Laser scanning is hot. In trade magazines and at user conferences, success stories abound. So why aren’t your clients buying into it?
According to Brian Elbe, PS, HDS team leader at Truescan3D based in West Chester, Ohio, the design and construction industry has increasingly begun requesting laser scanning and modeling services, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the dominant practice. In the meantime, however, service providers still need to take a close look at their business to make sure they’re taking the right approach.
Here are six strategies that can help you expand your scanning services.
1. Find the right project. “Scanning is not going to be the answer for every project, especially with scan to BIM,” Elbe says. For example, it might not be economically viable to obtain scans just to get room dimensions for an interior retrofit of an office building. However, a more complex project involving building additions or comprehensive energy modeling could certainly benefit from the high accuracy and substantial amount of data that can be collected with a laser scanner. Being able to identify where laser scanning can add value is paramount to building a successful scanning services business.
2. Talk to the right people. Although the increased market penetration of laser scanning is making it easier to sell, not everyone understands the benefits. Jason Ellis, BIM manager for Truescan 3D, notes that getting all of the stakeholders involved from the outset can facilitate the process. It’s equally important to understand each stakeholder’s point of view. “Some architects see [laser scanning] as potentially taking revenue away from them because part of their work in the past has involved going out and measuring the building,” Ellis says. “But the value is in the accuracy of the model and the level of detail that they’re getting compared to what they can generate on their own.”
The potential time savings is also significant. “When providing a Revit model of the building, we are essentially eliminating the need for the architect to hand measure and then later transcribe their field measurement notes back into the computer,” Elbe says. “They can design directly to our data, which is far more accurate, detailed and provided to them in a fraction of the time that traditional methods would take.”
Making an effort to learn about all of the team members and their previous exposure to laser scanning before the initial meeting can help you tailor your presentation to the participants for maximum impact.
3. Be a scanning evangelist. You don’t have to wait for an RFP to sell your scanning services. Instead, be proactive in creating opportunities to share your knowledge and expertise with the design community. For its part, Truescan3D holds “Lunch and Learn” sessions, actively participates in social media, gives presentations at conferences and universities, and writes articles for trade magazines. The firm is also an AIA certified continuing education service provider, which allows the team to educate architects on the benefits of laser scanning. “One of the figures we like to share is that change orders on a typical project cost somewhere in the realm of 10 percent of the overall project costs, where the scan itself can often cost less than 1 percent of the project and delivers a lot more value and detail for the design team,” Elbe says. “We believe scan to BIM can be hugely beneficial, and we try to share that with as many people as possible.”
4. Look for opportunities to cross sell. Firms that provide other services, such as engineering or traditional surveying, might find ways to add value to an existing project through laser scanning. As the 3D laser scanning focused service division of surveying and civil engineering firm Kleingers & Associates, Truescan3D typically generates its own work. But when a project led by Kleingers & Associates looks like a good fit for laser scanning or modeling, the firm doesn’t hesitate to try to pull Truescan3D onto the team.
One recent example was a school building renovation in Wyoming, Ohio, where the school district contracted Kleingers & Associates to provide the topographic survey, site engineering, landscape architecture and a traffic impact study. Kleingers saw an opportunity to further aid the efforts of the team through 3D laser scanning. “Including 3D laser scanning operations would help the architects by providing a complete record of the existing façade on the south side of the building where the new additions are scheduled,” Elbe says. “It would also reveal subtle nuances that would otherwise be very difficult to detect through conventional methods, such as varying building corner angles and irregularities in the vertical surfaces of the building.” Since additional funds were available in the existing contract, scan to BIM was an easy sell.
5. Go beyond the basics. In traditional surveying, a service provider might hand off the data and let the client decide what to do with it. Laser scanning requires a different approach. “We have to give the client something that immediately makes sense to them and easily integrates into their processes,” Elbe says. “It requires a good understanding of what our clients are thinking and what they’re looking for.”
6. Never stop learning. The constant evolution of technology and the diverse needs of the market require the ability to understand and adapt. “You have to be diligent,” Elbe says. “You have to be reading and experimenting every day just to keep up. There’s no room for complacency.”
Image: A 3D point cloud of Wyoming Middle School in Wyoming, Ohio, captured with a Leica HDS7000 laser scanner, as viewed in the Leica Cyclone software. Look for a feature article on Truescan3D’s involvement in the Wyoming Middle School project in the October issue of POB.