Kate Cheng graduated as a structural engineer from the University of Waterloo in 1986 and started a construction business with two classmates. They were excited to implement some of the innovations that we worked on at university. Initially successful, their business became a victim of an overly optimistic path as they entered the recession of the early 1990’s.
Armed with a unique CAD program that she helped develop and a desire to succeed in business, Kate regrouped and started developing digital as-built floor plans for the real estate community… the foundation of Planit.
Q. Please tell us about PLANIT MEASURING.
Our earliest clients included real estate brokers and building owners who needed accurate plans for marketing and area calculation purposes. There was a gap in technology to make the process of developing as-builts efficiently so, in the mid 90’s, we created our own tablet by reconfiguring a laptop computer and developing the first mouse-pen out of a simple marker shell with the electronics of a mouse inserted into it. A laser measuring tool was then connected to the tablet to create a digital input and we modified the CAD program for more efficient on-site use. The resulting “MeasuringBoard” allowed us to develop a fully complete as-built from scratch and QC the plans prior to leaving the site.
Over the years, the components of the MeasuringBoard were updated including adapting it to the on-site development of as-built 3D and REVIT models and, our client base shifted from primarily marketing/facility management focused to AEC. With the expansion in the use (and increased sophistication) of virtual design and construction technology, Planit’s toolset has also continued to expand. We invest heavily into testing, developing and deploying cutting edge tools such as LiDAR, panoramic imagery and web-based presentment platforms to enable faster and more accurate services to building stakeholders.
2019 saw a notable increase in the acquisition of highly specialized and qualified staff in the use of engineering grade point cloud scanning and modeling technology for the AEC industry and we just added a Leica RTC360 laser point cloud scanner to our suite of field data collection tools.
Q. What is the PLANIT MEASURING’s anticipation towards Digital Innovation?
The adoption of digital approaches to planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance has historically been hindered, in part, by the high cost and skills required to replicate accurate as-built information into digital formats.
However, the development of new high-speed, accurate data collection hardware combined with the ever-increasing computing capacity for data processing have led to opportunities to more easily implement the use of ‘digital twins’ for many different facets of the building industry.
Planit is always looking for new and better ways to leverage (or build) technologies to improve the way that we analyze and model the built world. Our motto is “Raise the Standard” and that principle guides everything that we do.
We have seen the great advances in point cloud creation with the proliferation of faster and more accurate technologies but less-so in the processing of the point cloud data. We are now working with the University of Waterloo’s AI program and others to implement solutions for the transformation of the point cloud data to consumable formats based on machine learning. Our involvement with the Open Geospatial Consortium has given us insight into the advances around the world with respect to the development of digital twins.
The human computer still has an integral role in the scan-to-BIM process. We want to capture these decisions and teach software to then make the same decisions and to transform the point cloud cluster into an actual digital object. The ultimate goal is to create a system to scan and create real-time BIM with computers performing the recognition and creation of digital models as the technician or device moves through the space. For the AECOO industry, such a system could quickly identify problems with the construction at multiple stages and assure the successful integration of all building systems, at a fraction of the cost of today. It will also allow the creation of a living digital history of the building to be used throughout the life of a building.
Q. Please tell us about PLANIT MEASURING’s philosophy about the importance of 3D Scanning in AECOO industry.
The benefits of using digital twins across the AECOO industry requires accurate and compete source data. 3D Scanning is the key technology in obtaining the most accurate and complete measurements and surveys. The point cloud format of the laser scan data, in which each data point has x, y, z values as well as a string of metadata, lends itself well to automated processing which offers even greater benefits related to reduced costs, increased accuracy and ultimately, the development of even further uses around this rich data set.
In addition to scanning a building for re-design purposes, scanning during the various construction stages will assure that all critical components and integrations of building systems can be captured and used in its operation. This is particularly crucial in the documentation of the below ground infrastructure including utilities and their systems.
Q. Please tell us about PLANIT MEASURING’s expertise in LIDAR laser scanning and advanced point cloud analysis services.
Planit’s team has been working with terrestrial, SLAM, and mobile LiDAR since 2010. Our team of over thirty experts, including engineers, architects, and experienced scan-to-BIM technicians are exclusively focused on as-built data capture and modelling.
We have done extensive research and testing of automated analysis methods and intelligent data management practices along with using the most advanced software to develop the best workflows for using laser scanning information. Our knowledge allows us to propose new approaches to traditional problems that require efficient solutions. For this reason, we are regularly called upon to participate in research projects and challenging jobs that require out-of-the-box thinking.
Q Please tell us about the importance of Spatial Analysis and Asset Inventory in the AECOO Industry.
The AECOO industry is currently pushing for better sustainability practices, data-driven design, and building management and automation tools. Intelligent spatial analysis can help reduce costs and drive efficiencies in estimating, designing, constructing and maintaining assets. Such analysis can also help design solutions aimed at creating workplaces that promote employee satisfaction and increased productivity which, over the life of a building, provides tremendous additional financial benefits to building stakeholders.
Point cloud datasets allow for a single source of “truth”, with the ability to export as-built information into various formats on demand.
The digital log of information can be studied, and the learnings applied to future construction projects to achieve better integration of building systems and more efficient set ups of each stage of the build. These studies can be shared over multiple projects with each one building on the efficiencies created by the last one. The obvious conclusion to all of this advanced digital building learning is the creation of mechanisms to autonomously construct buildings or building systems.
Q What are some of the major challenges in AECOO industry you feel
technology will help to overcome?
I believe that technology will continue to help:
Reducing construction change orders,
More streamlined scheduling and project coordination,
Maximizing the value and utility of physical space,
Lowering operating costs through more remote, intelligent and automated operations,
Ultimately, extend asset lifespans.
Q. Finally, please share your thoughts on what technologies will impact the
AECOO industry in the next five years?
We believe that advances in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will have the greatest impact on our industry in the next five to ten years.
The affordability and feasibility of accurate and complex digital twins will lend itself to several advances in the AECOO industry including:
Automated infrastructure modeling through machine learning,
Prefabrication through accurate digital models,
Planit is constantly testing and proving new ways to build and leverage digital twins and, is a reliable and knowledgeable resource to clients as we enter a new era of innovation.
Thank you for taking the time to share with us!