume of data whilst maintaining stability.

Cyclone REGISTER’s visual alignment not only mitigated the need to place targets on walls to align but also allowed JTRS to manage tens of thousands of scans in a single registration. The ease with which these scans could be positioned based on common geometry further accelerated the modelling process. Thanks to the high-contrast visualised point cloud, the vast number of scans could easily be overlaid to create the mesh from which the BIM is constructed.

Having completed the 3D laser scanning and merging of the scans, the point clouds could then be exported into Leica JetStream. Changi Airport Group and system owners could then view the point clouds, make a walkthrough path and take further measurements from the digital model.

Jimmy Tan noted, “The software integration was absolutely seamless. Once we had exported the data in the correct format, it could then interface with multiple other software platforms such as Revit. The output could then be tailored according to the needs of the client (CAG).

Normally processing the data integration of such a huge scan would be very time-consuming but using the Leica CloudWorx plugin the team were able to integrate all the point clouds into Revit saving up to 40% of time in building the BIM model.”


Delivering enduring value

“Efficiency was vital in such a vast project and we could not afford to lose time training the team or addressing technical challenges. Whilst the ease of use of both hardware and the software required minimal training, the Leica Geosystems team provided full support from start to end.

From a surveyor’s perspective, we have been particularly impressed with the cost-value of Leica Geosystems solution. We have been using equipment like the DNA03 digital level for over 10 years and it is still in perfect condition. However, the greatest value is the output we have generated for the client (CAG) here as the digital model can now be used for years - even decades to come,” concluded Jimmy Tan.

Changi Airport’s reputation as the world’s leading airport can also be credited to its focus not just on functionality, but also on aesthetics. The use of the 3D laser scanners enabled JTRS to capture even detailed image data incorporating the onboard colour and texture mapping without disrupting the constant flow of passengers in one of the world’s busiest airport.

The BIM model augmented missing design data and created a data-rich connected workflow, enabling CAG and future contractors to explore and experiment with plans and designs for the airport even without entering the facility – helping Changi Airport to retain its reputation as the world’s best airport.

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