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Using 3D Laser Scanning to model the Canterbury University Engineering Building

Lauded as one of the largest building projects in NZ, Canterbury University is undergoing an exciting transformation that will deliver some of the most modern teaching, learning and research facilities in the southern hemisphere.

A key project is the expansion and complete modernisation of the Canterbury University Engineering Building. What makes this construction project really interesting is that it is part new and part fitting into an existing structure and involves rebuilding every wing and constructing an entire new wing. However, due to this the main contractor needed to know that the installed steelwork was right to confirm that the rest of the building beyond the core structure, would fit exactly in place.

As specialists in 3D laser scanning, Fox and Associates can digitally capture an exact replica of structures, buildings and landscapes as highly accurate 3D models and photos. The main contractor knew that the survey would require high precision and accuracy, so we were engaged to survey the installed steel work and confirm the ‘as-built’ location of the core structure.

The site was a network of large steel beams and columns, so Senior Surveyor, Phil Dewar and Field Assistant, Fraser McIrvine had to take lots of separate scans to measure all sides of the structure. These scans then had to be precisely joined together to produce one combined structure model.

This was done by first aligning all the scans using observed reference points and then generating a point cloud of the structure. Specialist software was used to best fit the structural beams and columns on to the points, creating highly accurate 3D models, measurements and reports.

The resulting data gave the client certainty about the final position of the steel works in a way that couldn’t be found otherwise. The building designers were able to tweak the design as construction was progressing, as they were working from verified 3D models.

Another key benefit is that the client now has an accurate record of how things have been built, which can be used to inform future design, building and maintenance processes.