Projects & expertise | 13 March 2024

Seeing the bigger picture: how 3D laser scanning is revolutionising land development

We understand the importance of thorough and precise land development planning. In the ever-evolving landscape, innovation is key to maximising efficiency and achieving optimal results.

That’s why we’re committed to embracing cutting-edge technologies, like 3D Laser Scanning.

What is 3D laser scanning?

3D laser scanning uses a sophisticated laser device that emits pulses of light, efficiently capturing millions of data points across a designated area.

This data can then be used to create a highly detailed and interactive digital replica – known as a 3D point cloud – which acts as a digital representation of the land’s topography, man-made structures and vegetation.

Models can be used in several different applications by a range of professionals. Architects, engineers and real estate agents are those who may benefit from this technology the most!

The 3D laser scanning technology is now more broadly seen throughout the land development industry, but we are yet to see professionals such as architects and developers, reap the benefits the technology brings.

Benefits of 3D laser scanning in land development

3D laser scanning offers many benefits, and revolutionises the way data of land development sites, whether a plot of land or an existing structure, is both captured and used.

Precision pays off: enhanced accuracy for efficient land developments

Compared to traditional surveying methods, 3D scanning offers superior accuracy, reducing the risk of errors and rework which may come from human error.

By capturing the data much faster than typical surveying practices, such as manually measuring spaces and distances with a tape measure, your projects will be more efficient and cost-effective.

Faster project timelines and reduced costs, thanks to 3D laser scanning, translates to a stronger return on investment for development projects. This enables clients to invest money in other crucial areas of their choosing, like upgraded finishes or additional amenities, ultimately enhancing the value of projects!

From concept to reality: improved design & planning

The detailed 3D point cloud that scans produce allows for sophisticated design and planning decisions.

Architects, engineers and developers can use point clouds to visualise the site in its entirety, optimising layouts, minimising excavation needs, and identifying potential challenges early on.

It’s particularly beneficial for renovations, additions and extensions to homes where there is already an existing structure. Traditional surveying provides information on a horizontal plane, while 3D laser scanning provides it in the vertical plane, too. This helps building designers to seamlessly add on to existing structures.

Data-driven decisions: making informed choices

The detailed 3D model enables in-depth analysis of the land, enabling more informed decisions throughout the development process.

This allows our teams to accurately assess site feasibility, plan infrastructure placement and optimise design for optimal functionality and aesthetics.

Building a shared vision: improved communication and collaboration

Due to the visual nature of the 3D model, it can help foster clearer communication between stakeholders, including developers, architects, engineers and contractors.

With this common reference point, collaboration is streamlined and potential misunderstandings are reduced.

As-built documentation: capturing what’s behind the walls

Details hidden within walls and under floors can be captured and seen in future thanks to 3D laser scanning. By capturing data during construction, a digital replica allows for the precise location of pipes, cables, and other crucial infrastructure to be documented.

This eliminates the need for disruptive and time-consuming demolition later on, saving time and money during renovations and future maintenance projects.

Beyond traditional plans: expanding the use of point cloud data

While surveying has traditionally been used to create 2D plans, our expertise extends beyond this. We can use point cloud data to produce various that help clients see just what the service achieves for them.

Site tours can be generated to immerse stakeholders in the project site, enhancing understanding and communication of the project.

A fly-through video displaying the capabilities of a site tour produced from 3D scanning

Digital twins can be created, which are digital representations of the physical site. This allows ongoing monitoring, maintenance and future project planning.

Registered point clouds can be produced by overlaying specific data points onto the model, providing a hybrid solution that combines the benefits of traditional drawings and point cloud data.

The point cloud data can also be classified, differentiating objects and features within the point cloud, allowing for targeted analysis and extraction of specific information.

Applications beyond land development

The benefits of 3D laser scanning extend well beyond traditional land development projects. Scanning can offer a range of services to professionals.

Point cloud data is increasingly used by architects for existing building surveys, allowing them to create accurate renovation plans and 3D models.

Our Building Design team at Millar Merrigan now uses 3D laser scanning data for projects where extensions or alterations of an existing structure are completed. As detail orientation is an important aspect of design, this helps to streamline processes for our teams, so they can be confident in measurements taken with 3D laser scanning.

By having important size and space data automatically included in the scan, net and gross area lettable plans can be generated with improved accuracy and efficiency.

Additionally, changes in time can be monitored with precise comparisons through deformation surveying. This can monitor the assumed declining state of an asset or building, to properly analyse how fast something, such as a retaining wall, is declining throughout several scans throughout time.

Unleash the potential of your land with Millar Merrigan

At Millar Merrigan, we understand the importance of embracing innovative technology to deliver exceptional service to our clients, whether your project needs the innovative methods our survey team can provide, or another service from our comprehensive suite.

Contact our team today to see how we can work together to turn your land development vision into a reality – or visit our 3D laser scanning service page to see recent projects.

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