industry insights

SiteMap®: Revolutionizing Facility Management and Construction Site Data Analysis with All-In-One Solution

SiteMap® makes facility management simple, offering an all-in-one solution that is revolutionizing utility management across the globe.

A 2015 Accenture Survey revealed that 82% of organizations approach innovation just as they do incremental performance improvements. This frequently results in numerous challenges, with 72% acknowledging they miss key growth opportunities and 60% finding it difficult to learn from past errors.

In the fast-paced, often competitive world of construction and facility management, staying ahead demands both innovation and precision. SiteMap® (patent pending), powered by GPRS, is revolutionizing the industry by providing comprehensive solutions for stakeholders, project managers, and professionals to navigate underground assets and analyze construction site data. With cutting-edge technology and an intuitive, user-centric design, SiteMap® streamlines utility and infrastructure mapping, enhancing decision-making processes. Innovation is crucial, and SiteMap® is leading the way.

Three construction workers looking at as-builts.
In the fast-paced, often competitive world of construction and facility management, staying ahead demands both innovation and precision.

Understanding the Need for Precision Utility Mapping

Before diving into the specifics of SiteMap®, it's essential to grasp why precise utility mapping is vital for its success. Recent statistics show that utility damage during excavation activities costs over $40 billion annually, with more than half of reported utility strike incidents resulting from inadequate or inaccurate mapping information. These figures highlight the importance of having reliable underground utility data to mitigate risks, minimize disruptions, and ensure safety.

While many services claim to map areas, both above and below ground, only one can do so with the thoroughness and accuracy needed to nearly eliminate the risk of striking a utility: GPRS, with data delivered through its user-friendly platform, SiteMap®.

Precision utility mapping removes the guesswork from identifying underground utilities, providing data on private utilities that 811 cannot. Although 811 is a legally required and valuable tool, its contractors can only locate public utilities, missing critical information needed to reduce significant risks. 811 only holds data for public utilities, and while these are numerous, 10% of the US population relies on private water utility lines. Many properties in the U.S. have 65% private lines and just 35% public lines.

The nation has thousands of miles of accurately mapped utility lines, both private and public. GPRS aims for a world with 100% subsurface damage prevention. With a 99.8% accuracy rate for ground penetrating radar services (GPR), utility locating services, and utility mapping services, GPRS can eliminate the guesswork, providing precise data that is transformed into easy-to-navigate, aggregated digital maps delivered via SiteMap®.

Three GPRS Project Managers looking at a tablet.
SiteMap® (patent pending), powered by GPRS, is revolutionizing the industry by providing comprehensive solutions for stakeholders, project managers, and professionals to navigate underground assets and analyze construction site data.

SiteMap®: Your All-In-One Utility Mapping Solution

SiteMap® is more than just a utility mapping delivery service – it's a comprehensive infrastructure management platform designed to meet the diverse needs of construction professionals, facility managers, and utility operators. At its core, SiteMap® offers three key components:

Precision, Layered Utility Mapping: Leveraging many different advanced technologies, GPRS provides accurate and real-time mapping of underground utilities, including gas pipelines, electrical cables, water mains, sanitary and storm sewers, and telecommunications infrastructure, among others. With high-resolution imaging capabilities, SiteMap® enables stakeholders in many industries to visualize underground assets with unparalleled clarity and precision, reducing the risk of excavation-related incidents and costly repairs.

With SiteMap®'s interactive underground utility map, users can explore underground assets in a dynamic and intuitive interface. Featuring customizable layers, advanced search functionalities, and more, each interactive map empowers stakeholders to analyze construction site data, identify potential conflicts, and optimize project workflows with ease. See your site simply, in a new, exciting way, by seeing your site with SiteMap®.

Through SiteMap®, professionals may also see their aboveground structural assets via a WalkThru 3D Virtual Tour, or other 3D product offered by GPRS, which can provide workers, stakeholders, and potential customers a self-guided reality capture experience of your project from anywhere in the world, also delivered via SiteMap®.

Utility Mapping Anywhere: In complex construction environments, access to data on-the-go is essential. SiteMap®'s utility mapping mobile app puts the power of precision mapping in the palm of your hand, allowing field team members to view, download and share, annotate, and utilize utility maps directly from their mobile devices. Whether conducting on-site inspections, performing emergency repairs, or collaborating with remote teams, the mobility of SiteMap® ensures seamless communication and decision-making across all project phases.

Accurate Underground Utility Maps: Gone are the days of static paper maps and cumbersome, inaccurate software. With SiteMap®'s interactive underground utility maps, and structural reality capture, users can explore underground and aboveground assets in a dynamic and intuitive interface. However, what good would all these maps be without accuracy? SiteMap® is different from other GIS platforms, because SiteMap® is backed by GPRS, which provides 99.8%+ accurate data, and has maintained this rating on over half a million jobs nationwide.

Every decision you make can cost time, money, and even lives. Having accurate documentation before you build, cut, core, or dig – accessible at the touch of a button, whether you’re on site or across the country – helps you plan, design, dig, manage, and build better.

GPRS specializes in Intelligently Visualizing The Built World® for clients in virtually every industry, and delivers 99.8%+ accurate utility maps & concrete scans, rectified 3D photogrammetry & walkthrough tours, and 2-6mm accurate 2D CAD drawings, 3D point clouds, meshes, and BIM models via our SiteMap® platform.

The Power of Data-Driven Decision-Making

In an industry where every decision can have far-reaching implications, having immediate access to reliable data is one of the most important aspects of construction, facility management and related AEC industries. SiteMap® equips stakeholders with the insights they need to make informed decisions and drive project success. By harnessing the power of data-driven decision-making, SiteMap® enables:

Risk Mitigation: By accurately mapping underground utilities and identifying potential hazards, SiteMap® helps mitigate the risk of excavation-related incidents, ensuring the safety of workers and the integrity of infrastructure. Excavation damage continues to be a leading cause of pipeline incidents, which can lead to destruction of property, injury, and fatalities

Resource Optimization: With easy-to-understand data on utility locations and conditions, project managers can optimize resource allocation, streamline workflows, and minimize downtime, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with regulatory requirements is non-negotiable in the construction industry. SiteMap®'s comprehensive mapping solutions facilitate compliance with safety regulations, environmental standards, and permitting processes, reducing the risk of costly fines and legal liabilities.

As the construction industry continues to evolve, embracing innovation and leveraging the power of technology will be essential for staying competitive and driving growth. SiteMap® by represents the future of facility management and construction site data analysis, offering all-in-one solutions that empower stakeholders to navigate the complexities of underground assets with confidence and clarity.

By combining advanced ground-penetrating radar technology with intuitive design and user-friendly interfaces, SiteMap® redefines the way professionals interact with construction site data, enabling them to make smarter decisions and achieve better outcomes. Whether you're a construction professional, facility manager, or utility operator, SiteMap® provides the tools you need to succeed in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment.

GPRS SiteMap® team members are currently scheduling live, personal SiteMap® demonstrations. Click below to schedule your free SiteMap® demo today!

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SiteMap®

Mixed Reality Featured in College Football Playoff & National Championship

The Famous Group collaborated with Mercedes-Benz USA, ESPN, The College Football Playoff, The Peach Bowl, Disney Advertising, and Merkley+Partners to develop a mixed reality experience for fans during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, 2022.

The Famous Group collaborated with Mercedes-Benz USA, ESPN, The College Football Playoff, The Peach Bowl, Disney Advertising, and Merkley+Partners to develop a mixed reality experience for fans during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, 2022.

GPRS 3D Laser Scanning is pleased to have played a part in this massive mixed reality collaboration.

The Georgia Bulldogs faced The Ohio State Buckeyes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. Fans in the stadium and viewers at home witnessed a live virtual car race before the second half kickoff.

Screenshot from a video showing a computer-generated car driving on an elevated roadway over a football field.
The Famous Group recreated the Mercedes-Benz mixed reality experience during the National Championship game on January 9, 2023 at SoFi Stadium.

Mercedes-Benz AG USA planned the mixed reality experience to announce its new electric vehicle line up during the Chick-fil-A Restaurants Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on ESPN. The stadium was transformed into a futuristic, electrifying multiverse, featuring four 3D replicas of the new Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles speeding for 45 seconds across the field, goalposts and Halo video board at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Famous Group’s mixed reality technique incorporated three tracked cameras, including two fixed cameras and an overhead SkyCam, to convert the fantasy race into the physical stadium.

This collaboration marks the first time that mixed reality technology has been used on a live broadcast during a college football game and is the latest in a string of innovations for the Mercedes-Benz USA brand.

Screenshot from a video showing computer-generated cars driving on an elevated roadway.
The Famous Group collaborated with Mercedes-Benz USA, ESPN, The College Football Playoff, The Peach Bowl, Disney Advertising, and Merkley+Partners to develop a mixed reality experience for fans during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, 2022.

Mixed Reality Recreated During National Championship Game

The Famous Group recreated the Mercedes-Benz mixed reality experience during the National Championship game on January 9, 2023 at SoFi Stadium. Similar to the first airing, the experience featured four virtual electric Mercedes-Benz vehicles racing for 45 seconds across the playing field, through the goalposts and up to SoFi’s signature Oculus board.

"The field’s going to rip up, and the cars are going to drive out," according to The Famous Group Partner, Andrew Isaacson. "But instead of that Mercedes Benz logo being attached to that halo board, it’s going to be inside that Oculus inside SoFi."

New camera locations, including a Skycam tucked inside SoFi Stadium’s Oculus, were utilized to match the contours of SoFi and the magnificent Oculus video board. The experience aired live on ESPN during the halftime break.

“Our Mixed Reality team has created some of the most impactful activations for leagues, teams, and brands across the industry,” says Isaacson. “We’re thrilled to help bring this innovative technology to a live college football broadcast for the first time. This campaign will showcase an iconic brand while also providing fans with a unique and immersive experience.”

The Famous Group was selected as one of this year’s 10 Most Innovative Sports Tech Companies. They were also nominated in the Best in Extended Reality and Best in Fan Experience categories for the Sports Business Awards.

3D Laser Scanning for Mixed Reality

GPRS 3D Laser Scanning provided 3D data to make this mixed reality moment come to life. By 3D laser scanning the stadiums, the existing spatial layout was captured with great accuracy. The computer-generated experiences were able to precisely interact with the physical environment.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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3D Laser Scanning
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Top 10 Reasons to Hire an Experienced Laser Scanning Company

Not all 3D laser scanning companies are created equal.

Laser scanning looks easy – you just push a button, right?

Not quite.

The truth is that not all 3D laser scanning companies are created equal. Here are the top 10 reasons to hire an experienced laser scanning company:

A GPRS Project Manager operating a 3D laser scanner.
Hiring a professional laser scanning company ensures you have the best personnel using the right technology to properly visualize your job site.

10. EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY

Technology, workflows and software are constantly evolving. Hire a company that is performing these services every day and staying up on the latest trends.

9. TRAVEL COSTS

Reduce internal travel costs by using a company with nationwide service and allow more focus on revenue generation and project management vs. data collection.

8. LIABILITY

Limit your exposure by hiring a professional. Does your firm want to take on the risk of making a subtle mistake that could be costly?

7. SOFTWARE LICENSES

Specialized software such as Cyclone, EdgeWise, Scene, Build-It, Revit, AutoCAD, etc., cost substantial dollars and take time to properly learn.

6. REDUCE EXPENSES

Experienced laser scanning companies absorb the expenses associated with purchasing hardware, firmware, training, maintenance and calibration year-in and year-out.

5. POST-PROCESSING EXPERTISE

Trust that experienced companies have developed the most efficient workflows possible to construct 2D and 3D deliverables with great accuracy.

4. REGISTRATION

There is a significant learning curve to attaining proficiency in data registration. Quality checks, removing noise, setting the coordinate system and validating the precision of registration by an experienced team ensures the most accurate measurements.

3. COST-EFFECTIVE

For those who may have thought that 3D scanning wasn’t cost-effective for their application, experience can reduce operating costs. It’s not a bad time to take another look at it.

2. ACCURATE DATA

Experience assures accurate documentation of existing conditions. This is of critical importance for design planning, cost estimation and scheduling. It reduces errors and improves efficiency.

AND THE #1 REASON TO HIRE AN EXPERIENCED LASER SCANNING COMPANY IS…

1. FIELD EXPERIENCE

Trust companies whose core competency is laser scanning. They have completed formal training and have field experience in your industry-specific setting, allowing you to focus on your core competencies. Experienced companies will understand your work processes and business objective and give you the tools to fulfill them.

GPRS Provides 2-4mm Accurate 3D Laser Scanning Services

Accurate measurements help you avoid expensive mistakes, reworks, and change orders. GPRS 3D Laser Scanning services provide 2-4mm accuracy by capturing 2 million data points per second, for efficient planning, design, and construction.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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Top 6 Misconceptions About Laser Scanning

3D laser scanning is still a relatively recent addition to the construction industry’s tool kit. Because of this, many still have misconceptions about the technology’s capabilities, and when to hire a professional 3D laser scanning company.

3D laser scanning is still a relatively recent addition to the construction industry’s tool kit. Because of this, many still have misconceptions about the technology’s capabilities, and when to hire a professional 3D laser scanning company.

A GPRS Project Manager stands next to a 3D laser scanner looking at a tablet.
3D laser scanning is still a relatively recent addition to the construction industry’s tool kit. Because of this, many still have misconceptions about the technology’s capabilities, and when to hire a professional 3D laser scanning company.

Let’s debunk six of the most common misconceptions that we encounter:

1. We don’t need to use scanning until there is a problem

The opposite is actually true. You need to use laser scanning proactively at the very beginning of a project – even before RFP’s go out. By scanning early in the process, potential bidders can have more information to provide a more accurate proposal for their services. The less “unknowns” a subcontractor has, the less “fluff” or contingency they need to build into their proposal. In addition, potential issues can be uncovered long before the design is implemented in the field, potentially saving exponentially over the cost of scanning. Scanning can also reduce site visits and loss of production due to being in the field instead of working on design or other aspects of the project.

2. Scanning is too expensive

It’s too expensive NOT to use laser scanning. It is true that the cost of laser scanning comes at the front end of a project instead of the end, but it can pay dividends. Scanning can help eliminate possible change orders and delays related to unknowns that could have been identified with scanning early in the design process, before changes become costly. All too often we hear clients say, “If only we would have used scanning on this project….” Unfortunately, hindsight’s 20/20. In other words, you never really know how much laser scanning would have saved you until it’s too late.

3. All point clouds are created equal

Many factors determine the quality of the point cloud data, including the type of scanning equipment and workflow used; the scan technician’s expertise regarding knowing how many scans are appropriate, as well as where and what to scan; and the scanning resolution used.

4. The point cloud is useless

On the contrary, the point cloud is a very rich and powerful tool and, in fact, can be a very cost-effective way of working with laser scanning. Since the point cloud contains everything the scanner was able to “see,” it is a more complete “picture” of the entire site; a model, on the other hand, only contains those items that are specifically modeled – and those are only an interpretation of the point cloud. The point cloud, however, is reality.

5. Modeling is too expensive

It is true that a significant portion of the cost of scanning can be in the modeling, but it does not always have to be. One of the reasons this myth exists is because often times clients tell service providers that they want “everything” modeled when, in reality, they only need a small area or certain specific features modeled. For example, there is no reason to model every piece of steel in a building or every ½” pipe and conduit when the client may only need the steel of a particular platform or no conduit at all and only pipes that are greater than 2”. Some minor tweaks to the scope of the modeling can radically change the price of the modeling services.

6. You have to have a model in order to use the data

In reality, most projects do not need a model. In fact, many deliverables – like clash detection, floor flatness analysis, prefabrication, wall plumbness, and orthoimages – are extracted directly from the point cloud. In addition, some 2D drawings (floorplans, elevations, framing plans, reflective ceiling plans) can also use the point cloud directly instead of needing to do line work by plotting the point cloud directly on the drawing, and it can even be used for construction documents.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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The Importance of Registration in 3D Laser Scanning

Getting the registration right ensures the most accurate measurements, and the best drawings and models.

Registration is the process of compiling individual laser scans into a cohesive point cloud. It involves taking the raw scan data collected onsite and producing a point cloud that can be used for modeling and measuring. Getting the registration right ensures the most accurate measurements, and the best drawings and models.

This process is so vital that GPRS has a team dedicated to ensuring your scan data is properly registered. Our Project Managers are trained to acquire data in ways that allow for good, tight registration. Our modeling and registration team performs quality checks on every point cloud, removing noise, setting the coordinate system, and validating the precision of that registration. We make sure all the scans fit together exactly as they should, so that your cloud and models will have tight lines and accurate measurements.

GPRS can register data sets of any size. We have completed projects with literally thousands of individual scans, on sites that are tens to hundreds of acres large, and mapping miles of piping. No matter how big or small your project, GPRS provides you with the most precise point clouds for the most accurate models.

laser scan point cloud registration
Registration example for two large storage tanks, including a ladder/cage on the one on the left.

Registration example of a cross section of a column and a drain pipe.
A registration example of a cross section of a column and a drain pipe. A proper registration provides tight lines on the column and wall and a tight circle for the pipe. This allows for accurate placement in a model and precise measurement of column size and pipe diameter.

Registration example for a wall and two columns.
A registration example for a wall and two columns. Each color in this image represents a different individual scan. A good registration brings all of these scans together to form tight, precise lines.

A registration example of door openings.
A registration example of door openings.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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Design Intent vs. As-Built Models

Design Intent: Deliverables will be shown as a “best fit” to the point cloud working within customary standards. As-Builts: Deliverables will be shown as close as possible to actual field capture.

GPRS is a leading provider of 3D laser scanning services. We work closely with each client to provide the exact CAD deliverables to meet their virtual design and construction needs.

One of the first questions we ask clients is “Do you want create the perfect model reflecting the original design intent or a model to reflect the as-built field conditions?” When this question is understood and answered, GPRS’ in-house Mapping & Modeling Department can create the best model for your project.

A construction document.
GPRS’ team of in-house engineers can create the best model for your project.

What is the Difference Between a Design Intent and As-Built Model?

DESIGN INTENT: Deliverables will be shown as a "best fit" to the point cloud working within customary standards, such as walls being modeled 90 degrees perpendicular to floor, pipes and conduit modeled straight, floors and ceilings modeled horizontal, and steel members modeled straight. This will produce cleaner 2D drawings and will allow for easier dimensioning of the scan area. The deliverables will not exactly follow the scan data to maintain design intent standards. Most clients will want this option for their deliverables.

AS-BUILTS: Deliverables will be shown as close as possible to actual field capture. If walls are out of plumb, pipes and conduit show sag, floors and ceilings are unlevel, steel members show camber, etc., this will be reflected in the model. This will produce reality-capture deliverables, but 2D drawings may show “crooked” or out of plumb lines, floors will be sloped or contoured, steel members may show camber, twisting or impact damage. Dimensioning will not be as easy due to being out of plumbness/levelness, etc. This option should be used when the exact conditions of the scan area is imperative. Clients using the data for fabrication, forensic analysis, bolt hole patterns, camber/sag/deformation analysis, and similar needs would require this option.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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How ESG is Impacting Facility Management

Facility management companies are keen to demonstrate that they’re at the forefront of socially and environmentally responsible decision-making, and it is informing everything from what types of supplies they purchase to the carbon footprints of the vendors they contract with.

Environmental Social Governance (ESG) – what does that term mean? Much like Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality (DEI) initiatives gaining ground in business, ESG could become just another acronym that managers throw around. However, when you put ESG principles into practice for your facility, it can have an immediate impact on several fronts.

ESG stands for Environmental Social Governance and is gaining popularity for sustainable practices in facility management.

WHAT IS ESG?

Sustainability is quickly becoming a watchword across every industry. That is certainly true of facility management as stakeholders, staff, and customers – whether students in higher education or medical personnel and patients in medical centers – put increasing pressure on facility managers to find solutions to mitigate or offset the consequences of construction, utility use, and infrastructure management on the environment.

Facility management companies are keen to demonstrate that they’re at the forefront of socially and environmentally responsible decision-making, and it is informing everything from what types of supplies they purchase to the carbon footprints of the vendors they contract with.

WHY ADOPT ESG PRINCIPLES?

Are facility managers “going green” because they’re committed to combating manmade pollution’s effect on climate change? Many are, certainly. But there are also a wide swath who are looking at ESG through a purely commerce-based lens because practicing strong environmental and social governance can provide exponential positive publicity, while failing to embrace a greener social and facility management approach can impact your reputation and your bottom line. An added benefit, no matter what the root cause in choosing to adopt ESG principles, is that facilities managers may see reduced utility costs and market opportunities that can give them significant leeway in budgetary concerns.

CREATING YOUR FACILITY ESG MAP – THE STARTING POINT

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA), recommends asking three specific questions as you consider implementing ESG planning and execution into your workflows and contracts:


Does your organization minimize the impact of its activities on nature and its surroundings?

Does your organization improve its interactions with its workforce and the broader community?

Does your organization focus on decision-making processes, report on activities, and ensure ethical behavior?


Answering the above questions for your facilities and management team can help you to zero-in on the activities and practices that comply with ESG principles, and those on which you can improve to ethically and sustainably reduce your environmental impact while increasing your positive impact on your staff, customers, and community.

Once you have the map your facility needs to head in a more sustainable direction, you need to drill down into specific operational practices to execute the vision. Here are five ways you can integrate ESG principles into your facility management, operations, and maintenance:

1. Implement Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solutions

Facility managers can significantly reduce energy consumption by upgrading to energy-efficient systems and integrating renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines. Utilizing smart building technologies and conducting regular energy audits will help identify areas for improvement, aligning operations with governmental sustainability practices aimed at reducing carbon footprints.

2. Adopt Sustainable Resource Management Practices

Effective resource management includes reducing water usage through the installation of low-flow fixtures, smart irrigation systems, and annual water loss surveys, as well as optimizing waste management by implementing comprehensive recycling programs and conducting sanitary and storm sewer assessments on a regular basis. Facility managers should prioritize the use of eco-friendly materials and products, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and certifications like LEED.

3. Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality

Improving indoor air quality, lighting, and acoustics can contribute to the overall well-being and productivity of occupants. Facility managers should ensure proper ventilation, use low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials, and integrate biophilic design elements. These practices not only meet societal expectations for healthy work environments but also adhere to standards set by organizations like the EPA and WHO.

4. Promote Social Responsibility and Community Engagement

Facility managers can foster a culture of social responsibility by supporting local communities and engaging with stakeholders. This can be achieved through initiatives such as creating green spaces, offering community workshops on sustainability, and partnering with local businesses for sustainable sourcing. Such efforts demonstrate a commitment to societal governance and contribute to positive community relations.

5. Ensure Compliance and Reporting Transparency

Maintaining compliance with environmental laws and regulations is essential. Facility managers should implement robust monitoring and reporting systems to track ESG performance metrics. Regularly publishing sustainability reports and engaging in third-party audits enhance transparency and accountability, aligning with best practices in corporate governance and building trust with investors and stakeholders.

Integrating ESG principles into facility management does take time, practice, and effort to achieve buy-in from all parties. Once you have achieved a solid ESG policy, however, it can have longstanding positive effects on your brand, reputation, and facility function for decades to come.

GPRS helps customers Intelligently Visualize The Built World® and can support your ESG efforts. What can we help you visualize? 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do renewable energy sources contribute to improved ESG implementation in facility management?

Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with environmental governance goals. By decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, facilities lower their carbon footprint and contribute to global sustainability efforts. Additionally, utilizing renewable energy can lead to long-term cost savings and improved energy security, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable practices that attract environmentally conscious stakeholders and investors.

Why are accurate existing conditions documents crucial for effective ESG implementation?

Accurate existing conditions documents provide a comprehensive understanding of a facility’s current state, including structural integrity, energy usage, and resource management. These documents are essential for identifying areas needing improvement, planning sustainable upgrades, and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. Precise documentation helps facility managers make informed decisions, track progress, and demonstrate due diligence in their ESG initiatives, thereby enhancing transparency and accountability in their operations.

How can streamlined communications enhance ESG implementation in facility management?

Streamlined communications facilitate better coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, including facility managers, employees, contractors, and community members. Clear and efficient communication channels ensure that ESG goals, policies, and progress are effectively conveyed, fostering a shared understanding and commitment to sustainability initiatives. By reducing misunderstandings and improving information flow, streamlined communications support timely and accurate reporting, stakeholder engagement, and the successful implementation of ESG strategies, ultimately leading to more cohesive and impactful outcomes.

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What is 3D Laser Scanning?

3D laser scanning delivers complete and accurate as-built site information prior to the design and planning of your construction project.

3D laser scanning delivers complete and accurate as-built site information prior to the design and planning of your construction project.

3D laser scanners capture every detail of your site – the structural, architectural, and MEP features, plus underground utilities and concrete reinforcements – at incredible speeds with unparalleled accuracy. 3D laser scanning delivers an overall site plan capturing exact building dimensions, locations, and layout.

Two GPRS Project Managers talking to each other next to a 3D laser scanner.
3D laser scanning delivers complete and accurate as-built site information prior to the design and planning of your construction project.

How Does a 3D Laser Scanner Work?

3D laser scanners employ LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to map millions of data points across a project site. The core mechanism involves emitting rapid pulses of light that bounce off objects and return to the scanner’s sensor. By measuring the time it takes for each pulse to travel to the object and back, the scanner calculates the distance between itself and the object. Each data point is then converted into a pixel with known x, y, and z coordinates.

Scanners capture millions of these data points from various positions and angles, which are then compiled into a point cloud. This point cloud forms a highly accurate 3D as-built dataset of the site. Modern scanners, like the Leica RTC360, can capture and process up to 2 million data points per second with an accuracy of 2-4 mm. The result is a comprehensive, real-time dataset that can be analyzed or converted into detailed 2D CAD drawings and 3D BIM models.

3D laser scanning technology offers a precise, cost-effective solution for as-built documentation and facility visualization. It minimizes costly errors and accelerates design, engineering, and construction processes. This technology provides the detailed information necessary for construction, renovation, design planning, prefabrication, asset management, and facility modifications.

An illustration of point cloud data being captured by a 3D laser scanner operated by a GPRS Project Manager.
3D laser scanners capture every detail of your site – the structural, architectural, and MEP features, plus underground utilities and concrete reinforcements – at incredible speeds with unparalleled accuracy.

What are the Applications of 3D Laser Scanning?

As-builts, reality capture, and existing conditions data

  • Construction verification, sequencing, scheduling, and simulations
  • Design engineering for facility upgrades or expansions
  • 2D and 3D laser map of a building
  • Prefabrication
  • Clash detection
  • Architectural documentation or historical preservation
  • Calculating volumes, deformation analysis, and overhead clearances
  • Virtual design and construction
  • Laser scanning for facility coordination
  • Collecting geospatial data
  • Creating a digital twin
  • Performing advanced analysis to easily aggregate, query, visualize, and analyze data in a 3D model
  • Augmented & Mixed Reality (AR & MR) for video games, television, film, and sports enhanced fan experiences

Knowing which application you need determines what 3D laser scanner is used on site, the necessary resolution of the point cloud and photography, and what kind of maps, models, drawings, or other deliverables your project requires.

What are the Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning?

3D laser scanning accelerates the as-built data capture process compared to traditional surveying methods. Laser scanners can quickly capture millions of data points within minutes, providing comprehensive data of the building or site.

  • Fast collection of site data with the highest-quality, survey-grade laser scanners
  • Expedite planning and design with accurate as builts
  • Capture exact dimensions and measurements of your project site
  • Eliminate site disruptions and revisits
  • Receive precise point clouds, 2D CAD drawings, and 3D BIM models to improve collaboration and coordination
  • Tour the location, add digital notes, and even measure with a virtual tour
  • Reduce project risks, change orders, delays, and costs

What Can Be Created from the Point Cloud?

Point clouds can be transformed into custom 2D CAD drawings, 3D BIM models, 3D mesh models, TruViews, and virtual tours, delivering the exact dimensions, locations, and layout of your site.

  • Point clouds can be delivered in a wide range of file types to be used in many different software packages, including Bentley, Autodesk, and more.
  • 2D CAD Drawings can be generated by importing the point cloud data into AutoCAD software to create floor plans, sections, and elevations to use for construction planning and building modifications.
  • 3D BIM Models deliver a geometrically accurate model of a building or site, capturing infrastructure, spatial relationships, maintenance information, product models, as well as additional property and layer information.
  • 3D Mesh Models allow you to view a site’s geometry inside a CAD environment without having to navigate a point cloud.
  • TruViews are 3-dimensional photographs overlaid on top of the point cloud data. A TruView lets you navigate a site, add markups and GeoTags, plus visualize designs in context to check design models against real work conditions.
  • 3D Virtual Tours allow your team to virtually walk through a site or facility in minutes, take basic measurements, estimate clearances and distances, and add digital notes.

How Much Does 3D Laser Scanning Cost?

Customized quotes are developed for each client based on the scope of the project and the deliverable requested. The cost of 3D laser scanning can vary widely depending on your project scope. GPRS customizes every quote specific to your project’s needs. GPRS Project Managers use 3D laser scanners to capture every detail of your site, delivering building dimensions, locations, and layout with 2-4 millimeter accuracy. This can include the aboveground structural, architectural, and MEP features, plus underground utility and concrete markings. Our Mapping & Modeling Team can deliver point clouds, 2D CAD drawings, 3D BIM models, 3D mesh model, TruViews, and Virtual Tours at any level of detail.

Why Choose GPRS?

You can trust our team to provide the best experience in laser scanning by walking you through the entire 3D laser scanning process from pre-planning through project completion.

We offer a consultative approach to project management, working with you to ensure our data, maps and models are the perfect solution for your project. The data delivered is accurate within 2-4 millimeters, and the maps and models provide complete as-built and location data.

Our elite team of Project Managers is required to complete an extensive training program before performing field services on your job site.

All GPRS team members work together to help you Intelligently Visualize The Built World® to help you reduce change orders and costs so that your projects come in on time and on budget. We are the best at what we do because it is all we do.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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3 Ways Laser Scanning is Used in Construction

3D laser scanning is one of the most innovative additions to the construction industry’s toolbox, as it has changed the way that buildings are captured, designed, and managed.

3D laser scanning is one of the most innovative additions to the construction industry’s toolbox, as it has changed the way that buildings are captured, designed, and managed.

Used to document every detail – big or small – of an existing building, an industrial laser scanner improves project coordination and collaboration. This type of scanner makes use of laser light to create 3D renders, commonly known as point clouds.

The millions of data points in a point cloud are used for mapping out the dimensions of buildings. High-accuracy results make laser scanning a preferred technology in construction. From helping with design and planning, an industrial laser scanner is a huge asset that makes the entire construction process more efficient.

A 3D laser scanner sits in front of a building that is under construction.
3D laser scanning is one of the most innovative additions to the construction industry’s toolbox, as it has changed the way that buildings are captured, designed, and managed.

How Can 3D Laser Scanning Be Used by Construction Companies?

Design Planning and Quality Assurance

Every construction project starts with design, and integrating 3D laser scanning at this early stage can be incredibly advantageous. Scan-to-BIM technology provides construction professionals with detailed insights crucial for accurate design planning. Conducting a scanner survey can significantly enhance quality assurance throughout the design process.

When a building is either completed or still under construction, laser scanning can be used to validate the design against the physical structure. This process captures precise details of the building, allowing contractors to compare these with the original plans. As a result, they can verify that the construction aligns with the design and promptly address any discrepancies. This proactive approach ensures that any necessary corrections are identified and implemented efficiently, maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the project.

Planning for Renovation

One of the more obvious uses of laser scanning is in renovation projects. Architects who make designs for such projects need to base them off the pre-existing components of the building. By using 3D laser scan data, architects can get an accurate representation of the as-built dimensions. At the same time, the 3D point cloud data provided by a laser scanner will likely show flaws and capture details that even a site survey may not uncover. With the exceptional accuracy provided by 3D laser scanners, architects can create better designs and minimize the risk of change orders.

Creating 3D BIM Models

Laser scanning is instrumental in creating detailed 3D BIM models. Through scan-to-BIM technology, construction professionals can generate precise digital representations of physical spaces, useful for a variety of applications beyond just building. These 3D models are especially valuable for architects, as they facilitate more efficient communication with stakeholders and investors.

Traditional construction drawings can be challenging for those without technical expertise to interpret. By presenting digital twins, virtual models, or three-dimensional representations, architects can more effectively convey complex information. Laser scanners excel in capturing accurate data quickly, making them an ideal tool for producing the visualizations needed to engage and inform key stakeholders throughout the project.

GPRS Provides Industry-Leading 3D Laser Scanning Services

GPRS 3D Laser Scanning Services provide 2-4mm accuracy by capturing 2 million data points per second, for efficient planning, design, and construction. And our in-house Mapping & Modeling Team can export your GPR utility locates & concrete scans, 3D laser & photogrammetry data, and video pipe inspection reports to create accurate existing condition as-builts – above and below ground – to give you the accurate information you need in a format you can easily work with and share to keep your project on time, on budget, and safe.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a design intent and as-built model?

Design Intent: Deliverables will be shown as a “best fit” to the point cloud working within customary standards, such as walls being modeled 90 degrees perpendicular to the floor, pipes and conduit modeled straight, floors and ceilings modeled horizontal, and steel members modeled straight. This will produce cleaner 2D drawings and allow for easier dimensioning of the scan area. The deliverables will not exactly follow the scan data to maintain design intent standards. Most clients will want this option for their deliverables.

As-Builts: Deliverables will be shown as close as possible to actual field capture. If walls are out of plumb, pipes and conduit show sag, floors and ceilings are unlevel, steel members show camber, etc., this will be reflected in the model. This will produce reality-capture deliverables, but 2D drawings may show “crooked” or out of plumb lines, floors will be sloped or contoured, steel members may show camber, twisting or impact damage. Dimensioning will not be as easy due to elements of the building being out of plumbness/levelness, etc. This option should be used when the exact conditions of the scan area is imperative, such as when the data is being used for fabrication, forensic analysis, bolt hole patterns, camber/sag/deformation analysis, and similar needs.

What is As-Built Documentation?

As-built 3D documentation is an accurate set of drawings for a project. They reflect all changes made during the construction process and show the exact dimensions, geometry, and location of all elements of the work.

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What are the Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning?

3D laser scanning is fast, accurate, and reliable. Three-dimensional data provides exact measurements of sites with a level of confidence and speed not possible with traditional tools.

3D laser scanning is the most effective solution for documenting the existing conditions of any environment. The technology produces highly accurate as-built digital measurements and models quickly and easily for use in construction and engineering projects.

3D laser scanners use LiDAR technology to capture millions of data points of a project site. Scans are taken in multiple positions from varying viewpoints and processed into a point cloud. CAD technicians use the point cloud to develop 2D drawings and 3D models to expedite analysis, design planning, prefabrication, and facility modifications.

Side-by-side photos of a 3D laser scanner in a football stadium and in front of a church; a multi-story building, and a GPRS Project Manager standing with a 3D laser scanner in front of a NASA building.
3D laser scanning is the most effective solution for documenting the existing conditions of any environment.

What Are the Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning?

  • Fast, Accurate Data Collection: A single laser scan captures millions of 3D data points per second, providing incredibly rich detail of a building or project site. Datasets are dimensionally accurate, measurable and shareable, expediting project planning and execution.
  • Eliminates Revisits and Disruption: Sites are captured in high detail the first time, eliminating the need for return visits. High speed data collection expedites projects that require minimal disruption.
  • Reduces Costs and Change Orders: Accurate design plans are produced from the start expediting field work and reducing change orders, delays and costs.
  • Safe and Non-Contact: 3D laser scanners collect data on tripods from a distance in hard-to-reach or hazardous locations, keeping workers out of harm’s way. The non-intrusive nature keeps historic sites and artifacts untouched.
  • Improves Communication: Communication is improved, teams can discuss plans while each has access to the same information, creating a more dynamic working environment.
A 3D model.
GPRS’ in-house Mapping & Modeling Team can export your GPR utility locates & concrete scans, 3D laser & photogrammetry data, and video pipe inspection reports to create accurate existing condition as-builts – above and below ground – to give you the accurate information you need in a format you can easily work with and share to keep your project on time, on budget, and safe.

Why Use GPRS 3D Laser Scanning Services?

3D laser scanning is fast, accurate and reliable. Three-dimensional data provides exact measurements of sites with a level of confidence and speed not possible with traditional tools. There’s no better way to drive decision making than to have accurate and intelligent, real-time data.

GPRS 3D Laser Scanning Services provide 2-4mm accuracy by capturing 2 million data points per second, for efficient planning, design, and construction. And our in-house Mapping & Modeling Team can export your GPR utility locates & concrete scans, 3D laser & photogrammetry data, and video pipe inspection reports to create accurate existing condition as-builts – above and below ground – to give you the accurate information you need in a format you can easily work with and share to keep your project on time, on budget, and safe.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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9 Scan-To-BIM Terms You Need To Know

If you’re here, you’re probably researching scan-to-BIM workflows for your business and getting a little mixed up with all the three-letter acronyms and specialized terminology. Don’t worry – this is a common problem in the 3D technology field.
Scan-to-BIM model

A mini glossary of basic scan-to-BIM terms, essential BIM terminology, and the difference between BIM and other concepts like VDC and digital twins.

If you’re here, you’re probably researching scan-to-BIM workflows for your business and getting a little mixed up with all the three-letter acronyms and specialized terminology. Don’t worry – this is a common problem in the 3D technology field.

To help, this mini glossary will walk you through some basic ideas you need to know so you can continue your research. We’ll cover basic scan-to-BIM ideas, get deeper into some essential BIM terminology, and then discuss the difference between BIM and similar ideas like VDC or digital twins.

Let's get started.

Part 1: Breaking Down Scan-To-BIM

BIM

This acronym can be confusing, because it refers to two separate but interrelated ideas. The first is Building Information Modeling, or the methodology of creating a building information model. The second is the outcome, or the Building Information Model itself.

BIM is a data set that includes information about the physical and functional characteristics of the building. It usually takes the form of a 3D model linked to a database with a variety of information.

BIM includes geometric models of individual building elements, like doors, windows, beams and so on. This geometric data is linked to information like materials used, the location and size of rooms and spaces, and documents related to the building and its history. BIM can also include data about how these individual elements relate to each other, and even how they function within building-wide systems such as MEP.

In short, BIM is a smart 3D model that offers a holistic view of a building to enable stakeholder collaboration. It enables a single stakeholder to make decisions at various stages in the building lifecycle and update the central model so other stakeholders can always have the latest information.

SCAN-TO-BIM

The process of using laser scanners to capture dimensional information for an existing building, and then using that information to create a BIM model.

Scan-to-BIM is becoming very popular in AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) because it solves many common problems in the building information modeling process.

For instance: Many older buildings lack the up-to-date 3D CAD (Computer-Aided Design) models, or even 2D CAD drawings, needed to create a BIM model. A scan-to-BIM process makes it possible to produce a detailed, accurate model. It can also help when a new building’s physical state differs from the original model. You can just scan the changes and update the model as necessary.

Part 2: BIM Terminology

BIM LEVEL

Refers to the BIM’s maturity level, as well as the extent of stakeholder collaboration within the BIM.

Though there is no official standard for BIM level, it is generally divided into four levels. The scale starts at 0 and ends at 3.

BIM level 0 means a nearly complete absence of BIM, where stakeholders work in isolation and data is stored in 2D CAD models. This level is rare to non-existent.

BIM level 3 means full collaboration among all stakeholders. They work in a shared building information model in a centralized location, enabling them to eliminate possible conflicts. The model may include extra “dimensions” in addition to the 3D model, enabling it to represent scheduling, cost, and ongoing maintenance.

LOA

Level of accuracy. Refers to the acceptable tolerance range for the building measurements gathered during the capture process—as well as the tolerance range for how those measurements are represented in the model.

The U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD)—a non-profit standards organization—defines five levels in their LOA Specification.

LOA10 is the lowest level. It means an accuracy tolerance range between 5cm and 15cm. This might be suitable for a rough measurement, comparable to pacing off a space.

LOA50 is the highest level. It means an accuracy tolerance range between 0mm and 1mm, which approaches metrology levels of accuracy. This might be suitable for documenting artifacts on a heritage project.

The best LOA for any scan-to-BIM project will depend on the needs of the stakeholders. It will also determine the scan and modeling methodologies you use. LOA20 and LOA30 are the most common ranges specified for scan-to-BIM workflows.

LOD

Level of development. Refers to the depth of the information included in the model. BIMForum, a non-profit standards organization, defines four levels in its LOD specification.

LOD 100 is the lowest level. It means a BIM might include a generic representation of a light fixture, information about its cost, and a general indication of placement.

LOD 400 is the highest level. It means that light fixture would be modeled in high enough detail that you could fabricate a replacement. The BIM might also include information about the model of the fixture, its exact placement and orientation, and even the details of its mounting.

As with LOA, the best LOD for any scan-to-BIM project will depend on the needs of the stakeholders. Once that target LOD is established, this information will help determine the scan and modeling methodologies you use to produce the BIM itself.

What is the difference between Level of Detail and Level of Development?

How is BIM Different From…

3D CAD MODEL

A 3D CAD model is a spatial model produced in computer-assisted drawing (CAD) software.

Like BIM, a 3D CAD model is a way to represent a real-world structure. However, 3D CAD uses “dumb” lines to represent building elements. The lines are not grouped together into objects and are not linked to a databased with other information about the building.

BIM, on the other hand, uses linked geometric “objects” to represent building elements. These objects are linked to information about the functional characteristics of the building, including the location of the element, its materials, how it relates to other building elements, and so on.

DIGITAL TWIN

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or process. In relation to BIM, a digital twin can also serve as a functional model of a building.

It is much like a mature BIM in that it requires detailed dimensional information about the building, as well as data about its physical elements and systems.

However, a digital twin is a step further than BIM in that it augments this asset data with dynamic, often real-time, data from a variety of sources. It might include information on changes to equipment, or even data streams from internet of things (IoT) sensors that can measure information such as temperature, gas levels, or motion.

This extra information makes the digital twin useful for a broader range of applications than a BIM, such as cost simulations for proposed changes, or deep analysis of day-to-day operations.

VIRTUAL DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION - VDC

The term refers to the use of digital models – including BIMs – to enable design and construction stakeholders to work on building construction projects virtually.

Specifically, virtual design and construction (VDC) is a way to plan buildings and coordinate work before crews get on site. The discipline might use a BIM to plan pricing, schedule to manage dependencies across multiple trades, and perform clash detection.

This concept is related to building information modeling but differs in the intended outcome. Where BIM is focused on the creation of the digital model itself. VDC describes the methodology of working building models during the design and construction process.

Written by Sean Higgins | May 25, 2021

Sean Higgins is an independent technology writer, former trade publication editor, and outdoors enthusiast. He believes that clear, buzzword-free writing about 3D technologies is a public service.

Thank you to NavVis for allowing us to post this blog article on scan-to-BIM terms.

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All You Need To Know About Point Clouds

A point cloud is the set of 3D data points captured by a laser scanner. It contains the X, Y, and Z coordinates of every visible detail of the project site. The data captured will look like a pixelated, digital version of the asset.

What is a Point Cloud in Laser Scanning?

A point cloud represents the initial step in creating an accurate 3D model of the real world. Essentially, it’s a collection of spatial points that serves as the foundation for digital reality, forming a detailed map that can be processed into 3D models of almost any object. On a large scale, this can include buildings, factories, manufacturing plants, civil infrastructure, historical sites, and much more.

3D models derived from point cloud data are increasingly used across various industries for visualization, planning, and customization. This data is revolutionizing the way buildings are designed and maintained, enhancing the accuracy of information available to everyone from architects to operations managers.

To deepen our understanding of this vital technology, let's explore the fundamentals of the point cloud process, including:

  • What does point cloud scanning entail
  • How it’s generated
  • Some ways that point cloud data is used
  • How we predict it will be used in the near future
3D laser scanning point cloud
A point cloud represents the initial step in creating an accurate 3D model of the real world.

What is a LiDAR Point Cloud?

A point cloud is a collection of an enormous number of measurements: a set of data points or coordinates in three dimensions. The measurements are made by 3D laser scanners and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. A laser measures where light hits surfaces within its line of sight. To give a sense of the huge number of points taken, the Leica RTC360 3D Laser Scanner has a measuring rate of up to two million points per second. It can create an HDR-colored 3D point cloud of its environment in under two minutes. Let’s look at how it creates a point cloud in more detail.

How is a Point Cloud Made?

With a 3D laser scanner, data collection is both portable and precise. Typically, the scanner is mounted on a tripod, positioned within view of the area to be measured, and operated by a technician to initiate the process. For instance, the RTC360 scanner features a high-speed rotating mirror that facilitates rapid measurements. Additionally, its Visual Inertial System (VIS) utilizes advanced algorithms to determine the scanner's relative position and orientation as it moves between different setups.

Various laser scanning systems are used to generate point clouds. Among these, GPRS employs industry-leading Leica professional-grade laser scanners, renowned for capturing top-quality 3D data. Leica Geosystems offers a diverse range of 3D terrestrial laser scanners tailored to different requirements. For example, the Leica ScanStation P-Series is ideal for long-range scanning from a safe distance, while the portable Leica RTC360 excels in mobility and speed. These advanced tools ensure the highest quality data capture for any project.

3D laser scanning point cloud
The technology to create and process point clouds is getting easier to use.

How Do You Use Point Cloud Scan Data?

A point cloud needs to be processed to create a complete 3D composite point cloud of the existing conditions. In reality capture technology, you need to register – or stitch together – the final data.

Point cloud registration is where you align overlapping point clouds – if you moved your laser scanner to different positions on site to capture a larger or more complete scene – to cover gaps formed from line of site shadows of the area.

Some of the points collected won’t be needed, and further processing can filter and refine your data. For example, if you scan a shopping center, you will capture a lot of people moving around. Cleaning the data via scanning techniques or other post-processing steps in final registration will remove these undesired ghost objects so that you have a cleaner, smaller, and less noisy dataset.

What is a Point Cloud Used For?

Point cloud data can be utilized in various formats, starting as a raw point cloud file with its associated HDR images. This data can then be transformed into 3D objects, such as surfaces, triangulated meshes, or vector objects like 3D solid models. Additionally, it can be converted into 2D drawings or customized deliverables for diverse analytical needs. For project storage and web-based 3D data visualization and collaboration, the new Cyclone ENTERPRISE serves as a centralized source of truth for project stakeholders.

Once point cloud data is converted into a composite 3D entity, its advantages become apparent, varying by industry and application but primarily hinging on the precision of site data. Here are a few industry-specific examples of point cloud applications:

  • Architecture and Engineering: Professionals can leverage Revit software to accurately create a Building Information Model (BIM) of an existing structure or to update original design models with real-world conditions after construction. For retrofit design projects, a virtual site experience allows for conflict checking against existing conditions, helping to prevent critical errors that could delay or halt a project.
  • Public Safety: In safety projects, point cloud data facilitates precise modeling. For instance, in flood prevention efforts, laser scanning can be used to assess the impact of proposed safety measures and landscaping experiments.
  • Archaeology: Point cloud data offers detailed information on the current state of site structures, aiding in conservation and restoration planning. It also helps researchers develop a clearer understanding of a site’s scale and layout.

Each application highlights the significant impact of accurate point cloud data across different fields.

3D laser scanning point cloud
Engineers can use Revit software to efficiently and accurately create a Building Information Model (BIM) of an existing structure.

What Will the Future Look Like for Point Clouds?

The technology to create and process point clouds is getting easier to use. Ten years ago, it would take two or three surveyors a day to create a point cloud on a construction site using a laser scanner the size of a chest freezer. Today, much more portable scanners like the Leica RTC360 can obtain accurate scans within minutes.

Point clouds are becoming more accessible to more industries – and more companies within those industries. In areas like construction, where point clouds are commonly used, the scale of what’s captured will increase. We can create a digital reality from a whole city mixing airborne and earthbound data captures, creating opportunities for the future of urban planning.

Point cloud scanners will be used in more industries via visualization by virtual reality (VR). VR based on point cloud data will be more realistic, more accurate, and more engaging. VR has a wide range of applications, including allowing you to view environments that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous to access.

Innovation will continue at pace in reality capture technology, and in point cloud processing. It’s common for scanners to be used in UAVs and mobile mapping solutions. In the future, terrestrial laser scanners will become more automated, with users needing to spend less time on site.

Using robotics, scans could be carried out by a specialist surveyor on the other side of the world. Looking even further into the future, a world of ‘big point cloud data’ machine learning and artificial intelligence will eventually automate the interpretation of point clouds. Computers will be programmed to detect certain objects in models as part of an intelligent workflow, saving a huge amount of time and increasing the amount of data that it’s possible to process.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

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What is a Digital Twin?

A digital twin is a virtual model that accurately represents an existing physical space. It digitally represents a building’s architecture, structure and systems. The most useful purpose of digital twin technology occurs during the construction design and planning process.

A digital twin is an exact virtual representation of a physical space. It accurately models a building’s architecture, structure, and systems. This technology is particularly valuable during the construction design and planning phases, allowing for the anticipation of improvements, enhancement of efficiencies, and optimization of workflows. These benefits can be directly applied to the actual physical asset. In the digital twin environment, ideas can be explored and tested with minimal limitations. Additionally, digital twins are crucial after construction, linking the design process to ongoing building management and operations.

Examples of digital twins
A digital twin is an exact virtual representation of a physical space. It accurately models a building’s architecture, structure, and systems.

How Do You Create a Digital Twin?

  1. Define the Project Scope: The first step to creating a digital twin is defining the project scope. What exact details of the space do you want to capture? Provide a clear description of the project scope. This will ensure all necessary project information is collected while onsite the first time.
  2. Determine Data Collection Tools: Digital twin data collection is achieved through various 3D laser scanning systems. GPRS leverages top-tier Leica laser scanners, capable of capturing up to 2 million measurement points per second with an accuracy of 2-4 mm over distances reaching up to 270 meters per scan.
  3. Select a Software: Choosing the right software is essential. A digital twin model can be constructed in Revit, AutoCAD, ReCap, Navisworks, Civil 3D, or BIM 360, among other software, with the millions of sub-centimeter data points collected. The model will typically be created natively in whatever software is used by the end user, and most software packages are not interchangeable. So, if it’s modeled in one software, not all features may be available or work in a different software.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Twins?

Adopting digital twin technologies can significantly enhance company workflows, boost employee collaboration and communication, and eliminate tedious manual tasks. For design planning, these virtual models integrate financial data related to materials and labor costs, providing a comprehensive view that aids in making informed decisions quickly.

With access to vast amounts of real-time data and analytics, businesses can improve decision-making processes. For physical systems, a digital twin offers an immediate and detailed perspective of current conditions, accessible from anywhere. This capability allows users to remotely monitor system performance and pinpoint issues, facilitating precise predictive maintenance scheduling and reducing overall maintenance costs.

Ultimately, digital twins enable companies to operate more efficiently, reduce expenses, and stay competitive. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, digital transformation can boost productivity by up to 15% and cut costs by up to 6%. For construction firms, digital twins can be instrumental in managing high material costs and limited budgets.

Does GPRS Offer Digital Twin Services?

GPRS is a leading 3D laser scanning and Scan-to-BIM service provider. We are experts in design planning and construction technologies, offering digital twin services to architectural, engineering, and construction professionals. We help clients leverage the latest advancements in construction technology to improve project planning.

What can we help you visualize?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is more than just a 3D model. 3D BIM scanning gives engineers the ability to manage the building data throughout its whole lifecycle. It provides accurate spatial relationships and manufacturer details, as well as geographic information and other pertinent aspects of the building.

What if my project is limited within the physical setting?

Some projects require special applications due to limitations within the physical setting. This is often due to line-of-sight issues and when a scan must be done safely from the ground or with precautionary distance. Some of these applications would include above-ceiling MEP features in hospitals where it is necessary to maintain negative airflow, or interstitial spaces that are congested with limited access. Since laser scanning is a non-contact measurement tool (i.e. we can scan from a safe distance or location), this becomes a powerful tool for solving these complex challenges.

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A Complete Guide to the 3D Laser Scanning Process

This guide will provide information on 3D laser scanning, terrestrial laser scanners, and the steps of the laser scanning process.

3D laser scanners are powerful tools that can map a space with precise 3D detail. This level of reality capture offers significant benefits for various construction and engineering projects.

To help you understand more about 3D laser scanning, terrestrial laser scanners, and the steps involved in the laser scanning process, we've put together a detailed guide below.

A GPRS Project Manager works on a 3D laser scanner.
3D laser scanners are powerful tools that can map a space with precise 3D detail.

What is 3D Laser Scanning?

3D laser scanning utilizes LiDAR technology to precisely capture the three-dimensional data of a structure or site. LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, operates by emitting light as a pulsed laser to measure distances to a target. When these laser pulses bounce back to the scanner, the distances are recorded, mapping the spatial geometry of the area. This process collects millions of measurement points, each with x, y, and z coordinates, forming what is known as a point cloud.

The intricacy of these data points allows for exact measurements between any two points within the point cloud. This data can then be converted into 2D CAD drawings or 3D BIM models, which are invaluable for construction and engineering projects. To explore more about 3D laser scanning, click here.

What Scanners are Used for Data Collection?

A terrestrial laser scanner is used for data collection, as they can easily document vertical structures, such as buildings and facilities. These scanners sit on a tripod and can take 1-3 minutes to complete each scan, depending on the project requirements. Terrestrial laser scanners are known to produce the most accurate point clouds because they are stationary. Note that a laser scanner can only capture what is in its field of view. Scanners are positioned around a site and take individual scans from varying viewpoints to capture complete site data. The captured points record everything from surface detail and texture, to color, creating a direct representation of the scanned project site. Click here to read more about the equipment used for data collection.

What are the Steps of the 3D Laser Scanning Process?

3D laser scanning captures as-built documentation of buildings and sites with 2-4mm precision in most cases. Project Managers need extensive knowledge and experience to understand the 3D laser scanning process and use it successfully. GPRS’ SIM-certified Project Managers follow these steps when conducting 3D laser scans:

  1. Define Project Scope: The Project Manager meets with each client to understand their project scope and provide optimal solutions based on the project requirements.
  2. Conduct Site Walk: The Project Manager walks the project site to familiarize themselves with the scope and create a plan for complete data capture. The Project Manager will ensure coverage of the scan area from all angles and work around obstructions. This process includes determining the scanner set-up locations, planning the workflow, documenting obstacles and intricate MEP, and estimating the time needed on site.
  3. Capture Data: The Project Manager positions the scanner around the site, taking individual scans from varying viewpoints to capture complete site data.
  4. Registration: The individual scans are aligned and fitted together. GPRS’ in-house Mapping and Modeling Team registers and processes the point cloud, removing noise and setting the coordinate system to provide the most precise measurements.
  5. Quality Checks: A registration QA/QC check is performed to ensure all the scans fit together, so the point cloud and models have tight lines and accurate measurements.
  6. CAD/BIM Development: Point cloud, 2D drawings, and 3D models are created in-house, and QA/QC checked to ensure precision. Maps and models can be provided at any level of detail in a variety of formats, including Revit, AutoCAD, ReCap, Navisworks, Civil 3D, BIM 360, A360, and JetStream Viewer.
  7. Transfer Data: Data is efficiently transferred to clients via SiteMap®, Sharefile, Cloud platforms, or mailed on a hard drive.

GPRS 3D Laser Scanning Services offer an accurate solution to obtaining on-site measurement data for construction, engineering, and design projects. Terrestrial laser scanners are known to produce the most accurate point clouds. Our Project Managers ensure successful data capture, registration, and CAD/BIM deliverable creation.

From skyscrapers to water treatment plants, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a digital twin?

A digital twin is a highly complex virtual model that is the exact counterpart (or twin) of a physical object. GPRS uses 3D laser scanners to collect real-time data for a building or facility and create a digital duplicate. Data can be easily visualized, measured and analyzed. Digital twins can be used to improve efficiencies, optimize workflows, and detect problems before they occur.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR is a remote sensing method used to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of an object and its surface characteristics. Much like radar systems that employ radio waves to measure objects, LiDAR uses lasers to calculate the distance of objects with light pulses from 3D laser scanners, gathering 3D information about an object.

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The Importance of Precise As-Built Drawings When Integrating Prefabricated Construction

Design-build projects are incorporating prefab components to speed construction, avoid weather-related delays, and mitigate risk, but accuracy can be an issue.

Prefabricated components are becoming increasingly popular on design-build jobsites throughout the construction industry. Unlike modular homes or other factory-built components manufactured by prefabricated construction companies, design-build projects are incorporating prefabricated components into their projects to speed construction, avoid weather-related delays, and mitigate risk.

“Whatever we can do in the factory, we move to the factory because it’s a much more controlled environment,” Amit Haller, CEO of modular construction firm Veev, recently shared with Construction Dive in an article focused on the ways prefab components can potentially make jobsites safer.

However, the speed and convenience of incorporating prefabricated components requires extreme precision. Measurements and existing conditions documentation must be as accurate as possible to avoid clashes, reworks, and delays. Because the successful integration of traditional construction methods and prefabricated components hinges entirely on precise measurements.

Prefabricated concrete slabs like these are part of the trend toward more component construction to streamline workflows and timelines, but without accurate on site as builts, they can hurt more than they help.

What Are the Most Commonly Used Prefabricated Components?

What kind of prefabricated components you use in construction depends on your needs. Everything from floor or roof trusses and concrete slabs to modular office buildings, to complex wind turbines can be premade to spec when your measurements are accurate:

Bridges – With the explosion in infrastructure projects in the U.S., prefab girders, beams, pier caps, and even full deck components can be built remotely, shipped in, and installed

Paving/Roads – In the same vein as the bridge components, entire pavement segments can be prefabricated and delivered to a road project for quick installation

Drainage & Sewer – Water and Wastewater managers can save time and money by utilizing prefabricated concrete pipes, boxes, and culverts, especially when they need to route flow to avoid other infrastructure

Buildings – There are a wide variety of preconstructed/prefabricated materials in use for design-build projects. Some of these include:

• Steel framing

• Load-bearing roof & floor trusses

• Walls (interior & exterior)

• Staircases & railings

There are many more examples of prefabricated components – like wind turbines and telecommunications towers – but those listed above are the most common and sought after.

Why Accurate Measurements Matter

In prefabricated construction, components are designed to fit together with minimal adjustment on-site. This demands precision in both the manufacturing of the components and the measurements taken on-site where they will be assembled.

Enhancing Efficiency and Reducing Waste

Accurate measurements prevent the expense and delays of clashes, rework, and change orders. Misaligned or poorly fitting components can undermine the efficiency that integrating prefabricated components aims to achieve. When prefabricated components are manufactured to precise specifications and those specifications match the on-site measurements, installation is streamlined.

Ensuring Structural Integrity

The structural integrity of prefabricated buildings relies on the precise alignment and fit of each component. Any discrepancy between the design and the actual measurements can compromise the building’s safety and performance. While true of all construction, this is particularly important in public infrastructure projects like roads and bridges that have to support hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually. Accurate measurements ensure that all parts align correctly, maintaining the intended load paths and structural behavior.

A GPRS Project Manager utilizes a 3D laser scanner to capture accurate existing conditions.
GPRS utilizes multiple complimentary technologies, including Matterport and 3D laser (LiDAR) scanners to provide measurements as accurate as 2-4mm.

The Vital Role of As-Built Drawings

As-built drawings, also referred to as plan views, record drawings, or existing conditions documentation are intended to be comprehensive records that reflect the actual conditions of a project after completion, including all deviations from the original plans. The accuracy of these documents is indispensable for several reasons:

  1. Facilitating Future Renovations & Maintenance: 
    As-built drawings provide a precise map of a building’s current state, crucial for any future renovations or maintenance. They allow engineers and contractors to understand the exact placement and specifications of existing elements, reducing the risk of damaging essential components or systems during modifications.
  1. Legal & Compliance Issues: 
    As-built drawings may serve as a legal document that verifies the completed work aligns with regulatory requirements and contractual obligations. This can be essential in resolving disputes, securing final approvals, and ensuring compliance with building codes and standards.
  2. Emergency Preparedness and Risk Mitigation: 
    Accurate as-builts can serve as the basis for accurate floor plans that provide crucial escape routes, gathering points, and shelter-in-place locations for staff and facility visitors, and can provide a roadmap to first responders in an emergency situation. Providing accurate emergency planning documents can assist insurers for your facility and prove your commitment to safety.
  3. Preventing Clashes and Errors:
    One of the primary uses of as-built drawings is to avoid clashes between different building systems. For example, they show the precise routing of electrical conduits, plumbing, and HVAC systems. This detailed documentation is critical in prefabricated construction, where components designed off-site must integrate perfectly with on-site systems. Misalignments can lead to significant project delays and increased costs due to the need for rework or redesign.

Impacts of Clashes and Inaccuracies

In prefabricated construction, any clash between components can have a ripple effect, causing delays and escalating costs. Inaccuracies in measurements and as-built documentation can impact a project in several ways:

Delays and Increased Costs

Clashes require immediate resolution, often involving redesign and re-manufacture of components, leading to project delays and increased costs. According to industry insights, such delays can add up to 10-20% to the project costs and extend timelines by several weeks or even months.

Safety Risks

Inaccurate as-builts can pose serious safety risks. If components do not fit as intended, it can lead to structural weaknesses or the failure of safety systems. Accurate documentation ensures that all parts of the building comply with safety standards and function as designed.

Compromised Quality

Quality in prefabricated construction is highly dependent on precision. Any deviation from the specified measurements or plans can compromise the quality of the finished building. Ensuring high-quality outcomes requires accurate and up-to-date as-built drawings that reflect every change made during construction.

Before making the decision to include prefabricated components in your design-build project, it’s suggested that you run a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether prefabrication is a trend your project needs to jump on. If you decide to utilize modular or prefab components on your job, it is mission-critical that you hire a professional infrastructure visualization company to produce accurate as-builts, so you can be sure what’s built remotely will slide into place on site without issue.

GPRS specializes in Intelligently Visualizing The Built World® for customers nationwide. What can we help you visualize?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is precast construction and how does it differ from traditional construction methods?

Precast construction is another name for prefabrication and involves casting building components, such as walls and beams, in a controlled factory environment before transporting them to the construction site for assembly, which contrasts with traditional construction where components are typically built on-site. This method enhances quality control and reduces on-site labor and construction time. Learn how you can remove bottlenecks and speed project timelines, here.

How does the timeline for a project differ when using precast/prefabricated components compared to traditional methods?

According to some construction experts, using precast or prefabricated components can significantly shorten the project timeline, as manufacturing of components can occur simultaneously with site preparation, leading to faster assembly on-site and reducing overall construction time by up to 50% compared to traditional methods. Learn more about how GPRS can provide 2-4mm accurate measurements, here.

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7 Tips Before 3D Laser Scanning

Preparing project information before laser scanning can bring huge benefits. At GPRS, we have turned our experience into advice to make your project successful.
7 Tips Before 3D Laser Scanning

7 Tips Before 3D Laser Scanning

Preparing project information before laser scanning can bring huge benefits. At GPRS, we have turned our experience into advice to make your project successful. Here are 7 tips to read before you begin laser scanning.

1. Communicate the intended use of the laser scan data

The first step in using laser scanning is to communicate how the data will be utilized. Will it assist in design engineering? Verify existing conditions? Coordinate mechanical trades during the construction phase? Retrofit plant upgrades? Prefabricate building components? Adaptive reuse in architecture? With this information, we can advise you on the best method to approach the project. One common mistake is not to involve end users of the data. End users can consist of your technical team, architects, engineers or other consultants that will be utilizing the data. All stakeholders should have an involvement at the beginning of the project to ensure that the deliverables meet their needs and ensure the project’s success.

2. Communicate the environment where laser scanning is being applied

Be sure to communicate details of the physical space needing scanning. Is it interior or exterior space? Occupied or unoccupied? Finished space or demolished space? How many floors? Do you need the roof and the basement scanned? Are there any areas that are difficult to access, such as only being accessible by ladder? We need this information to prepare the best scanning plan while on site and ensure we have the appropriate equipment, tools, and personnel.

3. Determine scope of work

What exact details of the project space do you want to capture? Provide a clear description of the project scope. This will ensure we collect all necessary project information while onsite the first time. It will be time consuming and expensive to go back and collect missing information. Adding or changing scope onsite can be problematic if appropriate pre-planning is not performed. The necessary tools and equipment may not be available if the scope changes, potentially causing delays or change orders.

4. Determine the required deliverable

Do you just want the point cloud (raw scan data)? Do you want 2D CAD drawings or a 3D BIM model? Are you going to use it in AutoCAD or Revit or some other software? There are various types of software platforms used throughout the design and construction industry. Be sure to state the specific software, version and file format that you will be using the deliverables in. Do you want a fully-developed intelligent 3D BIM model or would a generic model suffice? Do you need 2D floor plans, elevations or reflected ceiling plans? Also, be sure to let us know if you want the final deliverables shipped on a hard drive or shared online. Keep in mind that data sizes can be in the hundreds of gigabytes into the terabytes so many users prefer having a drive shipped to them in lieu of trying to download and store such large files on their local machine.

5. BIM LOD (Level of Detail)

Know what space you want modeled and how detailed you want the modeling to be for each feature. Do you need all piping detailed, or pipes above a certain diameter? And know what features you want modeled. Do you need just walls, ceiling and floor, or do you need doors, windows, furniture, light fixtures, or other features – and how much detail do you need on each item? Is a generic window good enough for the project needs or do you need the exact window details? By defining LOD specifications for each area scanned, we can clearly communicate with each other without confusion for faster execution. Keep in mind that the greater detail and more features needed, especially finite details, will take longer and cost more to create the final deliverables.

6. Communicate the timeline to deliver the finished product

What is the project timeline? Data from laser scanning will be of little use if it’s not available at the crucial deadline. 2D CAD drawings and 3D BIM modeling requires technical expertise, it takes some time to create this from the point cloud data. Be sure to communicate the date you will need the finished deliverable. There is a saying that there are 3 types of service -- Good, Cheap and Fast, but you can only pick 2.

  • Good & Cheap -- Won’t be Fast
  • Fast & Good -- Won’t be Cheap
  • Cheap & Fast -- Won’t be Good

Try to provide reasonable needs and expectations to ensure your project meets your objectives. If you have a short timeline, is it possible to prioritize which features should be modeled first and ask GPRS to provide progress models along the way to allow the project to keep moving forward while the deliverables are completed to the needed specification.

7. Communicate site access

Communicate the best time to access the site for 3D laser scanning. Are you looking to scan a site that is restricted (like a processing plant) or one that can only be scanned at night (like an airport terminal)? Is there any safety training or security clearance requirements? GPRS will develop a site access plan to efficiently complete laser scanning. Our clients should make sure the site is ready for scanning, accessible, and that anyone who needs to meet with the GPRS Project Managers are notified prior to their arrival. The faster and more efficiently the Project Managers can get on and off site will reduce costs and avoid overages and change orders for extended trips or remobilizations.

GPRS has an experienced and dedicated laser scanning team. We understand laser scanning construction processes and technology. To maximize value and minimize cost, use the tips above to make sure we have a firm understanding of the project at hand.

Why Choose Us? The GPRS DIFFERENCE.

When you hire GPRS 3D laser scanning services, you are hiring the most accurate data collection experts in the business who will get the job done right – and fast – the first time. The point cloud data captured by 3D laser scanning is accurate within 2-4 millimeters and can be processed into custom 2D CAD drawings and 3D BIM models at any level of detail.

Learn how GPRS 3D Laser Scanning Services can Intelligently Visualize Your Built World.™

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5 Types Of Drawings Used In Building Construction

Construction drawings are critical to document owner expectations, communicate design intent and recommend work broken down by trade or discipline. Without them, visualization of the final project is impossible.

Construction drawings or 2D CAD drawings serve an important purpose in building construction. Usage of these two-dimensional depictions may include documenting existing conditions, proposing modifications, quantifying materials, and assessing compliance with local building codes. Construction drawings are critical to document owner expectations, communicate design intent and recommend work broken down by trade or discipline. Without them, visualization of the final project is impossible.

There are different types of construction drawings, and it could be confusing for someone without a construction background to differentiate all of them. Below are the five types of drawings used in building construction.

GPRS 2D Drawings for Construction
As-built drawings document the actual final construction completed.

1. Architectural Drawings

Architectural drawings detail the purpose of the space, how it is perceived, and how the occupant interacts with it. Efficient use, comfort, and safe egress are documented on these sheets. These drawings may also give a preview of other aspects of the design that will be documented in more detail by other design disciplines. Common drawings or details may include: floor plans, elevation views, building sections, wall details, and other vital details. Architectural drawings are often created using 2D or 3D architectural design software.

Architectural drawings specify general arrangement and a background of the facility. These drawings are often shared with other design professionals for them to quantify fees and detail discipline's specific features. These drawings are also critical for resolving issues prior to actual construction. Architectural drawings (or BIM models) are often used for performing location collaboration and clash detection with other disciplines. Without architectural drawings, there would be no clear directive on a building’s design, increasing the likelihood of change orders and budget overruns.

2. Structural Drawings

Structural drawings are engineering documents that focus on detailing the building’s support features. A structural drawing may include the size and type of members; dimensions for a concrete structure; information and details about reinforcement bars; and other data that affects construction.

3. Electrical Drawings

Sometimes called wiring diagrams, electrical drawings give a visual description of the electrical systems in a building and how they connect to the outside power grid. The purpose of an electrical drawing is to explain the electrical design to the electricians installing the system. It will also be used as a reference for future electrical repairs. Electrical drawings fall into one of several types: schematic, wiring, block, and pictorial.

4. Sanitary and Plumbing Drawings

A plumbing drawing provides a visual representation of the building’s plumbing system. It includes the exact location of pipes, valves and fixtures; and outlines how freshwater is supplied and how wastewater is discharged. This type of drawing is used to illustrate the engineering design to those contractors installing the building's plumbing system.

5. As-Built Drawings

As-built drawings, or finished drawings, document the actual final construction completed. As-built drawings may look different from the initial architectural and structural drawings since most designs need adjustments along the way. Regardless, as-built drawings are intended to document final construction. Since most architects and engineers are not involved in the day-to-day processes and are not aware of the changes made during construction, it is often up to the contractors to submit final as-built drawings. The nature of this final process makes initial as-built documents unreliable without laser scanning after construction is complete.

Conclusion

A construction project is a rather complicated one that involves a lot of work both before and after the actual construction. To complete a building construction project, different types of drawings are needed.

An architectural drawing, perhaps including a computer-rendered 3D architectural design, is needed first. Then, based on the initial architect’s plan, a structural drawing is submitted. After that, wiring and plumbing diagrams convey the design to the workers installing these systems. Lastly, an as-built drawing is compiled by the contractors to show the final project, including any changes and adjustments done to the initial design. Another way to capture the final as-built drawing is by 3D laser scanning the project site.

Why GPRS? The GPRS Difference.

With GPRS, clients can rest assured that our elite Project Managers use state-of-the-art 3D laser scanning technology to document accurate existing conditions information. Every GPRS Project Manager completes an extensive training program to ensure their competence in laser scanning equipment and field knowledge to provide the best possible results for every project.

We use industry-leading Leica survey-grade laser scanners to capture comprehensive point cloud data. The data produced is complete, clean, accurate, and well filtered with low range noise. Point clouds provide powerful and dynamic information for a project. By representing spatial data as a collection of x, y, and z coordinates, point clouds deliver large datasets that can be mined for information.

Our Mapping & Modeling Team transforms point clouds into 2D CAD drawings, 3D BIM models, 3D meshes, TruViews, and virtual tours of the highest quality standards. Partnering with GPRS means you recieve accurate as-built data to expedite project planning and reduce change orders, delays, and costs.

GPRS leads the industry – providing outstanding service and cutting-edge technology – keeping projects on time, reducing risks, and putting relationships with our clients first.

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How to Find Clogs or Other Defects in a Wastewater System

Wastewater systems are crucial for maintaining public health and environmental quality by transporting sewage and other waste away from homes and businesses to treatment facilities.

If you work in the water and wastewater systems world, having a simple way to explain the pitfalls of protecting this precious resource is important. If you are someone with little to no experience in water and wastewater infrastructure management, you may be in search of basic, and easy-to-understand information. GPRS offers you the following “wiki” on the industry and the biggest problems wastewater managers face – maintenance to control inflow and infiltration and contamination.

Wastewater systems are crucial for maintaining public health and environmental quality by transporting sewage and other waste away from homes and businesses to treatment facilities.

These systems are susceptible to problems such as clogs, defects, and other obstructions, which can lead to severe issues like cross bores, inflow/infiltration (I/I), and soil contamination. Identifying and addressing these problems promptly is essential to ensuring the efficient and safe operation of wastewater infrastructure.

Understanding Common Problems in Wastewater Systems

Clogs

Clogs are blockages that prevent the normal flow of wastewater through the system. They can be caused by various materials, including fats, oils, grease, sanitary products, and debris. Clogs can lead to backups, overflows, and potential health hazards.

Cross Bores

A cross bore occurs when a utility line, such as a gas or electric line, unintentionally intersects with a wastewater pipe during construction or installation. This can create a significant safety hazard, as it may lead to gas leaks or electrical faults.

Inflow/Infiltration

Inflow and infiltration (I/I) refer to the unintended entry of stormwater or groundwater into the wastewater system. Inflow typically enters through direct connections like downspouts or drains, while infiltration seeps in through cracks, joints, or defects in pipes. Excessive I/I can overwhelm the system, causing overflows and increasing treatment costs.

Soil Contamination

Soil contamination occurs when leaks or breaks in wastewater pipes allow untreated sewage to seep into the surrounding soil. This can pose serious environmental and health risks, contaminating groundwater and harming ecosystems.

A GPRS Project Manager lowers a push-fed sewer inspection scope into a manhole.
Promptly identifying and addressing problems with your wastewater infrastructure is essential to ensuring the efficient and safe operation of wastewater infrastructure.

Techniques for Detecting Clogs and Defects

Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) Inspection

CCTV inspection is a widely used method for examining the interior of wastewater pipes. It involves sending a small camera mounted on a flexible cable through the pipeline to capture real-time video footage.

How It Works:

The camera is inserted into the pipe through an access point, such as a manhole. It is then remotely controlled to navigate the pipe, capturing high-resolution images of the interior.

Advantages:

  • Detailed Visualization: Provides a clear view of the pipe’s condition, allowing for precise identification of clogs, cracks, and other defects
  • Non-Destructive: Does not require excavation or disruption of the surface
  • Documentation: Creates a record of the pipe’s condition for future reference

Procedure:

  • Preparation: Clean the pipeline using jetting or other methods to remove debris that may obstruct the camera
  • Insertion: Introduce the camera into the pipeline and begin the inspection
  • Analysis: Review the footage to identify any abnormalities, such as clogs, cross bores, or signs of I/I

Smoke Testing

Smoke testing is used to identify sources of inflow and infiltration by introducing non-toxic smoke into the wastewater system and observing where it exits.

How It Works:

Smoke is generated and blown into the sewer lines using a smoke machine. The smoke follows the path of least resistance, escaping through defects or improper connections.

Advantages:

  • Effective for I/I Detection: Quickly identifies areas where stormwater or groundwater is entering the system
  • Cost-Effective: Relatively inexpensive and easy to perform
  • Visible Results: Provides immediate, visible evidence of leaks or improper connections

Procedure:

  • Preparation: Notify residents and businesses in the area to prevent unnecessary alarm
  • Smoke Injection: Introduce smoke into the system using access points like manholes
  • Observation: Watch for smoke emerging from the ground, manholes, or building connections, indicating a potential defect

Dye Testing

Dye testing involves adding colored dye to the system to trace the flow of water and identify leaks or improper connections.

How It Works:

Dye is added to water sources suspected of contributing to inflow, such as roof drains or sump pumps. The dye’s path is then traced through the system to see where it appears.

Advantages:

  • Effective for Identifying Cross Connections: Useful in finding sources of inflow or cross bores
  • Visual Confirmation: Provides a clear visual indication of where water is entering or exiting the system
  • Non-Toxic: Uses harmless, biodegradable dyes

Procedure:

  • Dye Introduction: Add dye to suspected inflow sources
  • Observation: Monitor downstream points for the appearance of dye to identify improper connections or leaks

Acoustic Inspection

Acoustic inspection uses sound waves to detect changes in the flow or the presence of obstructions within the pipes.

How It Works:

Acoustic sensors are placed on the surface or inside access points to listen for variations in sound that indicate changes in flow or the presence of blockages.

Advantages:

  • Non-Invasive: No need for excavation or disruption of the pipeline
  • Real-Time Detection: Provides immediate feedback on the condition of the pipe
  • Effective for Clogs: Can detect blockages or changes in flow that suggest the presence of clogs

Procedure:

  • Sensor Placement: Position sensors at various points along the pipeline
  • Sound Analysis: Listen for changes in the acoustic signals that may indicate a clog or defect
  • Data Interpretation: Analyze the data to pinpoint the location and nature of the issue

Trenchless Technology

Trenchless technology encompasses various methods for inspecting and repairing pipes without extensive digging. This includes pipe bursting, sliplining, and cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) techniques.

How It Works:

These methods involve minimal excavation and use specialized equipment to repair or replace pipes from within.

Advantages:

  • Minimal Disruption: Reduces surface disruption and associated costs
  • Efficient Repairs: Allows for quick and effective repair of defects
  • Versatile: Applicable to various types of pipes and defects

Procedure:

  • Site Assessment: Evaluate the site and determine the appropriate trenchless method
  • Preparation: Set up equipment and access points for the chosen technique
  • Execution: Perform the repair or replacement using trenchless methods.

Addressing and Preventing Soil Contamination

Soil contamination from wastewater leaks can have serious environmental and health impacts. To address and prevent contamination:

  • Immediate Response: Promptly repair leaks and defective pipes to prevent further soil contamination
  • Monitoring: Regularly inspect and monitor the system for signs of leaks or defects
  • Protective Measures: Implement protective measures, such as pipe lining or coatings, to reduce the risk of leaks

GPRS Video Pipe Inspection is a sewer inspection service that uses industry-leading remote video cameras to assess conditions and prevent problems in water, sanitary and storm sewer, and lateral pipelines. Our NASSCO-certified Project Managers scope your sewers to locate clogs, identify cross bores, find structural defects & damages, and conduct lateral sewer line inspections. We provide you with comprehensive, interactive reporting that details every inch of your pipes to help you plan repairs, maintain your system integrity, and mitigate risk.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

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How to Locate an Underground Water Leak

Water leaks, especially those underground, pose significant challenges to water utility managers and property owners alike.

Water leaks, especially those underground, pose significant challenges to water utility managers and property owners alike.

Unnoticed or unresolved, these leaks can lead to substantial water loss, structural damage, and increased operational costs. In the realm of water management, non-revenue water (NRW) loss refers to water that is produced but never reaches the end user due to leaks, theft, or metering inaccuracies. It’s vital to locate underground water leaks using advanced techniques and tools such as acoustic leak detection and leak detection correlators, to mitigate NRW loss and keep your water infrastructure working for you.

Water bursting from a unearthed pipe.
It’s vital to locate underground water leaks using advanced techniques and tools such as acoustic leak detection and leak detection correlators, to mitigate non-revenue water (NRW) loss and keep your water infrastructure working for you.

Understanding Non-Revenue Water Loss

Non-revenue water loss is a critical issue in water management. It encompasses any water that does not generate revenue, primarily due to:

  • Leaks: Unintended water escape from the distribution network, which can occur in pipes, joints, or valves
  • Theft: Unauthorized connections or tampering with the water supply
  • Metering Inaccuracies: Faulty meters that do not accurately record water usage

Leaks are the most common cause of non-revenue water loss, particularly those that are underground and hard to detect. Identifying and fixing these leaks not only conserves water but also improves the efficiency of water distribution systems.

Signs of an Underground Water Leak

Before diving into detection techniques, it's essential to recognize the signs indicating a potential underground water leak:

  • Unexplained Water Bills: Sudden increases in water bills without a corresponding increase in usage
  • Wet Spots or Water Puddles: Persistent wet areas in your yard or around your property, especially during dry weather
  • Decreased Water Pressure: Noticing a drop in water pressure, indicating a possible leak in the supply line
  • Sound of Running Water: Hearing water running when all taps are closed can be a sign of a hidden leak
  • Cracks in Foundation: Structural damage like cracks in walls or floors may be due to water eroding the foundation
A GPRS Project Manager conducting leak detection services in a field.
GPRS’ water loss specialists have the equipment and expertise to locate your leak and provide insights into your water distribution system.

Techniques for Locating Underground Water Leaks

Acoustic Leak Detection

Acoustic leak detection is a popular method that involves listening for the sound of water escaping from pipes. This technique relies on specialized equipment to detect the acoustic vibrations generated by leaks.

How It Works: As water leaks from a pipe, it creates a distinct noise. Acoustic leak detection devices, such as ground microphones and listening rods, amplify these sounds, allowing technicians to pinpoint the leak’s location.

Equipment Used:

  • Ground Microphones: These are sensitive devices placed on the ground surface to listen for leak sounds
  • Listening Rods: These are used to directly contact exposed pipes and listen for leak vibrations

Procedure:

  • Investigate: Technicians investigate the area with ground microphones to identify the general vicinity of the leak
  • Pinpoint: Using listening rods or more focused ground microphones, they narrow down the precise location

Advantages:

  • Non-Invasive: Does not require digging or disruption of the surface
  • Accurate: Can pinpoint the exact location of leaks with high precision

Leak Detection Correlators

Leak detection correlators are advanced devices that use the time difference in sound waves traveling through the pipe to locate leaks.

How They Work: Two or more sensors are placed at access points along the pipeline. These sensors detect the noise from the leak and send data to a central unit. The correlator calculates the leak’s position based on the time delay of the sound waves reaching each sensor.

Equipment Used:

  • Sensors: Placed on pipe fittings or access points to capture leak noise
  • Central Unit: Analyzes data from the sensors to determine the leak location

Procedure:

  • Placement: Sensors are strategically placed on the pipeline at known access points
  • Data Collection: The sensors transmit noise data to the central unit
  • Correlation: The central unit processes the data to calculate the leak’s location based on the difference in sound wave arrival times

Advantages:

  • Highly Effective: Particularly useful for long or complex pipeline systems
  • Real-Time Data: Provides immediate feedback on the leak location

Other Methods

While acoustic leak detection and leak detection correlators are prominent techniques, other methods also play a role in locating underground water leaks:

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

How It Works: GPR sends radar pulses into the ground and measures the reflected signals to identify changes in the subsurface. This can detect buried pipelines and cavities caused by leaks.

Advantages: Useful for detecting leaks in non-metallic pipes and identifying subsurface anomalies.

Infrared Thermography

How It Works: Infrared cameras detect temperature variations on the surface caused by leaking water. Cold or warm spots can indicate the presence of water leaks.

Advantages: Non-invasive and effective for identifying leaks in heated or chilled water systems.

Locating an Underground Water Leak

Step 1: Confirm the Presence of a Leak

Before deploying advanced detection techniques, verify that a leak exists. Check your water meter for continuous movement when all water fixtures are off.

Step 2: Investigate the Area

Conduct a visual and acoustic evaluation of the suspected leak area. Look for visible signs and use ground microphones to listen for leak sounds.

Step 3: Use Advanced Detection Equipment

Deploy acoustic leak detection devices or leak detection correlators to pinpoint the leak’s location. Follow the specific procedures for each method to ensure accurate results.

Step 4: Validate and Repair

Once the leak is located, verify its position by minimal excavation or exposing the pipe. Proceed with the necessary repairs to fix the leak and restore the integrity of the water system.

Preventing Future Leaks

To minimize non-revenue water loss and prevent future leaks:

  • Regular Inspections: Schedule routine inspections and maintenance of your water distribution system
  • Pressure Management: Maintain optimal water pressure to reduce stress on pipes and fittings
  • Pipeline Monitoring: Use remote monitoring systems to detect early signs of leaks or pressure drops

GPRS’ water loss specialists have the equipment and expertise to locate your leak and provide insights into your water distribution system. We utilize a variety of industry-leading equipment and methods, including acoustic leak detectors, leak noise correlators, video pipe inspection, ground penetrating radar, and electromagnetic (EM) locating.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

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Leak Detection

The Benefits of Utility As-Built Creation

Accurate existing conditions documents streamline many important processes, both in construction and operations & maintenance (O&M).

Imagine attempting to build a house without a detailed plan.

It's nearly impossible, right? Unlike traditional blueprints, as-builts provide an accurate depiction of what exists rather than what was merely intended. These precise records of existing conditions streamline many critical processes in both construction and operations and maintenance.

In numerous fields, creating accurate utility as-builts is indispensable. These documents meticulously outline the exact locations and specifications of utilities such as electricity, water, gas, and telecommunications in a specific area. Whether you're involved in design-build construction, urban planning, or infrastructure management, utility as-builts are essential.

Utility lines being buried underground.
Creating accurate utility as-builts can help keep track of the complicated web of utilities buried throughout the country.

What Accurate Utility As-Builts Do For You

Accurate Documentation for Future Reference

Utility as-builts serve as invaluable references for future projects. Construction spans long periods, and having precise records ensures that maintenance, repairs, or expansions can be done efficiently. Engineers, architects, and planners rely on these as-builts to understand existing layouts, bypassing outdated or incomplete blueprints. GPRS excels in this, with a 99.8%+ accuracy rate in utility locating and mapping, offering CAD overlays and 3D models as needed.

Enhanced Safety Protocols

Safety in utility maintenance and construction is paramount. Detailed utility as-builts enhance safety by providing critical information about underground utilities, helping prevent accidental damage during excavation or construction. This minimizes risks to both workers and the public, especially with hazards like gas pipes or high-voltage lines.

Cost Efficiency

Accurate utility mapping helps avoid delays and expenses from accidental damage. It reduces errors, miscommunications, and accidents, which are costly. As-builts provide a single source of truth, reducing project interruptions and associated costs, including fines and legal liabilities. They also enable optimized resource allocation and scheduling.

Streamlined Project Management

Project managers depend on accurate data from utility as-builts for effective project planning and management. These documents help coordinate timelines and resolve conflicts with existing infrastructure early on, leading to smoother execution and fewer delays. Accurate measurements mean precise planning, material orders, and workflows.

Regulatory Compliance

Many regions require strict adherence to regulations for utility documentation and protection during construction. Utility as-builts serve as proof of compliance, ensuring projects respect existing infrastructure and meet legal standards.

Eliminate Miscommunications

When everyone on your team has access to the same accurate information, it creates a more cohesive work environment. Precise as-builts reduce the need for constant communication and site visits by providing a unified source of truth. GPRS’s SiteMap® platform makes it easy to share and access these documents, enhancing team collaboration.

Support for Asset Management

Utility providers and asset managers benefit from detailed as-builts that document the lifespan and condition of infrastructure assets. This facilitates proactive maintenance and asset management, helping to optimize schedules and extend the life of utilities.

Integration with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Modern as-builts often integrate with GIS platforms, allowing for spatial analysis, visualization, and seamless data sharing. This improves decision-making related to infrastructure planning and emergency response. GPRS provides a complimentary SiteMap® subscription with GIS integration, enhancing data accessibility and usability.

Environmental and Social Impact

Accurate utility as-builts reduce environmental impacts by minimizing accidental damage to underground utilities. This conserves resources and reduces waste from repairs or replacements. Reliable utility data also minimizes community disruptions and enhances social sustainability by preventing issues like contamination from utility strikes.

A 3D laser scanner sitting in a concrete slab pre-pour.
GPRS offers highly accurate as-builts, often within 2-4mm, delivered in various formats.

GPRS As a Solution

Traditional as-builts are often only "as-intended," not reflecting every change or update. GPRS, however, offers highly accurate as-builts, often within 2-4mm, delivered in various formats. Whether you need utility locates or a comprehensive mapping solution, GPRS provides services to keep your project safe, on time, and on budget. Our offerings include WalkThru 3D Virtual Tours, ProCap Progressive Capture, FLRPLN, and TruBuilt Existing Condition As Builts.

Our services cover:

  • Subsurface Damage Prevention: Concrete scanning, utility locating, pipe inspection, and leak detection
  • Existing Conditions Documentation: Reality capture, as-built drawings, utility maps, and BIM models
  • Construction and Facility Project Management: GIS software, virtual tours, floorplans, and progress documentation

Accurate utility as-builts are crucial across construction, urban planning, and infrastructure management. They enhance safety, efficiency, and cost management, ensuring projects stay on track and comply with regulations. GPRS helps navigate these complexities with precise mapping and documentation services. With a 99.8% accuracy rate, partnering with GPRS means you’re set for success from the start. Contact us today to learn how we can help you map the future.

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How to Get Your Plan View of Your Facility or Project

A plan view is an invaluable asset to have in various stages of construction, maintenance, and operation.

A plan view is an invaluable asset to have in various stages of construction, maintenance, and operation.

Also known as a top view, floor plan, or bird’s-eye view, it represents a facility or project as if viewed from above, offering a comprehensive layout of its spatial arrangements. This perspective is invaluable in various stages of construction, maintenance, and operation.

To obtain an accurate plan view of a facility or project, it’s vital to incorporate key methodologies and technologies such as 3D laser scanning, 3D photogrammetry, and utility locating.

Floor plans of a multi-floor building.
A plan view is an invaluable asset to have in various stages of construction, maintenance, and operation.

Understanding the Importance of Plan Views

Plan views are integral to infrastructure mapping because they provide a clear, detailed representation of a site’s layout. This visual aid is essential for:

  • Design and Planning: Helping architects and engineers visualize spatial relationships and align new construction with existing structures
  • As-Built Documentation: Ensuring accurate records of the completed project for future reference and maintenance
  • Existing Conditions Documentation: Capturing the current state of a facility for renovations or expansions
  • Utility Locating: Identifying underground utilities to prevent damage during excavation and construction

How to Obtain a Plan View

Initial Site Assessment

The first step in obtaining a plan view is a thorough site assessment. This involves:

  • Site Visits: Conducting physical inspections to understand the site's layout, topography, and key features
  • Document Review: Examining existing documentation, such as blueprints and previous surveys, to gather preliminary information

Choosing the Right Technology

Different technologies are available to create detailed and accurate plan views. Selecting the right one depends on the project’s complexity, size, and specific requirements.

3D Laser Scanning

3D laser scanning is a highly accurate method for capturing the geometry of a site. It uses laser beams to measure distances between the scanner and the surfaces of objects, generating a precise 3D model.

Advantages: Provides high-resolution data, captures intricate details, and is efficient for large or complex facilities.

Process: Set up the scanner at multiple locations around the site to cover all angles. The scanner emits laser pulses, which bounce back from surfaces to create a dense point cloud representing the site’s geometry.

Drone Photogrammetry

Drones equipped with cameras can capture aerial images of a site, which are then processed to create a detailed map.

Advantages: Ideal for large outdoor sites, provides a comprehensive overview quickly, and can cover inaccessible areas.

Process: Plan the drone’s flight path to ensure complete coverage. After the flight, use photogrammetry software to stitch the images together and generate a 3D model or orthomosaic map.

Data Collection

Using the chosen technology, collect the necessary data:

  • For 3D Laser Scanning: Position the scanner at various points around the site. Ensure that overlapping scans are taken to cover all areas and eliminate blind spots. The result is a point cloud data set
  • For Drone Photogrammetry: Conduct the drone flight as per the planned path, ensuring that the camera captures overlapping images. Post-processing these images will yield a detailed 3D model

Data Processing and Analysis

Once data collection is complete, the next step is processing and analyzing the data to create a plan view.

  • Point Cloud Processing: For 3D laser scanning, use software to convert the point cloud into a usable format, such as a 2D floor plan or a 3D model. Tools like AutoCAD or Revit can be employed to extract specific views and dimensions
  • Image Stitching: For 3D and drone photogrammetry, employ photogrammetry software to combine images into a coherent map. This involves registration: the process of aligning and merging the images based on their GPS coordinates and visual overlap

Creating the Plan View

With the processed data, you can now create the plan view:

  • 2D Drawings: Convert the 3D data into 2D plan views using CAD software. This involves drawing lines and shapes to represent walls, windows, doors, and other features from the top-down perspective
  • Overlaying Utility Data: If utility locating is part of the project, integrate the data from ground-penetrating radar (GPR) or electromagnetic (EM) locating tools. This will highlight the position of underground utilities like pipes and cables

Verification and Validation

Before finalizing the plan view, it’s crucial to verify and validate the accuracy of the data:

- **Field Verification**: Conduct on-site checks to ensure that the plan view matches the actual conditions. This may involve measuring distances and comparing them with the data.

- **Client Review**: Share the plan view with stakeholders or clients for feedback and approval. Incorporate any necessary adjustments to meet their requirements.

Final Documentation

Once the plan view is verified and validated, compile the final documentation:

  • As-Built Documentation: Prepare detailed drawings and records that accurately represent the completed facility. This documentation is essential for future maintenance, renovations, and compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Existing Conditions Documentation: For projects focusing on renovations or expansions, ensure that the plan view accurately reflects the current state of the facility

Applications of Plan Views

Plan views have wide-ranging applications across various industries, including:

  • Construction: Facilitating the design and coordination of new buildings and infrastructure
  • Utilities and Infrastructure: Mapping underground utilities and ensuring safe excavation practices
  • Facility Management: Assisting in the maintenance and operational planning of large facilities
  • Historic Preservation: Documenting heritage sites and ensuring their accurate restoration
  • Emergency Response Planning: Plan views are invaluable in emergency response planning as they provide detailed, overhead representations of buildings and areas, enabling responders to quickly understand layouts, identify critical access points, and strategize efficient evacuation and intervention routes
  • Real Estate Leasing and Sales: Plan views play a crucial role in real estate leasing and sales by offering clear, bird’s-eye illustrations of property layouts, which help potential tenants and buyers visualize space utilization, assess room dimensions, and make informed decisions about the functionality and suitability of the property for their needs
A GPRS FLRPLN floor plan.
FLRPLN provides fast 2D CAD plan views of buildings, facilities, and sites, documenting existing conditions to expedite planning and improve communication with clients and contractors.

GPRS FLRPLN: Accurate Existing Condition Documentation

Through our FLRPLN service, GPRS converts photogrammetry into 2D floorplan views, delivered digitally and shareable via SiteMap® (patent pending) so that they can be downloaded, saved, and shared to any laptop, tablet, or smartphone and are accessible 24/7.

FLRPLN provides fast 2D CAD plan views of buildings, facilities, and sites, documenting existing conditions to expedite planning and improve communication with clients and contractors. Reference valuable property information, such as layout, dimensions, and details of rooms, walls, doors, windows, architectural, structural, and MEP features to communicate design intent, coordinate construction activities, mitigate risk, develop emergency plans and safety procedures, and more.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click below to schedule a service or request a quote today!

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How Different Soil Types Impact Excavation Projects

From the ease of digging in sandy soil to the challenges posed by dense clay, each soil type requires specific strategies and equipment to ensure a successful excavation.

Understanding soil conditions is crucial for any excavation project.

The type of soil you encounter can significantly influence your project's timeline, cost, and safety. From the ease of digging in sandy soil to the challenges posed by dense clay, each soil type requires specific strategies and equipment to ensure a successful excavation. This article explores how different soil types impact excavation projects and offers insights on how to manage them effectively.

Sandy soil.
Understanding soil conditions is crucial for any excavation project.

The Big Three: Sand, Silt, and Clay

Soil is typically composed of a mix of sand, silt, and clay. Each of these soil types has unique characteristics that affect how they respond to excavation efforts.

Sand: The Easy Digger

Sand is composed of large, loose particles that create a soil type known for its excellent drainage and ease of excavation. This makes sand an ideal material for projects requiring quick and straightforward digging. Its properties allow for efficient drainage, which is beneficial for structures like basements and footings where water needs to move away from the foundation.

Advantages:

- Fast Drainage: Sand allows water to pass through quickly, reducing the risk of waterlogging and making it suitable for areas that need to stay dry.

- Ease of Digging: The loose particles of sand make it easy to excavate, often requiring less power and effort compared to other soil types.

- Reduced Equipment Wear: Since sand is less compact, it causes less wear and tear on excavation equipment.

Challenges:

- Stability Concerns: While easy to dig, sandy soil can be unstable, especially when dry. This can lead to cave-ins if proper shoring and support are not used.

- Erosion Risk: Sand can shift and erode easily under certain conditions, which might require additional stabilization measures.

Best Uses:

- Projects requiring quick excavation.

- Areas needing good drainage, such as basements and foundations.

- Applications where minimal erosion is a concern.

Silt: The Balancer

Silt is finer than sand but coarser than clay, and it can retain some moisture while providing moderate drainage. This soil type is often used in trench work and projects where a balance between stability and drainage is needed. Silt can hold water but also allows for gradual drainage, making it a versatile choice for many excavation projects.

Advantages:

- Moderate Stability: Silt is more stable than sand, providing a solid base for projects that require a reliable foundation.

- Good for Trenching: Its ability to retain moisture while draining gradually makes it suitable for laying pipes or electrical conduit.

- Adaptable for Various Projects: Silt’s properties allow it to be used in a variety of applications, from residential construction to utility work.

Challenges:

- Moisture Retention: Silt can become compacted and hold moisture, which may require special handling to avoid issues during excavation.

- Erosion Potential: While not as prone to erosion as sand, silt can still shift under certain conditions, requiring careful planning and management.

Best Uses:

- Projects that need moderate drainage and stability, such as trenches.

- Laying utility lines where a balance between stability and drainage is necessary.

- Areas where soil needs to be relatively stable yet adaptable.

Clay: The Tough Challenger

Clay consists of very fine particles that stick together, creating a dense and heavy soil type. Excavating clay is often challenging due to its stickiness and resistance. However, clay’s properties can be advantageous in projects that require a watertight seal, such as landfills or containment areas for hazardous materials.

Advantages:

- High Plasticity: Clay can be molded and shaped, making it useful for creating barriers and seals.

- Low Permeability: Its dense structure prevents water from passing through, ideal for projects requiring water containment.

- Durability: Clay provides a solid foundation for structures needing high stability and longevity.

Challenges:

- Difficult Excavation: The dense, sticky nature of clay makes it harder to dig through, often requiring more powerful equipment and longer project timelines.

- Expansion and Contraction: Clay can expand when wet and contract when dry, potentially leading to structural issues if not managed properly.

- Heavy Equipment Wear: The density of clay can cause significant wear on excavation tools and machinery.

Best Uses:

- Projects requiring a watertight seal, such as landfills or hazardous waste containment.

- Foundations where high stability is essential.

- Areas where soil movement needs to be minimized.

Managing Mixed Soils

Most excavation sites will encounter a mix of these soil types rather than pure sand, silt, or clay. Understanding the dominant soil type and its properties is key to planning and executing a successful excavation project. Here are some strategies to manage mixed soils effectively:

Soil Testing

Before starting any excavation, conducting thorough soil testing is crucial. This helps identify the soil composition and determine the best approach for excavation. Testing can reveal the proportions of sand, silt, and clay, guiding decisions on equipment and techniques.

Equipment Selection

Choosing the right equipment is essential for handling different soil types. For example, sandy soil might only need a standard excavator, while clay could require more powerful machinery and additional attachments to break through its dense structure.

Project Timeline and Budget

Understanding soil conditions can help estimate realistic project timelines and budgets. Excavating through clay, for instance, will likely take longer and cost more than digging through sand. Accurate estimates can prevent unexpected delays and cost overruns.

Safety Measures

Different soil types require specific safety measures to prevent accidents and ensure worker safety. Sandy or loose soil may need additional support to prevent cave-ins, while compacted clay could necessitate reinforced excavation walls.

Communication and Coordination

Effective communication among stakeholders is vital, especially in complex projects involving multiple soil types. Tools like GIS mapping programs can help project planners, utility owners, and field crews coordinate their efforts and share information about soil conditions and excavation progress.

GPRS Project Managers conducting utility locating and mapping services.
GPRS offers non-destructive private utility locating services that work in any kind of soil.

GPRS Services Can Adapt to Any Job Site

Regardless of what type of soil you’re working with, striking the infrastructure buried within that soil while excavating could derail your project and endanger your workers.

GPRS offers non-destructive private utility locating services that work in any kind of soil. Utilizing complimentary technologies such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic (EM) locating, our SIM-certified Project Managers provide comprehensive infrastructure mapping to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize?

Frequently Asked Questions  

Can GPRS locate PVC piping and other non-conductive utilities?

GPR scanning is exceptionally effective at locating all types of subsurface materials. There are times when PVC pipes do not provide an adequate signal to GPR equipment and can’t be properly located by traditional methods. GPRS Project Managers, however, are expertly trained at multiple methods of utility locating.

Is GPRS able to distinguish between each type of underground utility which is located?

In most situations, we can identify the utility in question without any problems, although it is not always possible to determine what type of utility is present. When this happens, we attempt to trace the utility to a valve, meter, control box, or other signifying markers to determine the type of utility buried.

Will I need to mark out the utilities GPRS locates?

No, GPRS will locate and mark all utilities for you. We have a variety of tools and markers we can use to highlight the locations of utilities, underground storage tanks (USTs), and whatever else may be hiding.

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GPRS Deploys ‘Super Sonde’ for Video Pipe Inspection

GPRS paired specialized equipment with our industry-leading sewer pipe inspection process to locate an old sewer line hidden 40’ below a 124-year-old college campus.

GPRS paired specialized equipment with our industry-leading sewer pipe inspection process to locate an old sewer line hidden 40 feet below a 124-year-old college campus.

GPRS Project Manager Nate Johnson was tasked with locating the pipe buried beneath Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University, where Costa Contracting was doing foundation work for a new building.

Green spray paint on the ground of a job site.
While existing as-built documentation for Carnegie Mellon University indicated a sewer line was running through the planned site for a new building, the contractor had been unable to accurately locate the line by themselves.

While existing as-built documentation for the university indicated a sewer line was running through the planned excavation site, the contractor had been unable to accurately locate the line by themselves.

This isn’t unusual; the average sewer line in the United States is 45 years old. Even today, many facilities don’t have accurate maps of their buried infrastructure.

This is a problem, especially considering that the average sewer line in the U.S. is also at 81% capacity and 70,000 sanitary sewer overflows occur annually. You can’t maintain what you can’t find.

To find the buried sewer line at Carnegie Mellon, Johnson inserted a remote-controlled sewer inspection rover into a nearby access point and piloted the device through the line running under the job site. All of GPRS’ rovers and push-fed sewer scopes are equipped with CCTV cameras and sondes: instrument probes that are detectable from the surface using electromagnetic (EM) locators. This allows us to map your sewer system at the same time we’re investigating it for defects such as cross bores and inflow/infiltration (I/I).

The problem was that our rovers’ internal sondes can only locate sewer pipes up to 15 feet into the Earth. Because of the hilly terrain found across much of western Pennsylvania, pipes are often buried much deeper than 15 feet.

A Prototek DuraSonde Transmitter on a table.
To find the sewer line, GPRS Project Manager Nate Johnson deployed this Prototek Durasonde Transmitter, which is locatable in nonmetallic pipes over 50’ in depth.

To overcome this challenge, Johnson equipped his rover with a Prototek DuraSonde Transmitter. Colloquially referred to as a ‘super sonde,’ this 10 ¼ inch-long, 8 KHz frequency transmitter is locatable in nonmetallic pipes over 50 feet in depth.

“So, it gets attached to the crawler and is able to be located with our EM locators...,” Johnson said. "We do [jobs with this device] from time to time. With how hilly it is in western Pennsylvania, some of the lines are quite deep.”

With the super sonde along for the ride, Johnson used the rover to conduct GPRS’ comprehensive Video Pipe Inspection services. Through this process, we provide our clients with NASSCO-certified, WinCan reports detailing all issues found within the pipes we locate and map. These reports include photo and video evidence of the defects, which are geolocated and ranked by severity, so you know where you need to dig to make repairs and can prioritize maintenance.

Even the best infrastructure data is useless if you can’t share it when and where it’s needed. That’s why GPRS created SiteMap® (patent pending), a cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution that provides accurate existing condition documentation to protect your assets and people.

Able to integrate with your existing GIS mapping system and securely accessible 24/7 from any computer, tablet or smartphone, SiteMap® eliminates communication silos and the mistakes, reworks, and change orders they cause. With the field-verified data collected by GPRS’ nationwide team of Project Managers at your fingertips exactly when and where you need it, you can plan, design, manage, dig, and build better.

Johnson determined that the sewer line at Carnegie was a vitrified clay pipe. It’s a type of pipe he is intimately familiar with, having mapped most of the wastewater infrastructure in the City of Pittsburgh, which primarily consists of vitrified clay pipe.

Like clay pottery, vitrified clay pipe is hard to crush, but will snap when not properly supported or when placed under extreme pressure from an external source such as a tree root – or the foundation of a building built on top of it. Because Costa Contracting contacted GPRS to locate the pipe prior to laying the foundation for the building they were constructing, they ensured the safety and success of their project.

From sewer lines to skyscrapers, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click below to schedule a service or request a quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What size pipes can GPRS inspect?

Our professional Video Pipe Inspection Project Managers have the capabilities to inspect pipes from 2 inches in diameter and up.

What deliverables does GPRS offer when conducting a Video Pipe Inspection?

GPRS is proud to offer WinCan reporting to our Video Pipe Inspection clients. Maintaining sewers starts with understanding sewer condition, and WinCan allows GPRS Project Managers to collect detailed, NASSCO-compliant inspection data. GPRS Project Managers not only inspect the interior condition of sewer pipes, laterals, and manholes – they can also provide a map of their location. The GPRS Mapping & Modeling Department can provide detailed GPS overlays and CAD files. Our detailed WinCan/NASSCO reports contain screenshots of the interior condition of the pipe segments that we inspect, as well as a video file for further evaluation, documentation, and/or reference.

All this field-verified data is securely accessible 24/7 from SiteMap® (patent pending), GPRS’ cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution.

Can GPRS locate pipes in addition to evaluating their integrity?

Yes! Our SIM and NASSCO-certified Project Managers use video pipe inspection technology equipped with sondes, which are instrument probes that allow them to ascertain the location of underground utilities from an inaccessible location. This allows them to use electromagnetic (EM) locating to map sewer systems at the same time they’re evaluating them for defects.

Does GPRS offer lateral launch services?

Yes, we offer lateral launch capabilities as part of our standard Video Pipe Inspection services.

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Where Do We Stand With The CGA’s 50 in 5 Initiative?

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) made waves in February of 2023 when it unveiled its “50 in 5” initiative: a challenge to the damage prevention industry to reduce damages to critical underground utilities by 50% by 2028. While it’s still too early to truly gauge whether the initiative will be a success, the CGA is pleased with the response it has seen so far.

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) made waves when it unveiled its “50 in 5” initiative in February 2023.

The national nonprofit dedicated to mitigating damage to buried utilities challenged the damage prevention industry to cut damages to critical underground utilities in half by 2028.

So far, the CGA is pleased with the results.

A woman smiling for the camera.
Sarah Magruder Lyle, President & CEO of Common Ground Alliance

“Once we announced 50 in 5, it basically took on a life of its own,” CGA President & CEO, Sarah Magruder Lyle, told the industry newsletter, The Built World*. “We have seen so many other associations and groups really grab that and say, ‘What can we do to do this?’ It’s gone from a, ‘Well, can we do it?’ to, ‘Yes we can, if we work together.’”

Although achieving a 50% damage reduction in 5 years is ambitious, the CGA had a significant advantage when presenting this challenge to its stakeholders: it had already been accomplished in the City of Chicago, one of the nation's largest and most utility-dense cities.

A construction worker in a hole in a city street.
With more utilities being installed underground than ever before, mitigating damage to existing buried infrastructure during excavation has taken on a new level of importance.

Chicago is one of only two cities – along with New York City – to have its own 811 One-Call System.

811 is the nationwide call-before-you-dig service. Since 2005, federal law mandates that contractors and excavators call 811 before starting any digging to determine the approximate location of public utilities in the area.

What distinguishes 811 Chicago from other 811 services is its project design review process, which lays the groundwork for safe excavation involving utility projects. As detailed in a CGA case study, this approach has led to a 50% decrease in annual damages in the city since 2017.

“811 Chicago’s damage prevention model is unique, and features aspects that other stakeholders may not be able to adopt within the current system in their state or region – namely enforcement authority and oversight of the OUC [Chicago’s Division of Infrastructure Management’s Office of Underground Coordination],” the CGA wrote in its case study. “But there are many aspects of 811 Chicago’s process that any stakeholder, regardless of local regulation, can incorporate into their damage prevention process.”

Any potential utility locating project in Chicago starts with a project design review, which the CGA says emphasizes collaboration and communication among project owners, engineers, and facility operators. As part of the review, project owners submit the location of the project, and the OUC sends them a utility atlas page that identifies the locations of most of the buried utilities in the vicinity of the project location.

The project owner must integrate the data from the utility atlas into an updated project plan that avoids existing utilities. This revised plan is then submitted back to OUC, which forwards it to its member utility owners for review. They examine the plan to ensure that the proposed utility will not interfere with their facilities.

The project gains approval only when all members concur on the revised plans. If any member requests modifications, the project planners must incorporate these changes before proceeding to the permitting phase.

“Projects approved by the OUC ensure a new facility’s potential impact on existing infrastructure is mitigated before the ground is broken,” the CGA wrote. “The OUC returns value to both utility owners and excavators by saving them costs associated with utility damages.”

Lyle shared with The Built World that the CGA was particularly impressed by the transparent communication among stakeholders regarding subsurface utility mapping when they reviewed the data from 811 Chicago.

The CGA’s case study highlights dotMaps as a key factor in Chicago 811's success. This custom-built GIS mapping tool displays the locations of OUC projects, permits, and dig tickets. Stakeholders utilize dotMaps to research both completed and upcoming infrastructure projects. Project and utility owners coordinate their efforts using the data, field crews access it for on-site information, and the public can view ongoing utility projects in their neighborhoods.

“Five years ago, it was ‘We can’t do that,’” Lyle said. “Now we have a lot of places that have shown us we can, and so that, to me, stuck out. Yes, we can provide access to mapping, and we can provide access to this information, and it actually does make the system better. They’ve shown that mapping tools work.”

SiteMap®: Accurate Infrastructure Mapping at Your Fingertips

Chicago has the resources to have an infrastructure mapping software solution purpose-built to suit its needs. That’s obviously not a reality for even most mid-size municipalities across the country.

So, GPRS did it for you.

SiteMap® (patent pending), powered by GPRS, is a GIS-based project & facility management application that provides accurate existing condition documentation to protect your assets and people.

What sets SiteMap® apart from other GIS-based infrastructure mapping solutions is that its built on the field-verified data collected on your site by GPRS’ SIM-certified Project Managers. That’s 99.8%+ utility locating, 2-4mm accurate 3D laser scanning, NASSCO-certified video pipe inspection, and pinpoint accurate leak detection data, at your fingertips 24/7 from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

With SiteMap®, you and your team can eliminate communication silos and plan, design, manage, dig, and build better.

GPRS SiteMap® team members are currently scheduling live, personal SiteMap® demonstrations. Click below to schedule your free demo today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Benefits of Underground Utility Mapping?

Having an updated and accurate map of your subsurface infrastructure reduces accidents, budget overruns, change orders, and project downtime caused by dangerous and costly subsurface damage.

How does SiteMap® assist with Utility Mapping?

SiteMap®, powered by GPRS, is the industry-leading infrastructure management program. It is a single source of truth, housing the 99.8%+ accurate utility locating, concrete scanning, video pipe inspection, leak detection, and 3D laser scanning data our Project Managers collect on your job site. And the best part is you get a complimentary SiteMap® Personal Subscription when GPRS performs a utility locate for you.

Click here to learn more.

Does SiteMap® Work with my Existing GIS Platform?

SiteMap® allows for exporting of data to SHP, GeoJSON, GeoPackage, and DXF directly from any user’s account that either owns or has a job shared to their account. All these file formats can be imported and utilized by other GIS packages if manually imported by the user. More information can be found at SiteMap.com.

*DISCLAIMER: The Built World is published by GPRS.

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training manuals

Utility Locating: Electromagnetic Locating
View Manual
Ground Penetrating Radar: Rebar Slabs
View Manual
Ground Penetrating Radar: Dielectrics
View Manual
Concrete Scanning – Slab-On-Grade
View Manual
Ribbed Slab Construction: Slab Type – Ribbed and Waffle
View Manual
Understanding Decking from a Concrete Scanning Perspective
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Understanding Decking from a Concrete Scanning Perspective - Hollow Core
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