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[PODCAST]: Where HDS is taking BIM

This podcast, brought to you by Hexagon Geosystems, explores how High-Definition Surveying is used in Building Information Modelling and the growing-in-popularity concept of Construction Information Modelling,  examining best practices and future ideas. To listen to more episodes from HxGN Radio, visit our channels on iTunesSoundCloud or Stitcher.

Welcome to HxGN Radio. This is your host Craig Hill. Thank you for joining us in today’s podcast episode titled “Where HDS is taking BIM” brought to you by Hexagon Geosystems. High definition surveying or 3D laser scanning is a critical work process that is adding greater value to the discipline of BIM. HDS sensors and software technology provides the ability to rapidly capture as-is conditions and to support a variety of design, construction and operation workflows. With the ability to understand the full life cycle of a project professionals are seeing significant time and cost savings, and increasingly turning to HDS to solve complex architectural engineering and construction problems. In today’s podcast we’re talking to Faheem Khan vice president for business development for high definition surveying at Leica Geosystems.

CH: Thank you Faheem for joining us today. How exactly is a professional incorporating HDS into their BIM processes for HIM?

FK: Professionals are turning to HDS technology as a way to capture 3D information, the world around them easily, quickly, and cost effectively. The technology is quite easy to use today. With the simple push of a bottom users are able to capture millimeter accurate 3D information and we are witnessing very strong growth rates in the adoption of this technology. And with this growth we are able to leverage economies of scales and production to further drive down the cost of the technology and this cost reduction is further fueling the adoption growth rates. So we see a very nice cycle forming in the use and in higher adoption of the technology as BIM professionals find additional benefits throughout the lifecycle of projects. Speaking of which I would say BIM professionals are today able to leverage such accurate 3D complete information in their design processes to leverage the date in the software packages of their choice and to do things like validating the proposed design, checking for clashes, checking for constructability issues, answering questions such as, “Can I fit MEP system in this space? Or is this concrete poured leveled?” Basically address all questions that are tied to geometry. This workflow is translating into significant cost and time savings throughout the lifecycle of a project and allows our customers, the owners, the stakeholders involved to reduce rework, to better manage risk and really compress project schedules. So this benefit is really felt from design all the way to commissioning to demolishing throughout the entire lifecycle of projects.

CH: Other than just time and cost savings, what are the benefits of these professionals seeing with HDS in BIM?

FK: Sure. HDS is ultimately supporting better decision making for various professionals. For instance, professionals can leverage an accurate as-built generated from HDS to serve the needs of facility managers and this would be based on reality and not based on design which is often the case. Professionals can use HDS to reduce project execution risk and especially difficult renovation projects or start of the design activities with an accurate as-is condition. The benefits are really felt as we leverage the use of accurate 3D information throughout the lifecycle of a project. From inception to demolition and it’s something that we emphasize. That this 3D information, this complete 3D point cloud is a fundamental data type that could be leveraged from start to end.

CH: Can you tell us about a recent project that used HDS and BIM?

FK: Sure Craig. Our customers are executing BIM projects on really a daily basis today and there doing this around the world. And given that were in Hong Kong doing this podcast, I thought it’s only right that I talk about a local example. In fact, the complexity and density of Hong Kong as a city, a city that I grew up in, lends itself as a good place where HDS and BIM deliver significant value to stakeholders. On to some project examples, one recent example was in the scan and modeling of the Victoria Peak Fire Station. This project is a quite atypical in the way that BIM processes were deployed, because this was deployed not for design, not for construction but for preservation. This historical building is now preserved in its entirety with every single structural member mapped out and archived through a single day of data capture work. We’ve seen natural disasters. We’ve seen certain manmade disasters take place and really destroy the environment that we’re in or the history that we want to preserve. For instance, in Korea in the destruction of the Namdaemun site. So this preservation activity really allows us to preserve our history and allow the future generation to leverage this information for engineering, for knowledge, for cultural reasons. So this was not a typical BIM project that I wanted to touch on but it was a local example. But really from such interesting historical projects we see significant adoption of BIM in the massive construction activity that takes place in Hong Kong today. From the extension of the cargo terminal to development of housing units in Hong Kong, as well as the construction of this… the link between China and Hong Kong… the Pearl River Delta bridge. We see professionals really leveraging the marriage of BIM and HDS every day to do everything from infrastructure BIM to building project related BIM deployment. So it’s very exciting.

CH: Moving beyond BIM, CIM or construction information modeling mainly affecting the building of infrastructure like roads and tunnels is gaining in popularity. What role is HDS playing there?

FK: HDS is deployed for both vertical BIM and horizontal BIM and really for many of the same reasons that we’ve discussed for the same business drivers that are costumers are serving. Clearly the type of construction the data model, the workflow, the deliverables that the stakeholders need are all different for the different types of domain but HDS has traditionally been a widely used technology to support infrastructure projects. And we see this growing with the introductory of UAV and the workflows, the use of mobile mapping workflows, the use of hybrid terrestrial mapping devices, survey devices like the multi-station. We see a merge and convergence of these sensor platform to view both horizontal projects as well as vertical project. And the difference really lies in the different data model and the deliverables that our customers are expecting as an output. But the technologies that we deploy and the reasons to deploy them are largely the same.

CH: Where do you see the future of HDS in BIM going?

FK: This is a very exciting topic and the future is full of further innovation, full of further integration, full of automation. But I’ll touch on a couple of things that we’re working on at the moment to drive this future, to support this future. I think our customers tell us and our customers are right in telling us that they’re dealing with a fairly complex operating environment to execute BIM projects. They’re typically using multiple workflows, multiple software packages. So interoperability between HDS workflows and the BIM workflows that our customers use is of tremendous importance. So what we’ve done to address this is we’ve developed a software architecture that allows the data that we capture, the technology that we provide to be interfaced with all major BIM packages natively. So from the push of a bottom on a hybrid product to capture the sensor information into a database, the analysis then can take place in the BIM package of choice of our customers. So we have plugins and interfaces into Revit, into all the major packages in the market. And that’s one aspect. At the same time, we see the projects becoming ever, ever bigger than before. So scalability is becoming a big requirement. One way to look at scalability is to look at the performance of hardware products. The first laser scanners would measure 800 points a second, and the laser scanners that we produce today measure one million points a second. So that is generating a tremendously larger data volume per day, that’s basically gigabytes per day and our customers are working on larger and larger projects. And they shouldn’t be penalized to scale down their project size because software can’t handle this or because the hardware is too fast. We address the scalability problem by allowing our technology to perform based on the industrial needs that our client has. So for instance, the latest introduction in our software lineup is a product called JetStream. Here we compress the point cloud through our software technology by a ratio of around 80 percent. So the file is smaller and these files can then be streamed to the different design packages that our customers use more effectively. And they can also be scaled to address the size of a little building all the way to an entire city because of the architecture and the algorithms behind it. So scalability is a fundamental important topic to us. Our customers should not be penalized for working on big projects. The next area of innovation that we try to address is in the area of speed. It’s not just speed of data captured but it’s speed of getting the answer or getting the solution that our customers need. So if the workflow calls for a concrete pour flatness analysis then we should be able to press a button and get the deviation map produced quite quickly. So I would point out an example, the multi-station technology innovated that we introduced to the market has a new application which allows you to do onboard, infield, real time inspection mapping. This technology truly allows our customers to have the right solution at the right location very, very quickly. So it’s really around the areas of interoperability, scalability, speed, speed in which we get the solution, and the solution at the right place at the right time. This is an area that we try to bridge the world of reality capture, the world of HDS with BIM going forward and that’s maybe one aspect of it. That’s in the construction phase and the design phase. The other innovation that takes place and it’s already taking place is in the use of this point cloud throughout the operating life of an asset. There we have some very nice integration into asset management solutions and we see that adoption growing. Ultimately these infrastructures take maybe 3 years to build. The last 40 years in our life… in the case of Hong Kong maybe 40, maybe 30 but in other countries maybe 200 years. So we this importance of leveraging that information that as-built data, keeping it updated and keeping it going for the assets that are deployed using BIM workflows and using HDS to keep it current. I think that these are some of the elements that we see the bridge between the two roles coming together.

CH: We appreciate your time today Faheem and thank you for being our guest.

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