A quantum leap in “go-anywhere” 3D mobile mapping technology


The demand for up to date, accurate 3D models is greater than ever before. Traditionally creating these models was solely the domain of professional surveyors, but now engineers and geospatial professionals such as facilities managers and architects are seeking ways to quickly and accurately create 3D models. These professionals all need access to user-friendly technology that is easy to install and use, but is robust and reliable enough to do the job quickly and accurately. The new ZEB-REVO RT from GeoSLAM offers a real-time solution to this problem.

GeoSLAM’s ZEB-REVO RT cuts survey times in half, by collecting and processing scan data simultaneously whilst on the move. The 3D scan is displayed in real time on either a mobile phone or tablet, connected wirelessly to the scanner, allowing for immediate visual feedback on coverage and data quality.

Once scanned and processed, your 3D scan data is ready for manipulation. Here’s where GeoSLAM’s homegrown software comes into play. GeoSLAM Hub software enables ‘end to end’ data capture with users able to view, re-process, merge and output 2D and 3D deliverables (in a variety of industry standard formats) all within the one software package.

The time-saving and hassle-free solutions developed by GeoSLAM help to ensure that surveying jobs are completed 10 times faster than using traditional survey tools – and slashing up to two-thirds off project costs. Moreover, these technological tools bring the surveying and construction industries into the digital age.

The Digital Construction Age

Digitalisation is key to transforming the engineering and construction industry and moving it into the fourth industrial revolution. Innovations of this kind enable new functionalities along the entire value chain, from the early design phase to the very end of an asset’s lifecycle at the demolition phase. New digital technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), wireless sensing, and 3D printing have begun transforming the way that infrastructure, real estate, and other built assets can be designed, constructed and managed.

BIM is gaining currency as a platform for central integrated design, modelling, planning and collaboration. It provides all stakeholders (architects, surveyors, engineers, building owners, facility managers etc.) with a 3D digital representation - “the digital twin” - of a building’s characteristics – throughout its lifecycle.

Sitting at the heart of BIM is digital technology which extends 2D technical drawings into 3D virtual information models, with project management and visualisation tools. This means that spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, quantities and properties of building components can be identified. The benefits are potentially huge: greater predictability of building performance, price and program. Stakeholders in the engineering lifecycle that embrace digital technologies such as BIM can become leaders in their field. Otherwise, they risk losing out competitively.

The ongoing transformation of the construction industry will rely increasingly on BIM and other digital tools. Many national governments - including of the UK, USA and Australia - have already acknowledged the value of BIM and have begun to mandate digital modelling in the design phase of large construction projects.

However, research into BIM adoption in the UK, suggests just over half construction professionals use BIM. And in only equating BIM as a synonym for 3D drawings, professionals are missing out on the potentially significant benefits that digital engineering can offer.

A Changing Landscape

But this is about to change and the key is digitalisation. The 3D spatial information model is the solid foundation and coupling the complex, data-rich technology along with drones, 3D augmented reality, ubiquitous connectivity and most importantly, a collaborative way of working, will unlock the true value of digital engineering. Digital engineering isn’t only about creating models. It’s about unlocking intelligence, creating data and a platform for true project collaboration that is set to be the building block for 21st century construction.

Full scale digitalisation in nonresidential construction could, within 10 years, produce annual global cost savings of 13-21%. With the global construction sector forecast to grow by up to 70% by 2025, this cannot be achieved by manpower alone. The technologies that will play a leading role in enabling this growth range from big data analytics, mobile connectivity and 3D augmented reality to drones and embedded sensors.

Tools that are cost effective, easily accessible, work in all environments and quickly prove their worth will be widely adopted. For example, disruptive technology such as handheld mobile mapping tools allow you to build highly accurate 3D models of any indoor, underground or difficult to access environment within minutes.

Tomorrow’s engineer will be defined by their ability to integrate innovative engineering approaches, digital technologies and rich data. Ultimately, digital engineering will realise its full potential only if widely adopted and computerised construction is the industry norm. Thanks to new scanning technologies like GeoSLAM’s ZEB-REVO RT and GeoSLAM Hub software, the construction industry is ever closer to this digital future.

Case Study: fast and accurate scanning techniques in modeling historic buildings and tunnels of Oxford University

Midland Survey are experts in surveying complex and difficult to access spaces where there is limited or no GPS, but Oriel College with its labyrinthine network of historic buildings threw up a particular set of challenges.

Oriel College, part of the prestigious University of Oxford in the UK, is nearly 700 years old, with around 200 rooms across five storeys, including an “island site”, accessible only via tunnel. The structure has been extended over the years and no accurate floor plans or elevation drawings exist. As a world-class institute, it is occupied 24/7 and opportunities to accurately scan with minimal disruption are few.

Traditional tools were not an option due to the network of rooms spread across 5 storeys.

David Johnson, Director, Midland Survey said, “Due to the lack of GPS coverage in the tunnel, the only option was to use GeoSLAM’s ‘go-anywhere’ ZEB-REVO. The unusual shape of the building, with its unconventional layout and complex network of rooms, meant it was too difficult and time-consuming to survey with traditional static scanning methods (as this would require multiple individual set-ups and increased post-processing work). We needed a lightweight, mobile tool that works well in enclosed environments. Using the ZEB-REVO around 200 rooms were scanned, amounting to 12,000m². Across 5 days, 12 individual rapid ZEB-REVO scans were completed each taking just 30 minutes. The entire project was completed in around half of the total time that would have been required using static equipment.”

“We frequently work in hazardous environments, as well as in complex and difficult to access spaces where there is limited or no GPS coverage such as heritage buildings with thick stone walls. We often have limited time on site to accurately create a 3D model. Access to user-friendly technology such as the ZEB-REVO that scans multi-level environments and produces accurate and high-quality 3D survey data, is a real game-changer for us,” said Johnson.

GeoSLAM’s technology is at its best in complex, enclosed, multi-level environments recording over 43,000 measurement points per second. Scanning is completed in half the time of static equipment and for the first time in nearly 700 years the site has accurate 3D models representing the buildings in their truest form.