Multi Site
1080 565 Andy McFarland

3D Laser As-Built Surveying in the Information Age

4 Ways 3D Laser Scanning Is Changing Your As-Built Customer Experience

At PPM, we work closely with architects throughout the country and know the demands of the job. We get it. You’re busy, you’re under a deadline, you need the most accurate As-Built survey possible, and you want it to be completely “Worry Free.” Believe us. We’ve been in the business for over 18 years now, and we understand what you need in an As-Built survey whether you’re starting a home remodel, moving your business to a new location, or renovating the guest rooms at a large hotel.

It’s this understanding of our customers’ needs that has been one of the primary catalysts for the adoption of 3D laser scanning into our As-Built surveying process. For the first 14 years in business, we did everything manually with tape measures, laser distance meters, sketching boards, and good old-fashioned problem solving. But within the last couple of years, as this technology has developed, we decided that laser scanning is the best way to enhance your As-Built surveying customer experience. How are these handy 3D laser scanning gadgets helping us help you? Let’s dive into it.

1. Decreased Time On Site, So You Can Get Back To Your Day

3D laser scanners have dramatically reduced the amount of time that our surveyors need at the job site to capture all the necessary As-Built information. Take the example of a typical 2,500 square foot single family home – the type of project we survey just about every day at PPM. It used to take one of our surveyors around 5-7 hours to gather all the measurements and information we needed for this type of project. That’s an entire day of us at you or your client’s residence, measuring every inch of the building. If you’ve ever had workers inside your house for an entire day, you know that this can be somewhat obtrusive and often requires you to plan your entire day around the worker’s schedule.
Now, with 3D laser scanning, we’ve cut our time in the field dramatically. A project that used to take us about 7 hours in the field only a couple of years ago, today takes maybe 1 to 2 hours (for a typical residence or small commercial building) using a laser scanner. This means that we can get in, get what we need, and get out before you or your client even figures out what they are having for lunch. You can get on with your busy schedule, or just relax in your house without a stranger hanging out all day. Although, I do think we make pretty decent house guests.

 

3d-scanning-technician-at-work

On location with one of our 3D scanning specialists. Our laser scanners work well in both small and large spaces.

2. Millions of Data Points = We Can Accommodate Any Request

Another big advantage of using a 3D laser scanner for As-Built surveying is the amount of information that is gathered. Before laser scanners, we had to pick and choose the measurements we would take and the information we could capture based on the scope of work requested by our client. If our client wanted an As-Built floor plan and reflected ceiling plan (RCP), we would only gather enough data to complete these 2 plan types. Now with the laser scanner we can digitally capture everything visible in your house or building with incredible precision. This means we know where every wall, window, door, ceiling beam, light fixture, cabinet, and piece of furniture is located in the building.

This information gathered from your property by the 3D laser scanner contains millions of data points that we use to create your finished As-Built deliverables. The big advantage for our customers in capturing all this data is the flexibility that it provides if more information is needed. For example, what if our customer decided after the field visit that in addition to the floor plan and RCP, they need some interior elevations and a section drawing? Previously we would have had to return to the building to take additional measurements – requiring additional time to schedule a second field visit, and an additional inconvenience to the property owner. With laser scanners, we already have all of the data we need to create these additional As-Built plans, so we are able to accommodate these change order requests quickly and keep the project moving. It’s what we do best!

 

Roof Top View By 3D Scanner

Our 3D Laser Scanning team can produce As-Built surveys of a variety of different building types.

3. Complicated Structures are Now a Breeze

It’s hard to overstate how much more precise our AutoCAD and Revit deliverables are now that we use 3D laser scanners. We have always been extremely accurate, recording individual measurements to the fraction of an inch and employing multiple redundancies and other As-Built best practices to ensure a quality product. But, to be honest with you, there’s just no equating what can be done with tape measures and simple electronic measuring tools compared to what we can do with 3D laser scanners.

No matter how many measurements we took back in the good old days, we simply couldn’t have collected as much information about your building as a laser scanner can. For a simple building with basic geometry, it might not make too much of a difference. But for larger structures and more complex architecture such as curved walls, vaulted or arched ceilings, and non-standard angles, laser scanners provide a whole new level of precision and detail. This increase in total accuracy becomes even more critical when we are creating a comprehensive 3D BIM model from the data captured in the field. This benefit to our customer is yet another reason why we’ve decided to adopt this technology with so much passion.

Happy-customer-shaking-hands-with-PPM-surveyor

At PPM, we take great pride in making sure that our customers are comfortable and satisfied with all phases of our service. With the faster location time afforded by 3D Laser scans, our customers are even happier.

4. You Tell Us What You Want And We’ll Deliver

If I haven’t made it abundantly clear already, 3D laser scanning allows us more flexibility to tailor our deliverable to your needs. Because we have so much data gathered for your As-Built survey and because this information is accurate, complete, digital, and portable – we have a wide variety of options for our clients when it comes to the As-Built information we provide.
The 3D “point clouds” generated by a laser scanner can be worked with either in 2D or 3D. Our 2D AutoCAD drawings and 3D Revit models can be created exactly to your specifications and are always designed with your project’s best interest in mind. This means that our customer service and project management outreach is more important than ever. We have a dedicated staff whose primary purpose is to find out exactly what you require, and then create a deliverable that will make your job infinitely easier. Another new option is to deliver the raw data (the point cloud) directly. For those that know how to work with it, the point cloud is an extremely detailed “digital twin” of the building and can be delivered as soon as the day after the field work.

3D Laser Scanners – Good for Us and Great for You!

So, as you can see, 3D laser scanning has really improved the As-Built customer experience in many different ways here at PPM. We are beyond excited to see how this technology will continue to revolutionize our business and provide you with the best As-Built service possible.

Now that you know how 3D laser scanning can improve your customer experience for your remodel projects, I hope you’re as excited about these new developments as we are. Reach out to our team with any questions you may have. We’re here to support your next remodel project!

About PPM

At PPM, our goal is to help set you and your project up for success from the start. While we are dedicated to tried-and-true process and deliver consistently accurate plans, success is not just in the numbers – it’s a feeling of trust, confidence, ownership and teamwork. Our team is committed to Core Values that drive our business and our clients’ success. We’re here to support you every step of the way.

Do you have an upcoming remodel, addition, or historic preservation project we can assist with?

Interested in learning more about our As-Built Survey process?

1024 694 Andy McFarland

Planning a Multi Site As-Built Survey Program – Get It Right!

4 Critical Steps to Planning a Multi Site As-Built Survey Program

Last week I wrote an article about a specific type of As-Built services that PPM began offering in 2009 – “Multi Site” As-Built surveys.  A Multi Site survey program involves 2 or more locations (often hundreds) of the same type, and for the same client – most typically retail, restaurant and banking brands that are doing a regional or national remodeling program. These high-volume programs have grown to become the majority of our business, and we believe the primary source of future growth opportunities for PPM.

Let’s say a potential client contacts us with an upcoming store rebranding program.  They need to get 500 retail locations surveyed over the next 6 months.  That’s a lot of manpower and logistics to coordinate – what do we need to do in order to successfully execute this request?  Compared to a “Single Site” project, the stakes are much higher for both sides – any mistake that is made or shortcut that is taken in the beginning is magnified many times over, creating a domino effect down the line that can wreak havoc on the program timeline and results.  We have learned that it is absolutely critical to invest the time and energy needed in the beginning to communicate openly with the client, and plan all aspects of the survey program PRIOR to getting started with the site work.  We believe this so much that we’ve had to turn down projects when the necessary information just wasn’t forthcoming from the client, because we didn’t want to put ourselves or our clients in a situation where there’s any doubt at all as to the ultimate success of the program.

Here’s the 5 steps that we have identified for planning a successful Multi Site Survey program:

  1. Discuss Program Objectives
    • What is the purpose of the potential program, and what is our client’s role? With all the parties involved, it’s helpful to know where we are in the chain – no pun intended.
    • Is the client bidding or do they have the work secured? Our objective with this question is to get our services lined up as EARLY as possible within the client’s process.  This ensures alignment of budgets, products/services, and schedules/timelines which allows us to hit the ground running when the time comes for the full rollout.
    • What is the current workflow/process? This stems from the question above to get a sense of how the client is used to working on these programs and, also, to let them know how we typically run programs. Every program is unique and we love having these conversations early on to better know how to customize our services or processes during these early phases – with the goal of delivering a streamlined, design-ready package.
  2. Gather Program Information
    • Site information (size, layout, quantity, locations, corporate or franchised, etc..)
    • Scope of Work (As-Built Plans needed, item checklists, areas of focus)
    • Deliverables (CAD file, PDF, photos/videos, customized output)
    • Scheduling/Access (Who, how, hours of access, restrictions, contacts)
    • Timeline (Desired turnaround time, weekly delivery targets, overall program benchmarks and expectations)
    • Budgets and Pricing Expectations
  3. Assemble Program Team (tentative)
    • As-Built Surveyors (location, quantity, capabilities)
    • Project Management
    • Drafter and Quality Assurance support staff
    • Administrative and Customer Service support staff
  4. Create Program Proposal Package.  Not just a price, but a preliminary Program Fulfillment Plan which addresses:
    • Scope of Work/Deliverables clearly defined
    • Scheduling Practices/Assumptions
    • Timeline including Pilot Phase and full rollout ramp-up capabilities
    • Price (typically a flat per/location fee)

AS-BUILT PROGRAM FULLFILLMENT PLAN

Cover Page of a PPM Proposal / Program Fulfillment Plan

This amount of planning, before we even have a signed contract, is a significant commitment.  But we believe it’s absolutely necessary to ensure the excellent results that PPM is known for, and that our clients deserve.  The work on the front-end will ultimately save you much more time and stress later down the road (in fact we have picked up several As-Built programs midway through completion – likely due to our competition NOT taking the time to complete these steps).  It’s all a part of our Purpose as a company to help create “Worry Free Renovations”!

Next week, I’ll delve into one of the first things we do after we have a contract for a Multi Site Survey program – “Pilot” surveys.

1024 683 Andy McFarland

It’s All About “Multi Site”! Nationwide As-Built Survey Programs

Multi-Site As-Built Programs

Last week we started a new As-Built site survey program for McDonald’s (which you may have seen on PPM’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages).  We surveyed 6 locations in Oklahoma City, and we are just finishing up these “pilot” As-Built drawings for our client.  7 years ago if you would have told me that PPM would be measuring McDonald’s in Oklahoma, I would have told you to cut back on the glue-sniffing.  This expansion of our business obviously didn’t happen overnight, and this new survey program got me thinking about everything that has happened went before this step, and all that we have learned over the years about “Multi Site” survey programs such as this.

It started in 2009.  Up to that point, since our founding in 2002, we had worked exclusively on “Single Site” projects, meaning a single location (such as a house or commercial building) for an architect client.  But just as that market was really drying up with the recession, we were approached by a new potential client that needed to get As-Builts for a bunch of Long’s Drugstores (remember them?).  Long’s had just been acquired by CVS, and our client was managing the “rebranding” of those stores.  So over the next 4 months, we ended up measuring about 60 locations in San Diego and the Bay Area. It was a great survey program for us at a very opportune time, but we also realized quickly that it was not scalable or even sustainable – Colin and I did every single one ourselves on weekends, nights, and whatever time we had in between our other “regular” projects.

But that program showed us the opportunity that existed for nationwide As-Built surveying. So since then, we have hired more people and developed a network of 50-100 professional As-Built surveyors distributed throughout the U.S, so that we can offer our services in every major metro area of the U.S. without needing to travel.  But more importantly, we have fine-tuned the processes – such as project management, quality assurance, administration, etc… – that enable us to deliver a consistently high quality As-Built product and first-rate service to nationwide retail clients.

Here are a few of the common questions we hear about Multi Site Programs, and some things we have learned in our experiences:

Q:  What is a Multi Site As-Built Survey Program?

We define “Multi Site” as anything with multiple locations with the same client, type of space, scope of work, and deliverable output.  They can be regional or nationwide. Even within this we further define 2 varieties:

  • Traditional Multi Site – (A large batch of locations with regular scheduling, weekly delivery targets, etc.)
  • Recurring Single Multi Site – (one location released at a time, as needed by client)

Q:  Who are the Clients?

We are typically measuring stores for national or regional brands. The most common clients are retail, restaurant, and banking. Our client can be the corporate brand itself, a 3rd party design/construction firm, or even a further level down the chain (such as a fixture manufacturer/installer).

Q:  Why are they needed?

Most common uses for an As-Built site survey would be some kind of remodel project such as a store rebrand/redesign (the entire store or just a portion). Often this is due to a merger/acquisition with another company (such as the Long’s / CVS program) or a brand new store opening. Other uses include custom fixture installation and facilities management.

Q: What is the typical scope of work /output

That is the beauty of these programs, it is completely customizable to what the client needs for their specific project. Typically we are asked for As-Built Floor Plan, RCP, basic MEP info, and other info such as photos or custom site survey info. Sometimes the client already has their Scope of Work and As-Built plan standards figured out, but often they don’t so we work with them to help dial it in. Then we can produce it exactly that same way for every location nationwide.

Q:  What are the main challenges?

  • Project Management – This is completely different from what is required on a single location survey. Our client is literally coordinating hundreds or even thousands of remodels based on our survey output and workflow, so our scheduling, communication, tracking, and administration need to be proactive and 100% reliable.
  • Workflow Processes – When you are surveying 1 location you can rely on your skill and experience alone to produce a great product. You can improvise when needed.  This is not the case with Multi Site programs.  All processes need to be documented, repeatable, and scalable.  It is the only way you can produce consistent output every time, no matter who does the work.
  • Team/Workforce – You need to have the right surveyors in the right places. But just as important, you need a balanced and effective internal team of Project Management, Drafting, QA, Customer Service, and Administrative staff to coordinate and execute all aspects of the program.
  • Clients – We love our clients – but often they don’t even know what they want or need! But this is not their fault, they just haven’t ever seen it done the right way before.  Working with clients can be a challenge, but it is incredibly rewarding to help them transform the way they run their redesign programs.

Q:  What are the main advantages?

  • Focus/Specialty – When you get a chance to survey hundreds of similar locations for the same client, it really gives you a chance to innovate and orchestrate your processes for maximum efficiency.
  • Fewer Clients – Working with a smaller number of clients you can give more attention to each one. It allows you to be more attentive and obtain a much deeper understanding of your client’s needs.
  • Scalability – Since Multi Site survey programs involve so many locations, you get a lot more volume for each new program. This allows the business to scale much quicker than you do by signing up one location at a time.

It has not been an easy road to enter this market, and we have made mistakes to be sure.  We have learned through trial and error over the course of 20+ nationwide As-Built survey programs, and 5,000+ individual locations surveyed.  But through hard work, a willingness to learn, and unwavering commitment to satisfying our clients, Multi Site projects are now 2/3 of our business.  Over the next few articles we will go into the details of starting and running a large As-Built Survey program that upholds our purpose as a company – “Worry Free Renovations”.

Do you have a Multi Site survey program to discuss?