The Human Side of LiDAR Scanning

Evaluating and Preparing for 3D Laser Scanning Projects

You love scanning. You get the big picture of the efficiencies LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanning provides when there are no clear existing condition drawings available. Your client wants the best information in the fastest and most accurate fashion so the renovation project can start with confidence.

Initial conversations with your client cover the essentials of scope, level of detail required, location, dates and times the project site is accessible for scanning. You do site research and package your project quote with agreements, etc. Once the scan is approved to proceed, a plan is made for the scanning session(s). You arrive at the scan project site, meet your contact, begin setting up control points, and then the questions start.

Identify the Site Contacts

If the site contact is your client, no problem. You will be underway quickly. However, if the site contact is an owner or occupant, the experience can be different for both of you. Owner / occupants may not have knowledge of the scanning process. And, they are entitled to ask questions since they are covering the expense.

Common questions regarding laser scanning use on site

  • Is laser scanning safe?
    The answer is “yes” and well-documented. LiDAR scanners uses a Class 1 laser which is safe under all conditions of normal use. The maximum permissible exposure (MPE) cannot be exceeded when viewing a laser with the naked eye, or with the aid of typical magnifying optics (e.g. telescope or microscope).
  • Can the laser see through walls?
    The quick answer is “no” with a quick explanation of how laser scanning captures the XYZ coordinates into a point cloud.
  • What are the objects being placed around the site?
    A follow on to the previous question and easily explained. Control points assist with connecting multiple scans to create a complete 3D image for 3D modeling or 2D CAD drawings.

Inhabited Site Scans

The conditions you find in scan sites is diverse. You may find pets involved with inhabited sites which require additional planning to keep them away from the scanning equipment. It can also be a concern if you have pet allergies. Make sure you wear a mask and have allergy meds handy.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is recommended for most projects. Buildings can be filled with dust, mold, and other undesirable elements. Protect yourself – especially your lungs (mask), eyes (glasses/shields), head (helmet), and skin (long sleeves). The OSHA standards offer the best practices for health and safety. It is a good idea to establish a traveling bag specifically for your scanning outfit, similar to what you do for the scanner equipment.

Create a Checklist and be Prepared

With a little thought ahead of time, your scan project will run smoothly and provide time for any exceptions that may arise. Ask about on-site contacts and suggest a quick call where you can explain, or better yet, present visuals of the equipment and describe the process. It will allow them to make plans for a successful scan such as removing animals, and is essential for projects with a limited scan window.

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