3D Laser Scanning Frequently Asked Questions

3D laser scanning is the best method to capture precise measurements and aboveground details of a project site. 3D laser scanning uses LiDAR technology to quickly record the existing conditions of a building, site, or facility in the form of a point cloud. The precise details of the exterior and interior of buildings, foundations, structure, piping, and equipment are captured with millimeter accuracy, delivering exact building dimensions, locations, and layouts. Below are some frequently asked questions about 3D laser scanning.

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What is 3D laser scanning?

3d laser scanners use LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to measure and record precise locations and distances, ultimately producing a point cloud file. The technology enables you to produce highly accurate digital measurements and images quickly and easily for use in construction and engineering projects. 3d laser scanning is a revolutionary tool to document existing conditions. It is invaluable in design, prefabrication, asset management, and facility modifications.

Is GPRS an Experienced Company?

GPRS is one of the industry’s most experienced 3D laser scanning service. GPRS has provided laser scanning and modeling services for clients in many industries and can quickly mobilize to any site in the United States. We have worked with some of the best-known firms and companies scanning manufacturing and industrial facilities, oil and gas refineries, historic buildings, stadiums, theatres, hospitals, universities, municipalities, waste water treatment facilities and more – even new construction verifications. We are a licensed engineering firm that focuses solely on laser scanning. Our team of in-house scan technicians and engineers work with each client to develop an accurate understanding of the existing conditions and create custom deliverables, ranging from point clouds to 2D drawings and 3D models.

What are the benefits of laser scanning?

  • Millions of real-world data points—A single laser can capture up to a million 3D data points per second, providing incredibly rich detail of every aspect of your project.
  • Eliminate error—Individual measurements acquired by tape measures or hand-held devices are subject to errors. Laser scanning is the most accurate form of measurement available, delivering accuracy of a few millimeters or less.
  • Answers unanticipated questions—How many times have you left the job site only to discover you need a few more measurements? A 3D BIM scanning will capture extra data, eliminating the need to return to the project to answer unanticipated questions.
  • Reduce change orders and waste—The cost of a laser scan pales in comparison to the cost of change orders and construction delays. Incorporating a laser scan into the design of your project assures accurate and complete information, avoiding costly headaches, clashes and wasted material during the construction phase.
  • Minimize shut-down times—Laser scanning is quick, safe and non-intrusive – eliminating or minimizing operational shut downs and client inconvenience.
  • Increase safety—3D scanning can obtain measurements in hazardous locations while keeping workers out of harm’s way.

How do I request a quote?

At GPRS, our objective is to capture, analyze, and define the data accurately and efficiently, delivering it the way that you want it. We will need several pieces of information to provide a cost for your job. We know that your time is important, so we will work with you individually to provide you a quote quickly. Both the amount of time and number of scans required depends in part on the structure itself, on the number of levels or rooms, square footage, and whether or not the space is occupied (with people, furniture, fixtures, etc.).

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Why Choose GPRS?

Many of our clients are relatively new to laser surveying, so we offer comfort and assurance by walking them through the entire process, from pre-planning to the final deliverables. We believe this is why we have had the opportunity to work with some of the best known firms and institutions in the United States.

We know that you have other options when it comes to laser scanning—renting or buying equipment or using a competitor. However, GPRS offers our clients what many of the other options cannot. Among the many reasons to choose GPRS are:

  • Cutting-edge technology—GPRS uses the latest technology, equipment, and software.
  • Industry trends—Laser scanning is a relatively new technology and, like so many other technologies, the industry changes quickly. Because GPRS uses the technology on a daily basis and because it is our sole specialty, we keep up to date on the trends in the field. Our clients can then focus on their core competencies.
  • Training—Not only do GPRS technicians receive formal training directly from the scanner manufacturer, but they also receive thorough instruction from an experienced in-house technician. Furthermore, because our team of professionals are devoted solely to scanning and processing the scan data, we have developed the processes to work quickly, accurately, and knowledgably.
  • Expertise—To each project, our GPRS team brings combined expertise in many areas, including engineering, architecture, information technology, and construction. Having this combination of knowledge is integral to providing our clients with the best service and optimal deliverables.
  • Professional support—Since our scan technicians spend most of their time in the field completing building scanning, we have a trained office support team that is available to assist clients with questions and other information.
  • Client-focused approach— We pride ourselves not only in listening to our clients' requests but also in anticipating their needs in ways that allow us to offer ideas and add value to our service.

What is as built documentation?

As built 3d documentation is an accurate set of drawings for a project. They reflect all changes made in during the construction process and show the exact dimensions, geometry, and location of all elements of the work.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR is a remote sensing method used to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of an object and its surface characteristics. Much like radar systems that employ radio waves to measure objects, LiDAR uses lasers to calculate the distance of objects with light pulses from 3D laser scanners, gathering 3D information about an object.

What is BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is more than just a 3D model. 3D BIM scanning gives engineers the ability to manage the building data throughout its whole life-cycle. It provides accurate spatial relationships and manufacturer details, as well as geographic information and other pertinent aspects of the building.

What is High Definition Scanning?

GPRS offers high-definition 3D laser scanning for accurately capturing 3-dimensional data in a wide variety of settings, from laser scanning buildings to hospitals or universities to refineries, regardless of size and surface features. We can survey large-scale structures providing you with high definition 3D data quickly. High definition surveying is ideal for digitizing as-built construction and proposed additions or reconstructions. It can also be used to survey large projects during construction, to make sure the design is being executed properly.

What is SLAM?

SLAM stands for Simultaneous Localization And Mapping. SLAM's purpose is to move through a given space to create a digital map of that space that users can refer to.

For a better understanding, let's break down the term. Localization is to find the location of an object with reference to its surroundings. Mapping is to map the layout and framework of the environment.

In 3d scanning, a SLAM algorithm uses the LiDAR sensor to track a precise estimate of the point cloud scanner’s position as it moves through a space. The mapping software, in turn, uses this data to align your point cloud properly in space.

Cost of laser scanning vs. the cost of traditional means to "As-Built" a site?

Weighing the benefits of laser scanning versus using traditional means to “as-built” a site:

  • Safer— Eliminates the need for lifts, safety harnesses, etc.
  • Faster— Less people are required and more area can be covered.
  • Reduces costs— Associated with field trips to gather initial information or additional details that were missed originally.
  • Saves time— Eliminate time out of the office when you could be doing other things while the scanning is being done.
  • Saves money— Travel costs, rental of man lifts, inaccuracy of obtaining data and loss of productivity in the office while technicians are in the field.
  • Streamlines work-flow— When the client receives the deliverables, they are ready to begin their work immediately.

What industries does GPRS serve?

  • GPRS has become a trusted partner to hundreds of clients for 3D laser scanning and modeling services. Our team works with integrity, passion and professionalism, upholding the highest standards in 3D laser scanning and modeling services. The foundation of our company’s success revolves around servicing the client. We work closely with every client to deliver the highest quality point clouds, 2D CAD drawings and 3D BIM models. We offer dynamic 3D laser scanning solutions to the following industries:
  • -
  • Architecture, Engineering, Design, and Construction
  • Commercial, Retail and Office Buildings
  • Concrete Construction
  • Education, Schools & Universities
  • Energy & Utilities
  • Government, Defense, Space and Aeronautics
  • Historical Documentation and Preservation
  • Hospital, Health Care and Pharmaceutical Facilities
  • Hospitality & Recreation
  • Industrial Facilities, Manufacturing Facilities, and Automotive Facilities
  • Mechanical Rooms
  • Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality, Reality Capture and Projection Mapping
  • Movies, CGI, Sets & Stages
  • Multimedia and Entertainment
  • Oil and Gas, Refineries, Chemical and Petrochemical Plants
  • Overhead Clearances
  • Process and Power Plants
  • Schools and Universities
  • Stadiums, Arenas and Theatres
  • Telecommunications and Transmission Lines
  • Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants
  • 3D Game Development and Software Development
  • Accident Reconstruction and Incident Scenes
  • Agricultural Facilities, Agricultural Cooperatives, Grain Facilities & Ethanol Plants
  • Archeological Sites, Statues and Monuments
  • Special Applications & Analysis

What is the difference between LIDAR (time-of-flight) and Phase-based scanning?

LIDAR stands for Laser Imaging, Detection, and Ranging (commonly called Light Detection and Ranging). LIDAR is based on a principle referred to as time-of-flight, which uses a pulsed laser that emits the beam, a mirror that deflects the beam towards the scan area, and an optical receiver which detects the laser pulse and reflects it back to the scanner from the object. Time-of-flight refers to using the known speed of light with the amount of time it takes the laser pulse to be emitted, bounce off of an object, and return to the scanner to determine the distance the object is from the scanner (Distance = (Speed of Light x Time of Flight) / 2). LIDAR scanning collects data at a slower rate than phase-based scanners but is able to be used at greater distances than phase-based scanners.

Phase-based scanners emit a constant laser beam into multiple phases and compare the phase shifts of the returned laser energy. The scanner then uses phase-shift algorithms to determine the distance, based on the unique properties of each individual phase (Time of Flight = Phase Shift / (2π x Modulation Frequency)). Although phase-based scanners collect data at a much high rate than time-of-flight scanners, their effective distance is much shorter. Additionally, phase-based scanners tend to have more "noise," or false data, than time-of-flight scanners.

What if my project is limited within the physical setting?

Some projects require special applications due to limitations within the physical setting. Often times this is due to line-of-sight issues and when a scan must be done safely from the ground or with precautionary distance. Some of these applications would include above-ceiling MEP features in hospitals where it is necessary to maintain negative airflow or interstitial spaces that are congested with limited access. Since laser scanning is a non-contact measurement tool (i.e. we can scan from a safe distance or location) this becomes a powerful tool for solving these complex challenges.

Is nationwide service available?

GPRS's clients range from small companies to large nationwide or global firms. GPRS is ready to mobilize to any site in the U.S., usually within the lead time of only one or two days. Additionally, we have the ability to be on-site short-term or long-term, depending on our clients' needs. We are the #1 provider of 3D laser scanning services and 3D BIM modeling services.

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What equipment will be used?

Data will be captured with industry-leading survey-grade Leica equipment. Leica ScanStations can tie to survey control, achieve 2-4mm accuracy and have real time liquid filled dual axis compensation to help mitigate movement and ensure level scans. GPRS scan technicians receive formal training from the scanner manufacturer, plus instruction from an experienced scan technician. Our laser scan technicians are highly trained on the following equipment:

  • Leica P50
  • Leica P40
  • Leica P20
  • Leica C10
  • Leica RTC360 3D Laser Scanner
  • Drone DJI Inspire 1 Pro Quadcopter
  • NavVis VLX

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What deliverables can we provide?

We can provide 3D modeling in many formats such as:

  • Point Cloud Data (Raw Data)
  • 2D CAD Drawings
  • 3D Non-Intelligent Models
  • 3D BIM Models
  • JetStream Viewer

Customizable Deliverables Upon Request

  • Aerial Photogrammetry
  • Comparative Analysis
  • Deformation Analysis
  • Digital Drawings of GPR Markings
  • Floor Flatness Analysis/Contour Mapping
  • New Construction Accuracy Analysis/Comparative Analysis
  • Point Cloud Modeling Training Webinars
  • Reconciliation of Clients 2D Design Drawings
  • Reconciliation of Clients 3D Design Model
  • Structural Steel Shape Probability Analysis
  • Template Modeling
  • Volume Calculations
  • Wall Plumb Analysis

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What software do we use?

Our engineers and CAD technicians are trained in the following software:

  • Autodesk Recap
  • Autodesk Revit
  • Autodesk 3DS Max
  • Autodesk Navisworks
  • Autodesk AutoCADCivil 3D
  • Autodesk AutoCAD Map 3D
  • Autodesk BIM 360
  • Autodesk A360
  • Autodesk Recap
  • AutoCAD
  • ArchiCAD
  • Bentley MicroStation
  • Bentley Descrates V8i
  • ClearEdge 3D Edgewise
  • Leica Cyclone
  • FARO As-Built
  • FARO Scene
  • Scene 2go
  • Scene Webshare
  • Navis Indoor Viewer
  • Cintoo
  • CloudCompare
  • Unreal Engine
  • FileZilla
  • ShareFile
  • Dropbox
  • Register 360
  • JetStream Viewer
  • TruView
  • NavVis Indoor Viewer

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Considering purchasing a LiDAR system?

It's important to consider the many costs above the purchase price of the scanner that exist including: qualified personnel, software, training, scanner calibration, and legal fees. Learn about the true costs of purchasing your own laser scanning equipment and the savings associated with hiring a qualified professional.

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Is 3D Laser Scanning Right for My Project?

Almost any project that requires as-built information can benefit from a laser scanning survey. Talk with our experts and start your 3D laser scanning survey project today.

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What is the Difference Between a Design Intent and As-Built Model?

DESIGN INTENT – deliverables will be shown as a "best fit" to the point cloud working within customary standards, such as walls being modeled 90 degrees perpendicular to the floor, pipes and conduit modeled straight, floors and ceilings modeled horizontal, and steel members modeled straight. This will produce cleaner 2D drawings and will allow for easier dimensioning of the scan area. The deliverables will not exactly follow the scan data to maintain design intent standards. The majority of clients will want this option for their deliverables.

AS-BUILTS – deliverables will be shown as close as possible to actual field capture. If walls are out of plumb, pipes and conduit show sag, floors and ceilings are unlevel, steel members show camber, etc., this will be reflected in the model. This will produce reality-capture deliverables, but 2D drawings may show “crooked” or out of plumb lines, floors will be sloped or contoured, steel members may show camber, twisting or impact damage. Dimensioning will not be as easy due being out of plumbness/levelness, etc. This option should be used when the exact conditions of the scan area is imperative. Clients using the data for fabrication, forensic analysis, bolt hole patterns, camber/sag/deformation analysis, and similar needs would require this option.

What is a digital twin?

A digital twin is highly complex virtual model that is the exact counterpart (or twin) of a physical object. GPRS uses 3D laser scanners to collect real-time data for a building or facility and create a digital duplicate. Data can be easily visualized, measured and analyzed. Digital twins can be used to improve efficiencies, optimize workflows and detect problems before they occur.

What is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in relation to laser scanning?

If you’re using laser scanning as part of your workflow, CAD technicians take point clouds and turn them into useful deliverables. Many software packages offer automated classification, or point grouping, or de-noising to quickly turn point cloud data to useful deliverables. In the industry of laser scanning, this process is called “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning”. Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to software that makes decisions or classifications that would have traditionally been made by humans, and machine learning refers to that software’s ability to get better at those tasks through repetition and training via human input and feedback.

What are your NAICS Codes, SIC Codes, CSI Codes, PSC and FSC codes?

GPRS 3D Laser Scanning Services falls in the following categories:

NAICS Codes:

  • 541370 Surveying and Mapping
  • 541330 Engineering Services
  • 541340 Drafting Services
  • 541690 Other Scientific and Technical Consulting Services

SIC Codes:

  • 87130000 Surveying Service

CSI Codes:

  • 2073 3D Laser Scanning and Dimensional Survey

PSC and FSC Codes:

  • C217 Mapping
  • C218 Architectural and Engineering Services
  • 1550 Drones
  • 6675 Drafting, Surveying and Mapping Instruments
  • R425 Engineering and Technical Services
  • R617 Data Collection Services