It’s an all too common narrative.  ‘Laser scanning?  Meh… we used scanning once.  The data was too large for us to use and it was floating way out in space, not lining up with our model’  …or…  ‘We used laser scanning once, but the data was hard to understand and it didn’t have everything in it that we needed to see’.

The AEC realm is peppered with stories like this, much to the detriment of the scanning industry.

This year at Autodesk University 2015, I was encouraged by the dramatic increase in the interest of terrestrial laser scanning and inquiries into our services, but was dismayed by the number of stories like these that were shared with me.

As a service provider, it is our highest priority to ensure that the communication between our staff and the client is frequent, clear, and comprehensive.  It is imperative that the client and the service provider have well established expectations on what is being requested.  The onus to establish this expectation lies solely on the shoulders of the service provider.  Being an expert with laser scanning is part of the service we are providing, and that includes educating clients on our processes and deliverables, as well as exploring and coaching clients on how the data should be used on their end once it is handed off.

Terrestrial laser scanning service providers know that scan datasets are large and should forewarn clients of the potential size so that they can plan for storage, data transfer, and utilization.  Technical guidance like coaching clients to work on local drives rather than network shares should always be a key discussion point.

Understanding the computing capabilities of client workstations and the software they are using is critical as well.  A service provider should always make sure that large datasets are segmented into smaller consumable datasets that are easier to load and navigate by end users.  Also understanding how the client needs to reference the data (versus Revit models, CAD files, aerials images, etc.) is very important so that the proper geometric constraints can be applied to the datasets.  It is critical to our business to make sure clients are working efficiently with our data!

Understanding the scope of work that the client is pursuing is important as well.  Scanning service providers do not intrinsically understand every aspect of architectural, mechanical, structural or construction practices, but we must make every effort to understand the task at hand to ensure that clients get what they need to be successful on their project with our deliverable.

In short, laser scanning service providers should exist only to remove obstacles to success, not create them.  Spending the extra time discussing the project with a client – understanding their computing capabilities, workflows, and project needs – will pay dividends in trust, good working relationships, and many other success factors.  This standard of care will also help elevate the overall perceived value of scanning services throughout the industry.

All we need to do is take the time to ask the right questions.

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