The Business of Laser Scanning: "…But we can save you millions!"

A 312Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

If you’ve met me you know I’m obsessed with the desire to scale my company, and honestly, our entire industry through the integration of 3d technologies. I also believe we need to expand beyond BIM, our lowest hanging fruit, and other industry niches that utilize 3d technology, but are cyclical in nature.

My simple proposition is we need to introduce, expand, and leverage 3d imaging beyond A/E/C, and into noncyclical industries. If we can do this, our cash flow is better; we don’t have to customize each deliverable; we increase our sustainability; and we become more profitable. Simply put, it’s easier and we all make more money.

With that in mind, I was whale hunting last month; we had the table set to introduce our "game changing" technology to a company who I’ll refer to as `Company X’ This company . is the single largest producer within their vertical market, has locations worldwide, is publically traded, and has annual revenues of approximately $60 Billion. They have antiquated production plants, production/manufacturing that are continually being updated with their new manufacturing technologies, and operate 24/7/365.

Company X admits they are challenged by horrific as-built information that is rarely updated as the plant undergoes routine modifications with their chemical supply lines. For Company X to remain relevant in healthcare, they’re always updating their products, and thus their manufacturing capabilities.

Arguably, it would be hard to identify a client who could benefit more from the integration of 3d imaging and digital design.

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel
So we get the meeting with `director’ level personnel to introduce laser scanning and 3d modeling along with all the objective value propositions. We complete the obligatory PowerPoint presentation, present case study data; fly point clouds and 3d models. We even do a real-time scan in the boardroom and using the point cloud measure from one attendee’s nose to the door across the room.

At this point I’m feeling like George Jetson (cartoon character from the future) who’s returned with space age technology to help these educated business people revolutionize their business. They are blown away, and seem to really understand it.

Best of all, we’ve quantified our message to show them how we can save them money. We’ve proved the ROI!

What can go wrong?

Here Comes the BOOM!
Sitting there 90 minutes later I’m beginning to sense it’s not going to go our way. At this point, we should be talking about an implementation strategy, instead they start telling me why they can’t use 3d technology. I’m witness to a roundtable discussion where Company X concludes they’re just "not ready".

My years in business and gray hair tell me to fall back and ask questions rather than take it personally. I start with simple questions and work my way deeper. I’m seeking to understand how they’ve reached their conclusion.

I ask if they understand how using the fastest, most accurate form of 3d measurement on planet earth can help them– "yes" is their collective response. I ask if using 3d technology can benefit those outside Company X who work onsite in designing, maintaining, and operation– "yes, of course" is the response. I ask [one of my go-to questions], what they would do if the tables were turned? If they worked for my company, and were trying to get Company X to integrate this technology, what would they do? They answer, "we’re not sure."

At this point, exasperated, I go for broke, "So…we have a technology that’s affordable; proven; and can literally save you hundreds of thousands of dollars, probably millions, in year one; and you’re not interested?!"

Post Mortem
So how could we have been so close and not won the prize? How could they recognize the value and say, "not now." The first and most obvious conclusion we reached was it involved too much `change’ from their current methods/ procedures. For them it was moving from a bicycle to a Ferrari. Compounding the situation was that generationally speaking, these were the Old Guys, and they are content with what they are doing. The Old Guys control how the budgets are spent and I believe they were threatened by something they perceived as possibly eroding their control.

Additionally, there is no incentive to be the first one to jump. Early adoption, combined with possible failure, and it could be a career killer. It’s a much higher stakes game if you’re the innovation leader.

Finally, not until we toured the plant did I realize how unionized their operation was. Some saw our presentation as a job reduction initiative. Company X executives live in the same town with the plant employees, who shop at the same stores, eat at the same restaurants and whose kids are on the same Little League team.

It’s ultimately easier not to change than it is to try something new.

Looking Forward
My belief is that the integration of 3d imaging technology as a very long way to go before it’s considered commonplace. We’ll have early adopters, but most will want to wait until they think it’s safe to integrate. When younger generations become the Old Guys, they’ll demand 3d. And when `everybody is doing it’ so , will corporations throughout the world.

Until then today’s 3d imaging industry will chip away and provide education which will lead to relatively slow integration into the mainstream. The fantastic news is that we can recognize profits that a mature, commoditized industry cannot, we just have to work a little harder at obtaining them.

(Good news. All was not lost. We’re doing a proof-of-concept for Company X in a month.)

Ken Smerz is the President of President/ CEO of Eco3d ( a service provider that travels throughout the nation working with A/E/C and forensic clients. He can be reached at with any questions or comments you might have.

A 312Kb 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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