The Business of Laser Scanning: When Will They (Really) Learn?

A 784Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

As the educational level and awareness of 3d imaging continues to gain momentum, end users are increasingly making the decision to purchase instruments and software to complete projects themselves versus relying on a service provider. The basic belief is that they’ll save money if they can remove the middleman and do it themselves.

It starts with the client working with a service provider to complete a project or two and then grows into "the jump" where they buy their own equipment and the calls/emails from the provider don’t get returned. Then there’s a couple of jobs that don’t go so well and there’s the admission to their provider about their situation and perhaps even a mention of wanting help.

This do-it-yourself process is usually championed by someone within the client company who takes ownership and believes it’s their own personal path to glory within their organization. They are usually someone who is more "techy" than the rest and can do a good job of convincing management what a great value it is for their company to offer this 3d imaging service internally. Unfortunately, this same champion is a person typically without any sort of operational plan, and hasn’t really put together a legitimate financial model.

The next phase is that the newly created 3d imaging department finds themselves struggling because one-size doesn’t fit all. Worded differently, what they learned on one project doesn’t transfer fluidly to the next. That’s because each A/E/C project is unique, the stakeholders are always different, and the deliverables change.

The next challenge they have is to create recurring revenue. While they might enjoy some initial success, it’s difficult to have the overall expenditure (wages, hardware, software, calibration fees, travel, etc.) pay for itself financially. One or two things happensfirst, they wrongly point the finger at their own company for failure to implement 3d technology internally; or, second they look to seek revenue by offering their services to others in the marketeffectively becoming your competition.

Then comes the alienation and potential crash. Instead of focusing on providing value, the new mission becomes staying relevant and providing value. Justification for their existence becomes critical. Instead of offering the latest in technology, or streamlining a deliverable to their own internal client, they go defensive and are more concerned with their own sustainability.

Good or Bad?
So, do we as an industry benefit or are we hurt from this failed experiment? Does it alienate end users from integrating the technology, or does it justify the service provider existence? Should we encourage our client’s investment at the expense of our own business success?

All we do in the creation and sustainability of our business should be geared toward a long term sustainability model. If you’re not looking down the road and anticipating the next curve, then you’re going to fly off a cliff. So the answer to the question is `hell yes’ we should encourage our clients’ exploration and integration of 3d technology as long as we’re honest. Here’s why:
Most, if they’re going to make the plunge, will do so regardless of what you tell them. And typically the deeper they go, the worse the train wreck will become. They will not have the staff, the educational resources, or the technical capacity to maintain the mission. This is where you come in and help them throughout the process. While it won’t be profitable in the beginning, you’ll get to be their consultant. And long term that’s a good revenue position for you to find yourself in.
It’s good for our industry. Because the market penetration3d technology integrationis still so weak, it helps create awareness and that benefits us all.
Service providers offering 3d imagingif you know what you’re doingwill be able to carve out higher profits because they can more easily distinguish themselves within the market. You’re essentially having value in your business created by having the do-it-yourself crowd falling on their face. Why? Because 3d imaging technology does work and can save significant project costs, and ultimately that’s where a business can survive and grow.

So, to all of our end users out there who believe they can do it better than we can…chase your dreams. We’ll be here to help pick up the pieces.

Ken SmerzPresident of Eco3d Eco3d is a 3d modeling company that incorporates a variety of technology to promote sustainability on projects throughout the nation. Ken can be reached at

A 784Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

About the Author

Ken Smerz

Ken Smerz... CEO of Precision 3d, has worked the past 24 years within the construction industry as a licensed contractor and business executive throughout the western U.S. Upon discovering laser scanning, 3d imaging, BIM, Ken recognized an emerging market opportunity to provide consultation in a 3d world. Relying on his past experience and entrepreneurial spirit, he has positioned Precision 3d as one of the largest national providers of laser scanning and other 3d imaging services. His team of professionals specializes primarily in the Architectural/Engineering/Contractor marketplace as well as forensic investigation. The key to their business model is to provide exceptional customer service in helping clients achieve their specific goals.
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