Berkeley, Calif. — 3D Robotics, makers of Site Scan — a full-stack commercial drone platform — announced the launch of Building Information Modeling (BIM) capabilities within Site Scan. Construction is an $8 trillion industry with margins that regularly net less than 1 percent. The average construction project runs 80 percent over budget and 20 months behind schedule — primarily because the physical world of the construction site has, until now, been hard to reconcile with the digital world of virtual design.
Site Scan, the first end-to-end application offering fully autonomous drone image capture and seamless cloud integration with Autodesk, now offers construction industry professionals the ability to use a drone as a powerful BIM tool. Site Scan helps prevent rework, offers data that contractors can leverage to write change orders, and provides a positive return on investment often within days of deployment on a construction site.
Technology leaders like Autodesk have driven processes like BIM into the mainstream. The pace of technology adoption in the design and planning phase of construction, however, has far outpaced technology improvements in the field. For example, an engineer can run a ‘clash report’ in software like Navisworks, spotting issues when combining multiple designs, but until now there was no way to spot a clash between design and construction while actually building the project.
Cost overruns and delays occur when the realities of the physical world are out of alignment with the plans of the digital world. The missing link in field construction technology has been the integration of site-wide survey-grade imagery, perfectly overlaid with BIM design data. Site Scan helps to end construction delays, prevents the need for rework, accurately displays progress, and aids in defining change order requirements.
Preventing rework onsite
3D Robotics’ commercial drone platform Site Scan now with BIM project plan integration delivers a powerful set of features to digitize the construction site. Geared toward field leadership and supported by virtual construction managers, Site Scan provides perfectly overlaid design vector files with drone-captured orthomosaics. This empowers field managers to prevent costly mistakes and allows collaboration with VC team members who may not be physically on site.
During a beta of this Site Scan BIM functionality, a top 20 construction firm put the BIM feature to use on a large and complex commercial building project. Upon deploying Site Scan’s BIM technology, this firm was working through a vexing problem on site. After laying heating pipes required to prevent foundation freeze-thaw damage, it was clear to the site superintendent that the heating pipe was not positioned correctly relative to the foundation. For two days, the pipe laid uncovered and foundation work was put on hold, while engineers determined whether the pipe needed to be moved. By capturing accurate drone imagery and overlaying the design vectors, it instantly became clear what had occurred. The root cause was that the concrete footing had been over-poured, and the heating pipe had been relatively positioned to the over-poured footing. This was crucial in determining the action to take and ended the costly two-day freeze on foundation work. Preventing a third day of delay (or more) provided an ROI greater than the cost of Site Scan within the first day of use.
Another Site Scan customer, PCL Construction, has been using drones on early stage and pre-construction data measurement efforts. The Virtual Construction Manager in the Orlando office, Bill Bennington, is excited to be using these new features on projects today. Thinking back to some of the more complex project he’s worked on, “If we could have measured and monitored the excavation and underground utility installation (fire protection, storm pipe, water pipe), that would have saved us a substantial amount of time,” said Bennington. “It is more cost and time effective to quickly identify and resolve issues.”
3DR Site Scan with BIM processing capabilities brings construction design and planning into the real world by using daily scans conducted by drones to track each day’s progress. These real-time scans can then be overlaid upon original designs to identify building errors before they grow in cost and time, closing the model/site loop by introducing clash detection that no longer lives solely on a screen. Features of Site Scan with BIM processing capabilities that benefit virtual design construction managers and site operators include:
- Save and Refly Mission — Drone flight needs to be as simple as possible. With the new ‘Refly mission” button, individuals can do their regular check of an area for obstacles, set up the drone and tap one button to capture all the data they need. Data is then processed in the cloud with another single tap and available to team members both in the field and in the office.
- Design Overlays — While images themselves are helpful, adding the designs and plans as a layer helps a superintendent identify mistakes before they cause issues. Overlays can be printed out and shared in the field, displayed on an iPad at meetings led by the superintendents and stored for future record keeping.
- Ground Control Points — A prerequisite to overlaying vector data is accurately placed imagery. This has always been possible with Site Scan, but now Ground Control Point data can be entered by users. 3DR provides a detailed setup guide to help incorporate this step into initial survey collection contracts.
These features could not have been possible without the direct integration of Site Scan and Autodesk products. It delivers not just more data, but better data, thus erasing the need to budget and plan for anticipated conflict.
“3DR Site Scan is a powerful complement to BIM 360, Autodesk’s comprehensive BIM offering,” said Scott Reese, VP of cloud platforms at Autodesk. “Site Scan overlays high-resolution drone imagery with as-planned site information pulled from our BIM 360 tools, allowing customers to identify potential mistakes, end project delays and ultimately increase profitability. We are thrilled to see 3DR’s expanded use of Autodesk platforms and products.”