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Capturing Reality: Adapting technology to specific needs on the construction site

By Jared Christman | Oct 13, 2023
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In today’s data-driven world, reality capture is becoming an essential technology for streamlining electrical workflows, improving quality control and minimizing costly risks

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In today’s data-driven world, reality capture is becoming an essential technology for streamlining electrical workflows, improving quality control and minimizing costly risks. Reality capture is transforming electrical design by enabling unprecedented digital access to project visualization and data. 

With these digital tools, users can create workflows that enable monitoring anywhere, anytime that was not possible before. Project teams gain a holistic digital perspective that drives planning and connects remote teams. Everyone has access to a consistent visual reference, which increases transparency and accountability. Incorporating a reality capture workflow offers a competitive edge through a coordinated and predictable project execution.

How can this tech be used?

Using certain platforms, electrical contractors can remotely monitor construction sites with accuracy and efficiency using a 360-degree camera and 3D point cloud scanning. This 360-degree integration allows users to automatically synchronize images with floor plans and timestamps to track the installation’s progress. 

Teams can identify issues early and accelerate coordination across disciplines by sharing detailed model walk-throughs. Laser scanning technology can be used to create detailed 3D point clouds to provide data on existing conditions during preconstruction and post-installation validation.

Having comprehensive visual data—including reality capture and laser scanning—on existing conditions is essential for safe, efficient demolition planning and execution. Demolition traditionally relies on a planning process where some hazards are not recognized until work begins. Advanced technologies such as LiDar and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) scanners create complex 3D point clouds by collecting more than 500,000 data points per second. Digital twins enable electrical contractors to identify risks and proactively optimize demolition operations. Scans also facilitate inventorying components for material reuse and recycling, supporting project sustainability goals. 

Overlaying captured data onto building information modeling (BIM) models further highlights selective demolition phasing opportunities. The permanent visual record validates proper completion and verifies that designated systems remain intact. This reality capture safeguards contractors from unfair damage claims by documenting preexisting conditions before assuming liability. The data also provides helpful historical references for future renovations.

Benefit of before and after photos

The 360-degree camera offers a simple and cost-effective way to capture the entire demolition stage. During a single site visit, electricians can document the site’s initial condition with photographs, which are used for space review and quality control after demolition.

Detailed before and after photos of electrical installations highlight potential hazards that must be addressed. Imagery also allows contractors to efficiently track and document all installed systems in one visit rather than piecing together information later. A classic example of this is walking around the site after installing electrical equipment to collect data, then walking the site weeks later and finding electrical clearance encroachment that was not there previously.

Having a visual record of the construction process enables users to quickly resolve disputes and take the necessary corrective measures.

 

These images also help with quality control records and can serve as a reference point during punch walks, which are essential for identifying any deficiencies or areas that require correction. Furthermore, they play a crucial role in addressing any potential warranty claims that may arise. Having a visual record of the construction process enables users to quickly resolve disputes and take the necessary corrective measures.

Projects benefit from leveraging this weekly reality capture workflow to document comprehensive visual progress updates and store them safely in the cloud. This approach revolutionizes the ability to track and validate the on-site installations with or without BIM design. 

By comparing the captured images, electrical contractors can instantly see what work has been completed and track the progress. In this way, they can ensure that the work exactly matches the original plans. Any discrepancies are reported immediately so the project team can make timely adjustments to keep the project on schedule and prevent potential delays.

This scheduled form of reality capture serves as a tool for enhancing remote collaboration. Traditionally, project teams have had to physically visit the site to assess progress, but with a constant visual stream of images, users can see project status and development from anywhere. This increases efficiency and minimizes the need for frequent site visits, which in turn means project management can spend less time traveling between sites.

This continuous visual documentation also facilitates remote collaboration and complements regular progress checks with detailed interim updates between on-site visits. Contractors can develop a workflow that divides the construction schedule into manageable phases. This approach allows the contractor to provide clients with construction transparency and keep them fully informed of the project’s progress.

Laser scanning

Laser scanning is used to generate highly detailed 3D point clouds. These scans are especially useful for performing detailed quality checks. Scan walls before enclosing to ensure that conduit routing, panel placement and other key system implementations are accurate according to BIM plans. By overlaying the as-built point cloud with the BIM model, users can pinpoint discrepancies that need fixing and ensure the project meets design specifications.

Scanning the point cloud also plays an important role during preconstruction. Scans of existing structures can be performed before proceeding to prefab installation. These scans serve as a basis for comparison with a BIM model, allowing discrepancies to be identified early in the planning phase. Early detection of discrepancies is paramount to avoiding costly rework while keeping the project flow running smoothly.

You can use this reality capture workflow to create a 360-degree visual record of the installed electrical systems, which can be used by the facilities maintenance team. These images become a crucial resource for reviewing installed electrical components, equipment and lighting fixtures, enabling contractors to do routine visual inspections and warranty coverage. 

By pinpointing these concerns, electrical contractors can proactively plan for maintenance and necessary repairs, ensuring that the electrical systems continue to operate at peak efficiency. The precision of 360-degree cameras allows for a thorough examination of electrical systems. Contractors can identify potential issues, damaged equipment, clearance challenges and code violations.

Reality capture for maintenance

Reality capture doesn’t stop at merely identifying issues. It also documents the condition of electrical systems before and after maintenance. This data serves a dual purpose: it acts as a record of the maintenance work completed and provides a log of tasks yet to be performed. This comprehensive information becomes a valuable resource for future reference, enabling the owner to track the life cycle of equipment and electrical systems.

Reality capture technology redefines the maintenance phase of electrical construction. It facilitates proactive maintenance by offering detailed insights into the condition of electrical systems and structures. By identifying potential issues before they escalate, contractors can effectively address them, ensuring the longevity and reliability of electrical installations.

Preconstruction coordination is pivotal as a safeguard against costly rework and ensuring overall efficiency and success. Reality capture is more than a tool, it’s a strategic advantage positioning contractors at the forefront of industry technological advancement. The implementation of new technology for the electrical contractor’s workflow can seem intimidating, and in some cases it is. Reality capture is one of the few technologies that is easy to implement and has a direct influence on an electrical contractor’s deliverables.

Reality capture is considered an emerging technology, and the power is in the hands of the innovative contractor. We have the ability to think outside of the box and find new ways to implement this technology and adapt it to specific needs.

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Check out this QR code to see how this software functions in a real job site project.

About The Author

Christman is the owner of BIMCAD Solutions, which specializes in implementing technology to electrical contractor workflows, including BIM training and digital office to field communication. He can be reached at [email protected].

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