Using the latest LIDAR Technology to Advance Efficiency, Safety and Product Delivery

KCI crews use the Riegl VZ-1000, which emits 250,000 pulses per second over a range of 1,500 meters.

The survey market is constantly evolving, supported by new field instruments, high-resolution imagery and advancing CADD programs. KCI is using the latest technology, terrestrial light detection and ranging (LIDAR), to advance the Survey Practice’s efficiency, safety and product delivery.

KCI used LIDAR to acquire survey data in the steam tunnels connecting various buildings underneath the Capitol grounds.

Field crews use a scanner, which emits and then measures a beam of light that is reflected off objects. The device uses time, color and speed to calculate distances and intensities across an area. The key to capitalizing on the new technology is having a technician that can process the data effectively, and KCI has that in Trevor R. Tyson, who has been working with LIDAR in either its aerial, mobile or terrestrial forms for the last five years.

“Your average conventional field crew can pick up roughly 1,500 points,” he says. “With LIDAR you’re expanding that to millions each day.” Together they create a point cloud that looks almost like a photo. Tyson then filters and slices the data using specialized software to identify features to be drafted for a two-dimensional plan or modeled in 3-D.

Terrestrial scanning was selected for speed, safety and its ability to acquire data on the dense tree canopy and attachment points on existing structures like this substation, which remained energized during the survey.

KCI has worked with industry partners to utilize aerial and mobile equipment, but terrestrial applications can offer specific benefits for a variety of project types, from process piping to substations. LIDAR can map obscured, complicated or elevated objects outside of regularly traveled pathways, reducing risk and minimizing safety concerns for field crews, while reducing traffic disruptions. Measurements are highly accurate even in crowded or vertical facilities that would prohibit traditional crews from collecting dimensions and locations. Scanning can also eliminate the need for call-backs to survey additional information, as the point cloud contains data on all scanned objects, even those not originally targeted.

Standing in four feet of water, surveyors used a Leica robot instrument to scan the existing conditions of this historic arch bridge so the contractor could precisely place reinforcements within the arches to strengthen the structure.

Tyson also plans to use terrestrial scans for recurring inventories and maintenance, such as inspection of bridges, cell towers or transmission lines. “We can set permanent markers so that scans can be conducted from the same position year after year,” he said. “Then the data can be compared to previous point clouds to identify changes or deterioration like line sag, rust or cracking.” Projects that call for as-built surveys of historic buildings, wall deformation studies or forensic engineering can also benefit from the technology.

Just like GPS 10 years ago, this is the wave of the future in ground surveying. We have strategically positioned ourselves as a leader in both field collection and office manipulation of LIDAR data.

James M. Gellenthin, PLSVice President, Regional Practice Leader

James M. Gellenthin, PLS

With these expanded capabilities and expertise, KCI can help our clients determine the best surveying approach to meet the needs of their project and delivery requirements.

A scan and subsequent 3-D image offered engineers incredible detail and accuracy to develop a complex model and measure all existing pipes and electrical systems within a 30-foot-high boiler room.