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Upgrading Facilities Management For Existing Buildings With Laser Scanning

Currently, the innovations offered by the BIM-era seem to be promoted mainly for new builds. With so much to be gained by incorporating BIM practices into facilities management for existing buildings, why is it that the industry is ‘dragging its feet?’

New Vs Existing

Facilities management depends upon the storing of data around assets and respective locations. For new build projects that are planned with BIM in mind, a full 3D model is almost always produced – but this process can be costly and impractical on existing buildings. Traditional data collection methods are also time-consuming, inefficient and costly. Both of these factors ultimately mean that facilities management practices are lacking for existing buildings. For the industry to grow, there needs to be a more effective solution that provides a high level of detail using a less costly process than producing a full model.

That’s where 3D laser scanning comes into its own, ready to transform the way that facilities management for existing buildings is carried out. With laser scanning, building owners can store critical information, measure dimensions and tag key assets – all without the added cost of producing a full 3D model.

Example – Sydney Opera House

When one of the most famous buildings in the world was determined to have poor facilities management processes that led to a yearly maintenance bill of £16.5 million ($30m AUD), the need for better FM practices became woefully apparent.

The opera house had no complete set of digital drawings or plans that included service changes made over the years. This lack of complete plan meant expensive, time-intensive repairs and poor maintenance cycles.

To change this, the entire building’s current practices were assessed and documented. Then, a BIM process was produced under a BIM for FM interface designed to link existing and future data together in a single, accessible place. A full data capture survey was carried out, and then incorporated with existing facility management processes.

Ultimately, the whole survey, modelling and subsequent integration process resulted in a more effective facilities management solution for Sydney Opera House, reducing costs and facilitating future renovation or repair work. It proved that one of the most famous existing facilities in the world benefitted from BIM practices – a great message for those looking to improve FM in their own existing properties.

Laser Scanning As A Cost-Saving Tool

While a full 3D model is desirable, we can cut the cost of data collection by utilising laser scanners, which collect millions of data points and can also produce imagery far more efficiently than traditional surveying methods. We produce a coloured point cloud that is high resolution, allowing a building owner to use a 3D viewer to oversee the scanned area as if they are there.

By using this image, the viewer can navigate through scans to measure dimensions and tag assets – creating a comprehensive scan without the expense of a full building modelling process, which typically looks like this:

● Full laser scan carried out on site
● Point cloud assembled and analysed
● Laser scans registered
● Creation of 3D models
● Population of 3D models with information to be used by facilities management
● Exporting the model into facilities management software and maintenance management systems.

By using 3D laser scanning as a solution for existing buildings, your process will instead look like:
● Laser scans carried out
● Point cloud assembled and analysed
● Exporting into software or existing management systems

This method also enables the linkage to an existing facilities management database – or facilitates the creation of a new one. By allowing an owner to build a complete dataset of their existing building, the facilities management process becomes far easier as assets can be quickly identified, tagged and stored for future inspection.

The Benefits Of Laser Scanning For FM

Using laser scanners to create a point cloud that is then incorporated with FM systems means you get to enjoy an enhanced level of information and detail. This will result in time and cost savings and allow you to manage assets in a method that is far superior to traditional practices.

Realistically, the only thing holding back FM for existing buildings is fear of change and price of new technologies. But with laser scanning, you can cut down on the cost typically associated with a full BIM process whilst benefitting from the same advantages a 3D model offers.

Ultimately, using laser scanning makes facilities management easier – giving building owners a comprehensive view of their facility without the added cost of a full BIM-model. Better still, if a full BIM-model becomes necessary at a later date, the point cloud data assembled by laser scanners can be used, eliminating any need for a new survey and thereby saving time and money.

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