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Field Layout Insights     Mar 14, 24

7 Best Practices to Reduce Cost With 3D Laser Scanning

A 3D laser scanner can bring many benefits to construction projects, but it constitutes a significant investment. Some activities, like scanning unnecessary elements or incompatible file types, increase utilization costs. You could also reduce your return on investment (ROI) by overlooking the valuable capabilities of 3D laser scanning in construction.

If you want to reap the benefits of 3D laser scanning without going overboard on expenses, you'll need to abide by some best practices for use.

The Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning for Construction

3D scanning can help at all stages of a construction project, from planning to building maintenance, however, maximizing ROI depends on whether you use the technology to its fullest potential or not. Contractors and construction companies often use it for tasks like:
  • Surveying the existing condition of the job site to inform the design.
  • Validating the build and specific systems during construction installation.
  • Enabling re-coordination of systems upon improper work in place.
  • Simulating potential changes to avoid conflicts or spot errors.
  • Generating robust documentation and records for future use, like building maintenance.

With these diverse capabilities, the benefits of 3D laser scanning include limiting rework and overhead and creating a better client experience that boosts the value of your services. For example, you might use it to complete more projects on time, stay under budget or streamline communications.

How to Use 3D Laser Scanning to Reduce Project Costs

If you're considering a 3D laser scanner or already have one, keep the following best practices in mind to maximize your ROI.

1. Use Your 3D Data in Planning and Project Management

3D scanning data can provide consistency and accuracy across these project phases. You can use scan data along with 3D models of the building and the site to see the whole picture and spot design flaws or sequencing issues that could impact your costs or timeline.

Some examples of how your 3D data can support planning include:

  • Clash detection: Compare design models with 3D scanning data to identify potential clashes or conflicts between systems and structures. Early detection can help you avoid costly rework or delays.
  • Quality assurance and progress monitoring: Regular scans throughout a project can help you ensure the build matches the drawings and specifications which will help you promptly address any issues before they become more expensive to fix.
  • Quantity takeoffs: Better measurements and planning support improved quantity takeoff calculations. You can create more predictable estimations to optimize purchasing and reduce waste.

Keep 3D scanning requirements in mind during planning. For example, determine how frequently you want scans performed and the operating costs of those activities. Clear insights on your scanning needs can help you optimize them and reduce unnecessary activities.

2. Limit the Complexity of Your Scans

One example of those unnecessary activities is scanning elements you don't need. The more complex your scan, the more it costs to collect due to additional wasted time. Evaluate the necessity of different components in your 3D scan and trim down unnecessary ones.

You can also simplify and streamline scanning by using the right setting of scan density. Sometimes you may need a high level of density to capture details far away, however, this can significantly increase the size of the scan file. This can be mitigated by scanning smaller areas with a lower scan density which will result in faster scan times and smaller file sizes to transfer and work with later.

If you haven't purchased a system yet, consider the details needed in your scans. Buying a scanner that offers much more precision and accuracy than you really need can also increase unnecessary costs.

3. Compare Renting vs. Buying

Not sure if 3D laser scanning is worth it for your company? Consider renting a 3D scanner. Renting might be a good option if:

  • You're unsure about buying a scanner.
  • You have a tight budget.
  • You need one infrequently.
  • You want to test drive a specific model before investing.

Perform some calculations, like a capital investment analysis, to compare the costs of buying vs. renting.

4. Increase Your Project's Value With Supporting Files


The files you create from 3D scanning can provide additional value for your clients beyond the initial build. During the process, you create robust documentation and records they can use for tasks like building maintenance, repairs and renovations. This extra data offers details that can streamline future activities and reduce costs.

Ultimately, this information boosts the value of your services and can help you earn more on bids while increasing customer satisfaction.

5. Use 3D Models to Boost Visualization and Communication

3D models provide clear, easy-to-understand visuals for everyone on the team. Regular scans are particularly helpful for remote teams, allowing off-site partners to visualize changes accurately and in a timely manner.

Share your files with stakeholders via web-based platforms like Trimble Connect to strengthen communication and keep everyone on the same page. A transparent approach can help reduce miscommunications and streamline discussions for efficient and effective project management.

6. Support Lean Construction Options

Lean construction relies on good planning and collaboration, and 3D laser scanning excels in these areas. Many of the concepts we've already discussed can help you incorporate 3D scans in lean construction efforts. For instance, using them to guide project management can help with streamlined planning, while shared data improves collaboration.

3D scanning also helps optimize areas like material purchasing and site planning, helping you reduce waste and work more efficiently. With the rising demand for sustainable building practices and their positive effects on the planet, reducing waste is an excellent way to use 3D laser scanning technology.

7. Establish Quality Support Services and Training

Technical issues and equipment failure can significantly affect your ROI, so having access to good support is essential. Ensure you have a reliable partner for these tasks to help you maximize uptime and keep delays at bay. Inadequate training for technicians can also cause problems, as they might have more problems operating the equipment or using its features productively.

Remember to maintain and calibrate your instruments regularly to keep them in top shape and optimize their value.


Make the Most of Your 3D Laser Scanning With BuildingPoint SouthEast

The ROI of 3D laser scanning depends on how you use it. Try adding these strategies to your workflow to maximize your 3D laser scanner's financial impact.

Construction teams across the southeast United States turn to BuildingPoint SouthEast for their 3D laser scanning solutions. We're a trusted Trimble authorized partner, combining an expert support team with industry-leading technology. With equipment sales, rentals, software solutions, training and service, we're your one-stop shop for intelligent construction systems.

Reach out to request a quote and learn more about how BuildingPoint SouthEast can help you boost the ROI of 3D scanning.