Laser scanning and automated feature extraction streamlines plant upgrades through faster BIM.
The 60 million travelers who pass through the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) every year likely never think about the technology that ensures hot and cold water flows uninterrupted to lavatories, kitchens and air conditioners throughout the facility. They would, however, notice if the water stopped running. And for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles that manages and operates LAX, that simply isn’t an option.
Ten rooms equipped with massive pumps keep water moving through miles of pipes serving the nine passenger terminals, administrative offices and central theme building. With many pumps and pipes approaching the ends of their useful lives in 2011, LAWA made plans to overhaul the outdated central utility plant and upgrade the pump rooms. As is true for any continuously operating facility, the challenge was performing the retrofit without disrupting service.
“You can’t just take out the old pipes and put new ones in their place,” says Scott Cedarleaf, co-founder of Cedar+Mac, a scanning, modeling and visualization firm based in based in Scottsdale. “The new pipes had to be installed before the existing ones were removed.”
This meant the pipe runs had to be precisely modeled in 3D to fit in the void space among the maze of existing mechanical, electric and plumbing (MEP) features in each room. The location, diameter, bend and sag of each new pipe had to be exact to pass cleanly through the allotted space. A misalignment or encroachment would have brought the construction to an expensive halt for redesign and procurement of new parts.
For a major plant retrofit like this, the design work is typically performed on workstations in the CAD environment and requires an extremely accurate 3D as-built model of the existing MEP infrastructure. Visualization firms like Cedar+Mac generate these models by performing high-definition surveys with terrestrial laser scanners. A highly accurate scan of an interior room can be captured in minutes with the laser.
In the May 2020 issue of POB, find out how mobile spatial imaging technology helped an international construction company to redefine the business of road and railway projects, discover new applications for mobile mapping and steadily drive them toward new opportunities.