Many of South Africa’s assets have outdated or missing records and without accessible data, professional teams are hamstrung at the outset of projects, having to make assumptions about the layout, composition and condition of facilities.
Surveying buildings is a time-consuming activity, often not budgeted for in the early stages of a project’s start-up. All too often the professional teams rely on educated guesswork and one or two site visits with photographs to formulate their initial project proposals.
“When we execute engineering projects, we rely on comprehensive base data,” stresses Zutari Digital Practice lead, Richard Matchett. “Projects that involve existing structures and facilities require accurate records of existing conditions. Without proper data, our designs cannot be founded on fact. Zutari has met the challenge head on by investing significant time and resources investigating various technological approaches to capture site data in digitised form, using virtual environments to assess and understand those spaces in a scientific, integrated manner.”
This resulted in the recent acquisition of the Leica BLK2GO handheld imaging laser scanner, believed to be one of only two available in South Africa at present. The scanner is an example of an innovative technology known as simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM), which is based on an algorithm that combines laser technology with photogrammetry and data from movement sensors. The handheld laser device contains the scanner, cameras and movement sensors in a single package. When the scanner is carried through an environment, it records measurements in all directions to accumulate a 3D picture.
This 3D laser-scanning offering has proven invaluable in mapping indoor spaces to sub-millimetre tolerances, giving designers confidence that their designs are relevant to the actual site, there have been notable gaps.
These include spaces where layouts are needed quickly, or complex layouts where the interaction between adjacent and interconnected spaces has to be understood in a timeframe too brief to undertake conventional 3D scanning.
“We tested a variety of these scanners and were most impressed by the functionality of the SLAM system to enable rapid collection of data, which we used to extract floorplans, calculate volumetric spaces and locate plant and equipment in buildings, all as part of our hands-on testing of the available options,” concludes Matchett. “We believe this the right tool for the job, testimony to our confidence in the use of technology and our dedication to harnessing digital innovation to augment our engineering skills in the real world.”
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