by Ken Smerz, as seen in LiDAR Magazine, published July/August 2015
Our company travels throughout North America working primarily in the AEC space with architects, contractors, owners, and specialty trades of all sizes working on a wide variety of project types. So for those of us who have been laser scanning providers for a long time (which in this market is just about anyone with 3+ years), you might be wondering where we are? What’s the status of our neophyte industry?
- We are still at early adoption stage on the Innovation Curve (http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_ innovations). There’s another 3-4 years of education that’s going to need to occur before its commonplace for laser scanning to be used. And until the owners get educated and demand 3d technology be utilized on all projects, it will remain a slower burn.
- Laser scanning—in particular—is still not used in the most logical and valuable application, which is during new construction to validate that the structure is built correctly the first time. Our company is in business today thanks to poor QA/QC standards that have been in effect for years. It’s almost inexcusable to build without excellent quality—but it’s still happening. [Job security?]
- There are significantly more BIM/ VDC professionals across the nation than anyone realizes and the number is growing. The challenge is that their education is so completely diverse with no uniform requirement; nonetheless there will be a convergence of the software usability which will lead to more standardized end products…but not for a while.
- The whole 3d imaging world is being driven by the creation of augmented reality. Laser scanning, 3d imaging, and similar, are the initial data capture tools that will allow AR to catch fire. The markets will transition from ground based scanning to indoor mobile all with the idea of AR as the final deliverable.
- The emergence of a Do-It-Yourself crowd who uses 3d imaging technology will continue to grow but only for a short time as these service will be outsourced more, and large service providers will emerge. Why? Because it’s ultimately less expensive to outsource data capture and creation rather than have the internal labor cost (think continuous education); and more importantly the legal exposure of providing bad data is too great.
- There are many markets left to explore with the integration of 3d capture technology. For example…computational fluid dynamics (CFD) along with energy efficiency analysis—offers an enormous opportunity to manage energy costs. It’s almost untouched. Think a company that does energy analysis using 3d technology would kill it if they went after large owners? Yep.
- From a service provider standpoint, many will go out of business in the next few years because they don’t have recurring revenue and lack the ability to run a healthy business, and are too enamored by the technology. They will sell their companies or switch jobs as the best operators continue to scale.
- There still not a leading industry publication or website that bridges the gap between the many silos that exist. Most are very specific to a user group, while others are too technical or make the assumption that the knowledge base is greater than it actually is. An independent web-based “information center” will emerge and provide thought leadership that will accelerate the growth.
- The biggest challenge we have integrating laser scanning, BIM, VDC, IPD, whatever, is not a technical problem— it’s 100% psychological. It’s overcoming the ‘status-quo’ that has been in place for years and what people are comfortable with. How do we solve this? Two ways—the first is to solve a problem for someone and don’t tell them you’re using 3d technology. The second is a matter of time—the old guys have to age out of their companies, and be replaced by the younger generations who grew up in 3d.
- The hardware/software vendors’ better figure out how important customer service is to their success. Too many of them are so focused on offering the next best thing that they forget it’s still about the relationships. And it’s about providing solutions that the masses can understand and utilize. I would genuinely appreciate your feedback. firstname.lastname@example.org and if there’s anything we can do to assist your efforts, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Ken Smerz is the President of President/ CEO of Eco3d (www.eco3dusa.com) a service provider that travels throughout the nation working with A/E/C and forensic clients. He can be reached at email@example.com with any questions or comments you might have.
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