Trial PointFuse

Case Study

IBKS generates 3D models four times faster by integrating the NavVis VLX with PointFuse Pro

2022 | 5 min read

a top down view of a 3d model showing a building on a white background

Background

Founded by CEO Mo Haidar in 2020, IBKS (Integrated Building Knowledge Solutions) is a technology business that supplies digital hardware and software solutions, and provides data capture and information management consultancy services to construction and real estate customers in California.

Building on its existing strengths in BIM and GIS, IBKS decided it needed to offer expertise in laser-scanning reality capture and data management. This would help it capture accurate as-built data as part of BIM processes deployed in ongoing construction projects, and would also meet growing demand from customers who wanted realistic models of their existing buildings before making decisions about space utilization or investment in refurbishments, extensions or new-build projects. Haidar said: “Most of the world’s buildings are not currently modelled or digitised, and most owner-operators have widely different levels of as-built information across their portfolios – in some cases, they may just have a scanned PDF of a drawing from the 1970s. Also buildings are like living organisms. They change over time as they age, and as people move from one space to another. Owners often have to do yearly walks of their buildings, monitoring differences over time, and highlighting significant changes.”

After some detailed market research, noting the speed advantage of a mobile data capture device over static laser-scanners, IBKS invested in a NavVis VLX scanner and began to scan customers’ facilities, quickly accumulating data about one million square feet of real estate. “But, to turn these point clouds into geometry and into BIM models with LOD 200 levels of definition, we quickly realised that we needed to accelerate the workflows.” Haidar said. Further research quickly led IBKS to PointFuse.

The challenge

IBKS’s most pressing need was to support a healthcare owner-operator organization in better understanding its buildings portfolio. This customer’s estate had grown rapidly in the last decade as the healthcare business expanded and acquired properties, most of which had little or no as-built data. IBKS devised a solution that incorporated its core strengths in BIM and GIS, along with its new data capture and modelling services. Haidar says: “We wanted to provide a customer platform that deployed a mapping interface to help users find individual buildings in the portfolio and overlay reality capture data  to create navigable models of the existing internal spaces of each building so that the customer could better optimize their space inventory for existing conditions and future needs.”

IBKS’s most pressing issue was how to utilize the point cloud outputs from its NavVis VLX hardware and have an efficient workflow for transforming these outputs into useable 3D models. The principal challenges included:

  • The large file sizes: every image is formed from millions of data points; individual files are commonly measured in gigabytes, requiring computers with high-powered image processing capabilities to make use of them.
  • False results: Importing point clouds into conventional BIM authoring applications like Revit can identify 1,000s of issues, many false, arising from the scanning process.
  • Skills requirements: Converting point clouds to a design model tends to demand an experienced and skilled professional.
  • Time delays: ‘scan-to-BIM’ conversion processes often took days to finalize.
a man wearing a mask and a piece of building scanning equipment

IBKS has been working on its ArcGIS indoors solution, combining technologies it was already using from Autodesk and ESRI. Conventional maps are used to help the customer’s users quickly see the whole portfolio ‘at a glance’. Once the user selects a building where further modelled information is available, the IBKS platform then lets users explore 3D models of the internal spaces in the building.

a screenshot from revit of top down view of a 3d model showing a building

Beverly Boulevard Healthcare example in PointFuse

The solution

IBKS had tested the NavVIS hardware by capturing point cloud data about its own offices, and, having installed PointFuse Pro software, it easily loaded the data and generated usable working 3D and 2D outputs. IBKS, led by Digital Twin Solutions Lead Spivey Lipsey, used their familiarity with their own building to quickly classify key information.

Meshing enables much more efficient representation of point cloud data. By capturing surface edges and combining data points across surfaces, a dense point cloud can be converted into a lightweight mesh of geometric shapes (polygons) that can be more quickly assembled, viewed and explored. PointFuse reduces files to a fraction of their original point cloud size – measured in MB rather than GB – so that users can rapidly open, view and share them. The 3D mesh can be laid over an existing drawing or design model for initial assessment and identification, measurement and classification of elements such as walls, floors, doors and other openings.

IBKS selected PointFuse Pro version of the software as they were looking for Scan-2-plan capabilities. The Space Creator module enabled their team to automatically convert classified mesh walls, windows and doors into ‘family’ groups which could then be easily integrated to third party facilities management software.

The process

IBKS talked to its healthcare client about deploying PointFuse on point cloud data scanned in its buildings. The client encouraged pilot testing of the technology on two sample locations: a building with large open-plan floor spaces, and a building with more enclosed spaces. Both buildings also varied in their levels of unutilized space: one had less than 5% vacant space, the other had around 20% vacancy; one was mainly office space with some plant rooms, the other also had rooms containing radiology and other medical equipment. Testing the technology and workflows on different buildings helped IBKS and the client to understand how long it took to capture and process the data and create useable models – vital for rolling out the approach to other buildings in the portfolio.

The pilot process showed that IBKS could quickly process point clouds and begin geometrical digitisation. “It is easier to get the big picture sooner, which is what our client wanted,” Haidar said. “We can quickly identify the geometry of walls, openings and corridors, and provide whole area take-off measurements before delving into the detail.”

PointFuse avoids having to start with Revit, eliminating a lot of manual scan-to-BIM processes and excessive tagging of detailed point cloud content. We don’t need to onboard people in Revit, which is a lengthy process – users can be working in and learning about 3D environments in a matter of hours.

Spivey Lipsey, IBKS

PointFuse also enabled IBKS to make more efficient use of its staff. The company could deploy more junior and less experienced professionals to undertake the initial analyses of point cloud outputs. “PointFuse has become a good stepping stone for new staff,” said Haidar. “It has also helped us deliver more outputs without having to hire experienced users of BIM authoring tools such as Revit, helping to lower the cost-base of the company.”

Spivey Lipsey underlined this advantage: “PointFuse avoids having to start with Revit, eliminating a lot of manual scan-to-BIM processes and excessive tagging of detailed point cloud content. We don’t need to onboard people in Revit, which is a lengthy process – users can be working in and learning about 3D environments in a matter of hours.

“People also don’t struggle to produce useable outputs. It’s an almost automated process: mesh, categorize, generate IFC model. Having a very uniform process gets people working more consistently; our users can quickly focus on model elements that are important to the client. And having ‘clean’ models that are also lightweight are huge plus points.”

a top down view of a 3d model showing a building

Beverly Boulevard Health care example output in Revit

Benefits

  • Fast adoption – PointFuse is simple-to-use, requiring little or no training
  • Lower skills requirement – PointFuse simplifies point cloud interpretation and modelling tasks that previously required experienced BIM authoring software users
  • Greater consistency in both interpretation of point cloud data and generation of outputs for clients
  • Faster turnaround of point clouds into 3D models – detailed outputs in days not weeks, and high-level outputs delivered even more quickly
  • Time savings – 3D model outputs achieved in 25% of time
  • Cost savings of over 44%