The Importance of As-Built 3D Models and Reality Capture for AEC

In the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry, reality capture and as-built 3D models are game changers. It’s great to work from blueprints, renderings, and 3D models to create new structures. But what about when we are working with existing structures? Can we be certain that the completed project exactly matches the original plan?

This is where as-built 3D models come in. Using a process called reality capture, it is now easier than ever to create accurate, and highly detailed, 3D models of structures. Once created, these models can be used to drive renovations, retrofits, re-engineering projects, and more.

To help us better understand the benefits of 3D reality capture, let’s look more closely at the process of creating an as-built 3D model, and some potential applications.

What is 3D reality capture?

Reality capture involves using data capturing technology tools to scan a structure, and then utilizing that captured data to create a virtual version of the structure. As explains it:

Laser scanners collect surface data about an object or structure by beaming a laser repeatedly off its surface and plotting points (equivalent to each beam that is fired) into what’s known as a point cloud. Once this surface topology data is collected, it is formatted in the native file type of the laser scanner being used.

Essentially, 3D Reality Capture tools document a physical object’s size and shape in the computer world as a 3D digital representation. That 3D model is called an “As-built 3D model” because it has recreated the structure precisely as it was built (as opposed to how it was designed or conceived).

An example of as-built 3D model

How is reality capture changing the design and construction industry?

Prior to the invention of reality capture technology, a renovation or infrastructure project would require extensive labor hours simply to generate a reliable and accurate set of plans. That work may start with transferring original blueprints to CAD drawings and then move into site visits to hand-measure key components to verify that the project was built as spec’d.

Once every detail was manually recorded, those data points would need to be hand-entered into the CAD software, just so a 2D plan of the construction project would be built. From those plans, if the budget allowed, a 3D modeler could render a 3D model that was only as accurate as the measurements gathered on-site.

As you might expect, this process was very costly and time-consuming. And all of this would need to be done before any shop drawings could really begin.

But with reality capture, as-built 3D models can be created in a single site visit. They are accurate right out of the gate. And with the right software, the model can be available in minutes instead of weeks.

As-built 3D models are changing AEC because they are:

  • Fast: Reality capture can deliver results immediately after the scan is complete and the data is processed.
  • Accurate: With LiDAR technology, the measurements from a reality capture scan can be accurate to the millimeter. This means that your as-built model will be more accurate than a human could create by hand.
  • Safe: because the laser is doing the measuring, hard-to-reach areas and hazardous locations can be captured quickly, minimizing risk exposure.

Unlike blueprints and even early 3D models, contemporary 3D models (as well as the point cloud data that helped create them) can be easily shared. Software like the JP Digital Interactive Viewer makes it easy to share your reality-captured 3D model with all members of your team in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. It’s almost like being able to pass around the entire structure.

As we explain elsewhere on our blog, “With geographically dispersed teams, centralizing all this data is crucial. Whether it’s original CAD designs, as-designed BIM models, build changes, maintenance records, or operational KPIs, teams can no longer afford to have information strewn about on various hard drives and paper files. Instead, collaboration should be seamless – someone needs to bring point clouds, BIM models, designs, and pertinent information into one, centralized source.”

Within the interactive software, each member of your AEC team can utilize the data and model in the ways that they need. From your engineers examining structural integrity to electricians planning the route for conduit, everyone has a model that’s scalable from macro to micro levels.

To learn more about how JP Global Digital can help you to create, manage, share, and utilize 3D Models and Reality Capture in the AEC industry, try a free demo today!

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Ivan Marten

Senior Partner Emeritus at Boston Consulting Group

Ivan Marten is a senior partner emeritus at Boston Consulting Group. He is also a member of JP Global Digital Advisory Board as from April 2019. He has supported various companies in the energy, Oil & Gas, power, and environment sectors on developing their strategic visions for over 30 years. Ivan holds a degree in economics and business administration, and a Ph.D. in business administration and economics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He was named one of the" Top 25 most influential consultants of the year by Consulting Magazine in 2003.

Javier San Juan

President of the Latin America Region at L’Oreal

Javier is the president of the Latin America region at L’Oreal. He is a member of JP Global Digital Advisory Board as from January 2019. He has over 27 years of experience with a world leading cosmetic company where he held various positions across Europe and the Americas. Javier holds a master’s degree in Law, a master’s degree in Economics from the University ICADE in Spain, and a Diplôme HEC from the Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris He is the co-founder of Gibraltar Corporation and is one of the advisory board members.

Elizabeth Coronado

Co-Founder and Head of Marketing

Elizabeth graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication. She has three years of experience supporting the management of internal and external communications. She holds a Digital Marketing Certificate from the University of Miami.

She works hand-in-hand with multiple departments including Quality Management System, Human Resources, and Marketing. She is currently involved in the process of raising funds.

Argenis Pelayo

Product Manager

Argenis has a bachelor's degree in Geophysical Engineering and an MBA. 

Argenis is experienced in the implementation of agile methodology, and project planning. He is knowledgeable in C++, MATLAB, and Python programming languages. He has almost two years of experience in his field.

King Yung

Data Processing Specialist

King is a mechanical maintenance engineer with an MBA. He has almost 15 years of experience in the oil & gas industry. In the last five years, he has specialized and certified in laser scanning. He is focused on industrial data processing in Panama, the Republic of Panama.

Eduardo Colmenares

Technical Sales

Eduardo is a mechanical engineer with an MBA. He has more than 10 years of experience in the construction and oil & gas industry. In the last five years, he has specialized and is certified in laser scanning. Eduardo has focused on leading industrial asset digitalization in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Valentin Malave

Project Leader

Valentin is a civil engineer with almost 20 years of experience as a project engineer. In the last two years, he has focused on leading industrial asset digitalization in Houston, TX. He has specialized and is certified in laser scanning.

Ana Gutierrez

Project Leader

Ana has 10 years of experience in the design and engineering area of telecommunications and networks, and digitalization. In the last four years, she has specialized and certified in laser scanning.

Customer and results-oriented. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical, electronics, and communications engineering, a Master in Management, and a MBA.

Roberto Ocando Morales

Research & Development Leader

Roberto holds an associate degree in information technology and a law degree. He has an MBA and a specialization in strategic senior management.

He has been a scrum master focused on software and applications development. He has 24 years of experience in his field.

He was second place within the 100 Best Technology Projects Executed in Venezuela in 2006- according to IT Manager 100 Empresas High-Tech 2006

Marvelys Gonzalez

Head of Operations

Marvelys is a civil engineer with a master in project management and specialized in project design and hydraulic engineering. She also holds an MBA and a master in Big Data & Business Intelligence.

She has more than 17 years of experience in her field, and for the last three years, she has focused on industrial data processing. She is located in Mexico City (DF).

Hernan Ocando

IT Team Leader

Hernan has more than 20 years of experience in computer science, cryptography, IT, data center design, telecommunications, and digitalization.

He also has experience as an information security management system auditor, and data processing platform manager in both private and public corporations.

Hernan holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and a master in Computer Science, Finance, and Strategic Management.

Freddy Martinez

Partner and President

Freddy is a successful senior executive with more than 35 years of experience supporting global companies in their growth.

Freddy is a strong business development professional with an MBA from The Wharton School and an MSE focused on materials science & engineering from The Moore School, University of Pennsylvania. Both degrees were simultaneously earned from 1984 to 1986.

Daniel Coronado

COO & Co-Founder

Daniel is the chief operating officer and co-founder of JP Global Digital. He is responsible for leading the entire overall global operations of JP Global Digital and the implementation of organic growth.

Daniel has a law degree. He has over 25 years of experience founding and developing a series of corporations in the agricultural, mining, construction, and technology sector since 2015.

Ysaac Coronado

CEO and Co-Founder

Ysaac is the CEO and co-founder of JP Global Digital. He is responsible for the overall business performance of JP Global Digital and is highly committed to the development of high-quality 3D digital solutions and to obtain the highest level of client satisfaction and growth for the Oil & Gas, Large Industrial, and Maritime Sectors.

Ysaac has a law degree with a specialization in corporate law. Ysaac has over 25 years of experience founding and developing a series of corporations in the agricultural, mining, construction, and technology sector since 2015.