The Most Important Part of Field Work (That No One Talks About)

A 1.469Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

There are a number of challenges that you face when scanning in an active environment and it takes a technician skilled in both laser scanning and, as one of Dale Carnegie’s books mentions, the ability to "win friends and influence people" I’ve compiled a couple of scenarios in which our laser scanning technicians were challenged with wooing construction workers, forensic scientists, doctors and nurses along with the most notorious group of all… the general public!

At Precision 3D Scanning one of our focus areas is AEC and in most cases the people that share that working environment are prepared to interact with other trades and specialties. It doesn’t mean that you won’t get inundated with questions from every person walking by, but they will usually respect the personal space of your equipment and targets if they get an introduction. We’ve found that in most cases if you show up early enough to get in on the safety meetings at the beginning of the shift you get a chance to give a 2 minute talk. Use this time to give a description of what you’re doing and why it’s important to leave the targets where they are. This usually takes a lot of the unknown out of the equation for your fellow workers and lets everyone get on with business.

On a recent project at an active construction site we went through our typical process of `meet and greet’ in the morning. The laser scanning technician took the time to learn the names of some of the general contractor project engineers and the trade’s leads on site. He also let everyone know that he would do everything he could to stay out their way and respect their production goals.

After handing out business cards and shaking hands, we moved into the project area and found what you would expect after doing more than a hand full of jobs–an unprepared site! There was equipment staged everywhere, increasing our exposure to risk and reducing our line of site. In addition to the staging, there were some areas that we needed to gain access to but that would require careful placement of ladders and hoisting sensitive scanning equipment using ropes.

The scanning lead jumped into action and asked some nearby workers where their specific supervisor was (by name). They got him on the push to talk and a friendly conversation ensued. The trade supervisor was reassured that we understood the need for staging and asked if his team could temporarily relocate some pallets. It was almost too easy; the supervisor agreed and then insisted that one of his personnel stick around to help the scanning team lift the equipment with their scissor lift. This would have been a dramatically different scenario had the scanning lead had a bad attitude and not taken the time to make some friendly conversation (not to mention the respect he showed by learning and using the trade supervisor’s name).

One of the always interesting project types that Precision 3D Scanning undertakes is in the forensic realm. During a trip to scan wreckage from a crashed airplane, a technician came across the opportunity to use some of his savvy to get the job done while working with forensic scientists. There was a small window of opportunity to conduct the scanning. The entire team was offered only a few hours of access to the wreckage to compile all of their recordings. If you’ve never performed a forensic scan you should know that there is a lot of testing and recording done in addition to the scanning itself. To have everyone working on a limited timetable adds stress to the whole team of researchers, each one feeling that their specific goal is more important than the rest.

At the beginning of the project everyone was gathered at the gate of the storage yard making introductions. Our technician did the right thing and showed sincere interest in their specialties, asking intelligent questions and making eye contact. Very little was explained about laser scanning, just the 30 second elevator pitch, the rest of the time was spent inquiring about the others. When the time came to begin work, we quickly realized that this was going to be very difficult. Researchers were climbing in and out of the wreckage, moving pieces and parts around. There was no way we would be able to do multiple scans with the target moving.

The technician spoke with each of the scientists, explained his plight and asked if he could help them achieve their goals so he could gain access to one piece of the wreckage at a time while it was prone. Each one was happy to oblige and then offered their assistance by moving targets and ensuring that everyone kept a safe distance, so as to not disturb the scan. In this instance we would have been shut out completely had the technician not already engaged the others and shown enough interest to gain a basic understanding of what they were trying to achieve.

I’ve seen a reoccurring request come from our clients in the health care arena over the last few years. They want to use laser scanning to capture the existing conditions prior to getting started on a tenant improvement. The challenge is that to get the most benefit the scanning needs to be done prior to design. To operate that far ahead of the actual construction means that the facility is usually still active. We’re talking about everything from waiting rooms to emergency rooms. There is very little down time in those places!

We began a 500,000 sq.ft. hospital project with a lot of excitement. This was a large project and 100% active; we had 10 nights and 5 scanners to meet the deadline for capture. In addition to the typical challenges, our client asked us to be as vague as possible with patients and staff in order to prevent the rumor mill from kicking into high gear. This goes against some of the basic approaches we use to win over the locals so we’d have to be delicate in our approach to pull it off.

Each night before the crews got started the project manager would meet the hospitals head of staff along with the head of facilities and security for the evening. During the meetings we would reassure the staff that we were here to support them and would yield to them in any and all instances, we also made sure to collect contact information and request to meet anyone we might need to coordinate with through the night.

After satisfying any unease that the staff had we would hold a team meeting to discuss any internal concerns and to review the canned responses that the team should deliver when approached. The progress and status of each night’s work was relayed to the project manager who in turn delivered a report the next morning to our client, again issuing reassurance that everything was being treated with care. All of the careful planning would have been in vain if it had not been for the final move that guaranteed success–courteous members of the Precision 3D Scanning team. Opening doors, smiling, offering assistance, coordinating efforts and a general up-beat attitude were the largest contributing factors to a satisfied customer.

General Public
Precision 3D Scanning was invited to team up with the CK Group to laser scan the hiking trail for Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. This trail runs 2.5 miles and climbs about 1,400 ft. in elevation from base to summit. It is referred to as a "strenuous" hike and let me tell you, it absolutely is when you have a 40lb laser scanner on your back! Our objective was to scan the trail in its entirety and convert it to high density mesh surface. The CK Group would follow behind and tie the scan locations to survey control and benchmark elevations.

Did I mention that this trail receives over 300,000 hikers each year and it doesn’t slow down on the weekdays, no matter how early you start! Nothing stands out among a group of hikers like a laser scanning team and with every group that passed came the standard jokers and inquisitive outdoors enthusiasts. After a few days we realized that the constant interest was going to prevent us from completing this project in a timely manner. There was no way we were going to show anything but a great image to the public and after much deliberation we decided that the best way was to deploy a staff member in a public relations role to interact with the crowds. This lets our staff remain focused on scanning and safety while satisfying the curiosity of our hiking friends.

Precision 3D Scanning performs work throughout the United States and doesn’t settle for less than 100% customer satisfaction.

Ted Mort, Operations Manager of Precision 3D Scanning (, incorporates his diverse background in geomatics, computer science and construction to propel 3d imaging into the forefront of applied measurement in AEC. Mr. Mort has worked with renowned clients to successfully integrate advanced technology into their work flows.

A 1.469Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE