A Better Scan to Plan Workflow

Author / Sean Higgins

In the past, the best way to generate floor plans involved taking to the field with handheld distometers (or even cruder devices like tape measures), gathering measurements, and then recording a final deliverable manually. Though this process is effective for smaller facilities, it doesn’t scale to enable efficient, accurate capture of larger facilities.

The rise of reality capture promised to solve that problem. The idea is simple: Use a laser scanner to capture the facility in 3D, bring that data into modeling software, and generate a floor plan for any asset.

In reality, 3D scan-to-plan technologies have proven to be far more complex and expensive to implement. Here’s what’s wrong with these workflows—and a look at the ways that new technologies can address these pain points to exploit the full potential of the scan-to-plan workflow.

The problems with current workflows

The challenges begin with the 3D data capture itself:


Slow and Laborious Tools

A single terrestrial scan takes anywhere from 2-10 mins, with several steps required in each room to thoroughly capture existing conditions.


Highly Technical Processing Steps

Registration, the processing step that connects scans into a single master scan, is a complex, technical task that takes many years to master.


Expensive Alternatives

Outsourcing 3D capture to a service provider is expensive.

On top of that, the data capture is only the first step. Once users have captured 3D data and processed it, they still need to model it to generate the final floor plan. This brings a whole new set of pain points:


Complex Modeling Process

Manual modeling is slow and complicated, and requires significant amounts of office hours to achieve a final deliverable—meaning there is a high chance of human error.


Software Exhaustion

Most companies already work in a wide variety of tools, and are put off by the cost and effort of learning another new software for a single application.


Expensive Alternatives

Working with a third-party modeling firm exceeds the budgets of many projects.

Mobile Scanning and Automatic Modeling

The good news is that recent developments in smart processing technologies have addressed many of these challenges directly.

Intelligent mobile mapping systems use algorithms originally developed in robotics to enable faster capture and greater ease of use. These 3D scanners are often combined with a new generation of floor-plan generation software that exploits computer-vision algorithms to generate floor plans with a minimum of human input.

Together, they empower users to capture floor plans efficiently, accurately, and entirely in-house. The workflow offers a number of benefits:


Efficient Capture of Large Facilities

A mobile scanner captures field conditions as you walk, which means better coverage and less time in the field.


Simple Data Processing

Some mobile scanners offer highly automated registration workflows that any AEC professional can perform. The Heron, for instance, uses a simple three-step process.


Automated Modeling

Smart floor plan software automatically finds and models most walls and levels in your as-built 3D data from terrestrial or mobile scanners. This means a minimum of manual steps and no need to learn new software.


High Global Accuracy

Mobile scanners can introduce errors over time that cause your final data to “drift” and reduce global accuracy. Some mobile 3D scanners, like the Heron, will offer options for using survey points or previous 3D captures as control, and use this information to offer reliable accuracy.

This workflow empowers users to generate comprehensive floor plans for extremely large facilities, without sacrificing on the accuracy of the final deliverable.

For more information about our scan to plan workflow, which combines the Heron mobile scanner and our EdgeWise Building automatic modeling tool

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.