Posts Tagged BIM
Building on my earlier SLAM post, we’ve been utilizing the combination of SLAM and PKNail Pro to great success. Recently we completed over 300,000 SF of office tower in Wilmington, DE with the total time on site coming in just under 12 hours, yes that’s right 12 hours. The scope of the project included BOMA reporting and CAD, and while the parking garages were not initially part of the scope, we walked the garage with SLAM so had a 3D database in case it was needed in the future, and in this case, it was needed in less than a week and we did not need to revisit the site, saving the client both time and money.
Process: Walk each floor with SLAM, create 3D database by floor. Build out interiors, sample floor, with PKNail Pro, capturing typical window assemblies, doors, plumbing objects, wall thicknesses. Back office included the combination of surveying data, creating spaces within Revit and exporting both spreadsheet data, CAD and plotted floor plans.
SLAM technology. SLAM, besides sounding rather cools stands for ( Simultaneous Localization and Mapping). And this is is an evolution in the creation of point clouds. Why? SLAM technology allows a user to walk through space, and in essence, create a continuous point cloud of an entire space. Previous technologies require a machine to be placed on a tripod, and continually set up in different locations. To get a full ‘picture’ of whatever you are scanning separate scans have to be ‘stitched’ together, which is not as automated a process as you might imagine. While Leica continues it onslaught of proprietary products and continuous scanning with its Pegasus systems, SLAM is based on open standards and researched extensively through the robotics industry. Off the shelf technology in the form of Hitachi Lasers, Rasberry Pi Processors and the like will start to open up new devices and allow new manufacturers to enter what has been a highly technical and closed field.
While SLAM devices do not have the high fidelity of HDLS, it does allow for some pretty excellent data collection that is typically at a level needed for most building documentation, leaving highly specific / detailed tasks for the more heavyweight scanners, think exposed and extensive MEP, physical plans, historic documentation/reconstruction. Personally, using SLAM devices in combination with our PKNail Pro allows us to move through spaces quickly, efficiently, accurately capturing building geometry with both systems and creating dimensionally accurate Revit objects on the fly with PKNail Pro. This allows us to get in and out of space with minimal interruptions, and allows for quick turn around which is great for building owners/investors through due diligence, BOMA calculations or looking to repurpose/reprogram a building. Recently, we were in and out of 300,000SF of tower in Wilmington Delaware in less than 36 hours.
While SLAM allows for the quick collection of data, interpreting, understanding the data and turning the data into usable documentation still remains very much a craft process. Too many times I have seen a product, such as a Revit model, turned out by groups who fail to understand how building are put together and designed which eventually turns into a product that confuses and confounds the people/architects who need to use it. In the next post I hope to dive into this process vs. product a bit deeper.
Pointknown was tasked with capturing Ocean Spray’s HQ, over 160,000 SF of Office Space and Labs over 3 Floors set on hundreds of acres of woods and bogs in Lakeville, MA. Because of the nature of the building and deliverable we were able to capture the bulk of the features and geometry directly with PKNail Pro, allowing us to measure and model in real time in the field. Interior Wall Partitioning, Bathroom Layouts, Windows and Doors. After the geometry was completed we placed the acoustical tile grids, and placed objects directly with the Revit interface.
For surveying and documenting buildings having a set of tools allows a provider to offer the right solution set to your clients. Not everything’s a nail so carry more than a hammer. We first developed PKNail Pro because we needed another tool set in the field, and started offering it commercially because clients asked us if we would provide it. Does it do everything, no; it was intended and designed to capture typical conditions very well, and quickly by turning measurements directly into Revit based objects, walls, windows doors, locate / place wall based objects from plumbing to electrical to fire protection and it does that very well.
Quote of the Project Upon Early Arrival and Hearing Barking/Howling: “No…those aren’t dogs, those are coyotes.”
Location : Amherst, MA (University of Massachusetts)
Client : Finegold Alexander
Interioreview / PointKnown was hired to survey/document and create an Architectural Revit model using generic components to accurate represent the building. Accurately locate and model interior timbers, chapel and steeple. Include all classrooms and offices.
Hardware : Faro 330 : Disto D8
Software: Autodesk Revit : PointKnown PKNail Pro
Scan and register pointcloud for exterior, chapel and timbers. Import pointcloud to Revit model architectural objects included in the scan. Measure and Build direct to Revit using PKNail Pro, extents of building footprint for quality control to compare with pointcloud data, and measure and model all rooms, offices, and classrooms. Include Kitchen and Bathroom layouts as they occur through out the building using PKNail Pro to place all wall based objects (Toilets, Urinals, Sinks..)
PointKnown Captures Existing Buildings
Software / Services / Consulting
I recently was invited to present for an IFMA Technology Council Webinar (Link to Deck Here). Both Carlos Vasquez from Epic Scan, the other presenter , and myself had come both mostly to the same conclusions having never met and working on two different coasts. “It really is the wild west out there.” For instance, there are no standards on deliverables or when putting out an RFP for this kind of work. Plus, there are a lot of people out there buying scanners and saying they can do everything that comes in the literature with the hardware. However, owning a piece of hardware and being competent at it are two vastly different things. Just because I own a pair of skates doesn’t mean I can get on the ice with the Rangers. Plus, if the firm you are hiring only has one piece of hardware expect that the quote you get will be one size fits all.
My approach to any given job is to have a detailed conversation with whoever is going to use the Revit Model or Data and what they need it for. For example, an owner doing due diligence on a property has vastly different need and budget then an architectural firm doing an adaptive reuse project on 200,000 SF of Industrial Mill Space. So we tailor the project and technology around their needs and budget. I would argue that an owner look at each project and start with the minimal viable product (MVP) or data set they need and then add details as the project warrants. With that said the base line product should still be solid. For example, we might be asked to come in to verify square footages of a building during due diligence. This is to make certain that the prospective owner has faith that the marketed 100,000 SF actually is 100,000 SF of rentable space. This might just require us to get the shell and cores correctly. But be certain that is done well enough so if going forward we need to add the mechanical plant, or interior partitioning, etc. we have a good foundation to start from.
If you are looking to document your building for almost any stage, due diligence, BOMA calculations, Interior Design, Adaptive Reuse there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
• Size and Complexity of the Project
• Deadlines and Time Constraints
• Budget and Available Resources
• Uses for Models
and when choosing a vendor or service provider…get references, see if they have done similar projects, ask them about their process and their technology. When done right having a model or your building documented properly, accurately pays dividends many times over, when done wrong it has Excedrin written all over it.
The jigsaw pieces are starting to fill in with google’s Project Tango , and the structure.io sensor. Capturing existing buildings has never been an easy task, as much as the purveyors of existing scanners would like you to believe otherwise. Current laser scanners are expensive and the process was usually too much, too much effort, too much expense for most projects. Additionally, since the entry price was so expensive and each scanner has its own proprietary software, lack of open standards slowed innovation; but here comes handheld devices starting at around $400, and an open source universe that lets a universe of people to start working on current problems. Paracosm working with Project Tango looks like it has come up with a crowd sourced platform to put together fuller models of buildings from multiple people/scanners.
From the videos and data, and although everyone admits it’s early. A regular Joe can walk with a handheld scanning device and capture their world. Allowing for the crowd sourced, user generated 3D mapping of the world. Besides the eery feeling that the Matrix was more prophetic than fiction what can be done with all this cool stuff, what’s next?
It will be in the processing of this data and digestion of it that will make it launch to the next steps. Typically the hurdle of laser scanning is going from scanned data, to data that people can use. Think of scanning this stuff….cool. To floorplans and 3D walk throughs for realtors. So if a realtor can take a $300 handheld scanner, walk around a home or apartment, and have it simply turned into a walk through tour and dimensioned floor plans of a home, excellent. Share those floorplans with a carpet installer for a price, great.
Before scans and point clouds were expensive to attain it looks like the price is about to drop dramatically. Dramatic price drop, easier to attain, increased supply. Increased supply, bigger market. Bigger market, more people. More people, more better. We are just at the start. There will be a lot of companies starting to fill in ways on how to capture and deal with this data and since the world spends about $8 trillion on construction alone there will be room for players. You’re invited.
So with Google announcement of Project Genie : Vannevar Technologies and with IBM opening Watson to the programming community one has to believe that deep analytics is coming to the AEC industry. Not silo attempts by industry leaders. It’s got to get easier to run energy analytics, design options, facility management…integrated in a way that is push button easy, and as anyone in the industry can attest we are still far from push button easy. However, getting thousands of people, the collective intelligence of the programming community solving problems. Getting data centralized, performance feedback, learning from that virtuous circle, that is exciting stuff.
Data is the foundation of all of this, without the data, we have nothing to run with. For the AEC environment, it’s the building whether it’s in the design phase, or most likely, already operating. How long will the data reside in proprietary formats? How long is that a viable business model? We will see that companies that can provide the most value with the data start to thrive. Hence the opening up of Watson as a platform and the fact that Google is coming to the AEC marketplace shows there is some seismic shifts in store. I’ve written before that getting the AEC crowd to change their stripes, adopt new technologies, can be difficult, however it’s really going to be Autodesk 360, and what they can offer you in house vs. the world. There has been talk of the ICFxml gbXML or ways to have BIMs in an open environment. This may very well be the tipping point.
There seems to be little known about what’s going on at this century’s Xerox PARC, Google X and it’s Project Genie, but a small amount of information was unveiled at ArchDaily. Google’s commitment to sustainability is apparently going to reach into the AEC industry and possibly trample into Autodesk’s campsite. While other software firms are hampered by their own internal growth and sales and what they can commit to marketing, (Autodesk wins there) and R & D. The folks at google, know no such bounds. The spinoff Vannevar Technology (which sounds suspiciously close to Vandelay Industries,) is working on creating…..who knows. Their website states “Reimagining building design for a more sustainable future.” Which is about as exciting as the 5th slide in a time share deck. However, google has the clout and cash in what can be a very stubborn, hesitant to change,” what are you talking to me ” culture. Typically the principals in architecture firms don’t care about technology, they have minions to get it done so why invest in software or new tech when my current pricing, business structure, ROI formulas are working and set in stone, plus I don’t like business that much I like designing building so the less I get involved the better. Engineers will analyze and without comparable metrics to analyze, then…paralyze. Construction managers will embrace tech if it saves the time, which equals money, so time and money but they have to live with the consequences, so embracing new tech….tough crowd. Which is far from saying that things can’t be done better.
The small bit of copy on the web site rightly touts that buildings, yes buildings produce the most greenhouse gases, 40%, so what is google going to do about it? Systems, software, construction methods, materials, vertically integrate and go borg on the industry. My guess is whatever they do, they will be building some buildings with Vannevar Tech for proof of concept and case studies. My guess it’s got be some integrated design and FM system to produce tangible CO2 / greenhouse gas savings, plus energy savings. Some have guessed it might be a SketchUp on steroids, but then why did they sell it to Trimble. And who cares about the design process, what part of that is the current lifecycle of a building, very little, I’d want to own the building for most its life, it’s operating life, and want to own the management of it, and the data. There ya go, so then, IBM and Maixmo, meet google, you might know them. These are the crazy kids floating balloons for internet access.
Are laser scanners and their resulting pointclouds right for you and your project? As with all lists, it is simplified and of my opinion. Whether you want to trust my opinion, well that’s up to you, but my company Interioreview has, for over a decade, surveyed / drafted / modeled hundreds of buildings and starting in 2006 delivered Revit Models of existing buildings. My company, PointKnown, has created an Add-In to Revit that allows you capture and model buildings as you measure, in real time with a hand held laser. Now that I’ve blown my own horn here are my top 3 Myths:
It’s Foolproof and Error Free.
Wrong. I have not once received a model from a ‘pointcloud’ surveyor without dimensional errors in the model. Not once. Only because of our internal controls and surveying was I able to call out the errors and was not satisfied with other companies internal controls that the errors would have been found if my company had not found them. Such that we now will do all the modeling in house. Just because someone has a scanner does not mean they do it well.
it is concluded that features such as reflectivity, color, and brightness of the object surfaces have impact on the quality of the data, therefore, although 3D point cloud data is very useful it should be considered that the data can be sometimes irregular and corrupted and thus not exactly reflecting the features of the scanned object.
It’s Easy to Produce a Model From a Pointcloud.
Holy cow, no. How many technologies come into play to get a scan created, consolidated, registered, exported, modeled? First the hardware/scanner, whether it’s from Leica, Faro, whoever, they have their own software to manage the scan/cloud, and then you can export/import to Revit to use as a background to model over. You can use other technologies to help with this process such as Scan to BIM, or to cut portions of the pointcloud you can use ReCap, export to Autocad and re-import that data into Revit, etc. My point being there are a variety of methods to get from here to there but they are not necessarily consistent and have their strength and weaknesses, but you are using human power to make those decisions at each step. And then you are essentially using the pointcloud to ‘trace’ over. That is, you cut sections of the pointcloud in what ever view you are working in and trace over them. Has the person ‘modeling’ the building ever surveyed a building? Or have construction or architecture experience to know how a building should be put together. Does the architect really want to see a wall with a .08 degree deflection of wall off 90 degrees because it will create numerous amount of Revit errors, and was it really there or was the pointcloud interpreted incorrectly? There is no easy button.
It’s Cost Effective
Putting a scanning crew on site for a day is going to cost you between $3K-$4K typically, just to get the exterior of a building, with the pointcloud only, expect at least a 2 day buy in for between $6K and $8K, and that’s typically without going inside, and at the end you get the point cloud, not a Revit model. So a typical house, modeled from a point cloud, inside and out, best guess $8K-$10K. 12 Story Commercial Office Building, $50K+ and so on. Maybe that’s in your budget, but if so why? Why would you need to spend thousands of dollars to be told a room is square and has a 10′ ceiling?
Once dealing with the pointcloud, if you are dealing with it yourself, I hope you have a box/computer that is going to have a minimum of 16GB RAM, multicore XEON processor, etc. and ideally has a solid state drive, this is recommended by Autodesk for ‘pointcloud’ interactions.
You as a consumer of this data need to know what technologies are out there, your choices and their cost. I have seen circumstances and white papers where laser scanning pays dividends many times over, most consistently in existing exposed MEP intensive facilities, think utilities, drilling platforms, power-plants and the like where having a accurate representation of all that data can allow people to retrofit power-plants with few change orders or zero defects. Imagine an offshore construction platform that can lease for $100’s of thousands a day finishing early because of the accuracy of data, very good investment indeed even if it costs $200K to model it accurately. However, do you need that kind of data for a commercial building or an adaptive reuse project? How are you going to capture the interiors? There are methods to capture the built environment accurately for your needs without wasting money and effort.
Start with the simplest model you need, dimensionally accurate, volumetrically correct using whatever technology that gets you there cost effectively and with a level of confidence. Adding details to the model should be done dependent on scope and need. Power-plant of a building, you may want to bring in a scanner to model the piping package, etc. Accuracy of a historic structure that you may need to impact because of a project, sure scan it, but to scan an entire project is overkill in many circumstances no matter what you are told. Scan where you need details added. Know your options. Your tool box needs more than a hammer.
The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management meets this morning to discuss ‘Freezing the Federal Footprint’. This comes from an Office of Management and Budget memorandum that stated “ all Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act Executive Branch departments and agencies (agencies) shall not increase the total square footage of their domestic office and warehouse inventory compared to the FY 2012 baseline.”
The memorandum also states that “Each agency should work collaboratively with other agencies and GSA to find opportunities for smarter space usage through co-locations and consolidations.” Ha ha ha, woooha, maybe it doesn’t mean anything, and I can’t say how much power a memorandum has vs. an office action, vs. an order but certainly can effect those depending on the largess of the GSA for a living. One wonders if the GSA ever moved forward with the GSA BIM IDIQ, that could have given them a solid assessment of properties they have etc. BTW did anyone ever make a dime off that? I found out the hard way that getting the award and having it funded are tow different things, so I guess it looks good in a frame.