Field Review: Laser Scanning for Concrete

This article is included in the 2017 Year in Review edition of the DPR Newsletter.

At a time when recent reports say the construction industry isn’t changing fast enough, DPR Construction has earned international recognition with an award from Fiatech, an organization whose focus is “innovation that builds the world.”

During Fiatech’s 2017 Technology Conference and Showcase in Orlando, DPR’s Josh DeStefano accepted a Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation (CETI) Award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category on behalf of the entire organization. The CETI award recognizes DPR’s development of a new, quicker method for measuring the flatness of concrete floors in partnership with Rithm, a software developer, and Faro, a maker of 3D imaging devices.

Josh DeStefano accepts the Fiatech CETI award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category. Courtesy of Ken Frye

You can have a floor that passes the current standards, but still have constructability issues in the field. Today’s ASTM E1155 standards mention a basic assumption that you can’t measure every square inch of the concrete deck for flatness.

Now you can.

Over the past year and a half, on multiple projects, DPR has pioneered the measurement of concrete flatness with 3D laser scanning technology as an improvement over traditional methods of measuring. When DPR self-performs fundamental scopes of work, our own highly skilled craftspeople offer greater control, delivering the highest quality results for our customers.

With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. Courtesy of Ivy Nguyen

“We can–while the concrete is still wet–make a difference on the quality that is delivered to the owner of a building,” said DeStefano. “What once took a few days can now take minutes.”

Using traditional methods, concrete is poured and then measured, with a day or more of wait time to get the results back. At that point, the concrete is already dry, resulting in a lagging indicator of the quality of the concrete—and concrete quality is especially important for technical projects where precision flatness is paramount to successful installation of sensitive medical instruments and manufacturing equipment with precise calibration requirements. DPR has gotten this process of gathering results and getting feedback to the work crews down to minutes.

“That’s what’s beautiful about the laser scanning for floor flatness. We took something that was experimental, we brought it to our jobsites and tested it, and figured out a way to implement it into our workflow, staying true to our core value of ever forward,” said DeStefano.

Data can be used to create a “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations. Courtesy of DPR Construction

With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. This data can be used to create a high precision contour map, color coded elevation or “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations.

This enhanced information can help with better installation of equipment, proactive quality control and the ability to identify potential challenges before they become an issue. It can create an increasingly agile feedback loop of the BIM virtual environment, informing what happens on the field and back again.

“Ever forward is not just about keeping up, it’s about paving the way,” said DeStefano.