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Laser (Scanning) Focus

Laser (Scanning) Focus

TAI Engineering has used reality capture to verify design documents and 3D models.

TAI Engineering uses reality capture to compete and win new business.

TAI Engineering provides a complete range of engineering, management, and technical services to clients in the industrial, manufacturing, and buildings and facilities sectors. The firm employs more than 175 professionals who work in its corporate headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., as well as in regional offices in Illinois, Texas, Delaware, and in its fabrication and field services facility located in Linthicum, Md.

As a prosperous mid-sized business, TAI Engineering’s management team is always looking for new ways to compete and win additional business.

In 2016, TAI Engineering received a request for proposal from a large client that included 3D imaging services. As part of the project, the company requested a 3D rendering that would show how a facility roof would look in terms of piping and means of egress after the design work was completed. The TAI team had limited experience with reality capture technologies and contacted IMAGINiT Technologies to discuss various options.

Proof of concept

Rather than immediately investing in 3D laser scanning equipment, TAI decided to partner with IMAGINiT on a reality capture proof of concept to ensure that it could deliver a return on investment. During the proof of concept, IMAGINiT’s reality capture experts worked side-by-side with the TAI team to scan and process the data from the client site. TAI Engineering incorporated the proof of concept into its bid and won the client’s business.

“The proof of concept opened our eyes,” said Alan Miller, principal and director of projects and business development at TAI Engineering. “The speed with which we could gather data and the accuracy of the data collected helped us see the possibilities and potential uses of reality capture. We realized that 3D laser scanning would be a cost-effective means for capturing field data for our drawings.”

Based on the successful proof of concept, TAI Engineering decided to purchase its own 3D laser scanning hardware. “Since our firm does a lot of small and mid-sized projects, it made sense to purchase a scanner. It gives us greater flexibility to meet client deadlines,” Miller said. Although the team considered other vendors, TAI elected to purchase the equipment from IMAGINiT.

TAI Engineering is already seeing direct gains from having reality capture technology. Rather than sending multiple people into the field with handheld lasers, tape measures and cameras, the firm can send a single person with the scanner and collect highly accurate field data. Thanks to training delivered by IMAGINiT, TAI Engineering now has four people skilled at field scanning and who understand how to manipulate the resulting data.

On a recent construction project, a client asked TAI Engineering to verify the design documents and 3D model created by another firm. By scanning the building site, TAI could ensure the tie-in points for prefabricated pipes were in the right place.

“We scanned the site at the beginning of the construction process and then scanned again later,” Miller said. “Our isometric drawings now match the field. By incorporating scanning into the process, we save construction and field time by avoiding field welding.”

Leveraging reality capture to expand the business

TAI Engineering views reality capture and 3D laser scanning as central to its operations. According to Miller, more and more competitors are using laser scanning and it will soon become the standard way to gather field data for all size engineering firms. TAI now uses laser scanning on almost every project, instead of other measuring devices. This approach saves time, while providing accurate drawings and installations.

Reality capture is also becoming an essential part of TAI’s business development efforts. Data from laser scanning makes it possible for TAI to create visualizations quickly for clients. In addition, the firm is actively working on expanding its business to new sectors.

“This new technology and equipment is one of the primary ways that we are increasing our presence in new markets,” Miller said.

Information provided by IMAGINiT Technologies (www.imaginit.com), a Rand Worldwide Company that provides enterprise solutions to the engineering community, including the building, manufacturing, civil, and mapping industries.