Laser Scanning: Technology to Analyze Building Facades

  June 23, 2011

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor – Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is using laser scanning to analyze the condition of building facades.

How long should a building facade last? How often should technicians have to make facade repairs? To help answer these questions, maintenance and engineering managers can use laser-scanning technology.

Laser scanners can safely obtain millions of data points in just minutes. Efficiency in the analysis of the scan data is key to the technique's cost-effectiveness.

Laser scanning a building facade generates a highly detailed, three-dimensional model of a facility. Technicians can identify misaligned facade elements caused by corroding support steel by analyzing deviations in the point cloud of data.

Managers can compare multiple scans taken over time to determine amount, rate, or seasonality of movement. They can quantify the propagation of cracks in the facade, even if the cracks have been sealed.

The result is a more precise understanding of facade deterioration with time and predictions for required repair, which translates into savings. Managers and technicians also can understand the extent of repair areas, which translates into more accurate repair documents and lowers the potential for construction change orders. They also can assign priority and timing for repair projects with greater certainty, rather than depending entirely on past experience.

Managers can offset the added costs for laser scanning and other diagnostic technology through lower costs related to field time and less rigging. They also can limit the costs for scanning by decreasing the density of the scan in areas not requiring detailed analysis.

Managers still can look to engineering professionals as knowledgeable sources to interpret data made available by laser-scanning technology and to generate a comprehensive, analytical approach for repairs on the building. With this technology, managers and engineers can systematically analyze building envelopes without extensive site visits. Trading error for certainty through the use of laser-scanning technology and engineering analysis can help maintain structural integrity of aging structures and save managers time and money.


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