How 3D Laser Scanning Improves Engineering Design (especially in our COVID-19 world)


At InterTech, our engineers optimize production line designs for space and efficiency. As you might expect, accurate site information and understanding is critical for success. While 3D laser scanning is used in a variety of applications, the technology proves to be notably valuable in engineering design.

We use our FARO Focus S70 3D laser scanner to record fine details and precise measurements that were previously difficult, time consuming, and often inaccurate using traditional methods.

With the help of Brendan Fedor, I wrote this article to explain how this process works, and how it can help you get an accurate takeoff of your manufacturing plant or other facility.

With its remote capabilities, we have found this scanning technique to be especially useful in our COVID-19 world.

Our 3D Laser Scanning Process

Our 3D laser scanning process is simple. Once a potential project area in your plant is identified, the InterTech team mobilizes to execute the scanning. Each scan takes 3-4 minutes to complete and captures an area of up to 800 ft². For example, a 75’ x 400’ project area will take approximately 38 scans and 2-2.5 hours.

In just a few days, our team can complete field surveys that typically take weeks to finish.

The Point Cloud

The scanner unit rotates while projecting a laser probe outward. The laser probe reflects off of solid surfaces and returns to the two sensor cameras located within the scanner. This captures the distance and location. The Focus3D software then converts this data into a digitized coordinate system (XYZ) known as a “point.”

Hundreds of thousands of points are collected every second with a precision of +/-1mm. Data points are compiled and organized using a specialized software to create a visual representation known as a “point cloud.”

The point cloud serves as a preliminary as-built model for the project. Knowing the exact location of potential interferences such as fixtures, devices, conduit, piping and more is vital to constructability, schedule and budget. Too often, interferences go undetected until construction, resulting in schedule delays and change orders.

By implementing preconstruction 3D laser scanning, InterTech can help you properly plan and execute projects while maintaining schedules and budgets.

John Brancato and Brendan Fedor at InterTech’s Sacramento Office

Remote Capabilities of 3D Laser Scanning

Adjusting operations to include remote job site coordination is a necessity in our COVID-19 world. Never before has it been more important to have the capability of collaborating with both clients and contractors through virtual site walks.

In addition to the point cloud, a scan also creates a 360-degree horizontal and 290-degree vertical real panoramic view from each scanned location – similar to Google’s “street view” feature. These tools add clarity to discussions with clients about innovative design solutions to address their specific needs and achieve their specific goals.

When preparing for contractor mobilization, this site information is critical to answering contractor questions and concerns prior to construction in order to stay on schedule and budget.

Recently while securing bids for a new water processing system installation, InterTech was forced to cancel contractor job site walks due to COVID-19. However, because we had implemented a complete preconstruction 3D scan, the walks were performed virtually with mechanical, electrical, and general contractors.


3D laser scanning your plant or facility will lead to a more complete design to create solutions once thought impossible – whether due to space constraints or budgetary demands. The scan returns benefits for both current and future projects.

If you’d like to read more about this topic, click over to How to Get an Accurate Takeoff of an Existing Structure.

Thank you for reading our blog post. We welcome you to contact us with any questions or to schedule your own scan.


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InterTech brings clients value by performing plant engineering services with integrity, skill and efficiency. Our specialty is working within existing facilities to optimize line design for space and efficiency.

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