Five BIM Predictions in 2015

Building information modeling has become an integral part of the way many construction firms do business. More and more contractors are seeing the benefits and value of BIM and using it to take a more proactive approach to construction.

Here are some of the exciting things happening in BIM you should expect to see throughout 2015 and beyond…

1. BIM is Here to Stay

Today, virtually every large construction firm has a BIM department in-house and even most medium-sized firms either have BIM departments or are in the process of getting one. This trend will continue this year.

New software has made it easier for field teams to extract information from the field and drop it into 3D models to accurately reflect real-world conditions. The result is more accurate models and a more efficient process with less rework overall.

“Once all of the big construction firms are using BIM, all of the mid-tier firms will start using it. The big architectural firms already use it so the smaller firms who want to work with them will also have to have it,” said Tate Jones, owner of LandAir Surveying Company, one of Atlanta’s top five surveying companies. “That migration will continue – similar to the migration from hand drawings to CAD. In five years, there will be very few firms who don’t use BIM.”

For most, the first step in BIM adoption is model coordination. As a next step, firms will extend BIM to include laser scanning before and during construction, as well as total station layout during construction.

Read the full article here in Leica Geosystem’s BIM Learning Center…

Company Culture: Buy-in is a BIG part of your early success!

Is a laser scan right for your next project? Before you jump in with this revolutionary technology, ask yourself these five critical questions:

#1: How will you use the data? This is always the first question we ask our clients. Talk it over with your provider and/or specifically state how you plan to use the data in the RFP.

#2: What software and version will you use? A point cloud processed in 2014 will not work well with 2012 software. More importantly, your CAD production may be only 20% of the potential.

#3: What exactly are your deliverables? Be specific when talking with your provider about what your expected deliverables are, whether registered point cloud 3D photography, color point cloud, black & white, a CAD-ready model, or a video fly-through of the site.

#4: What is your expected level of capture detail (expressed in inches)? For example, do you need to capture everything 2-inches or larger or 1-inch and larger? The difference in these two can be 4x the work effort! Give this a lot of thought and discussion.

#5: What coordinate system do you want to use? This can be very important, as you may have existing plans or CAD files. If the point cloud and plans are on the same system, they will align perfectly. This is also true with project elevations.

Once you have decided laser scanning is right for your project, the next step is getting buy-in from everyone in the company who will use this data. Don’t overlook this step because buy-in is key to your early success!

Be aware: there is a learning curve to using laser scans and point cloud data, but studies have shown that companies that make the transition from the old technology (two guys and a measuring tape and grid pad) to high speed data capture with precision and clarity are ultimately much more efficient.

To realize the full benefits, you will need a “champion” in upper management and a good CAD technician who genuinely loves the technology.

Plan a training budget and send your team to SPAR or similar 3D conferences. It will foster buy-in, change your workflow and increase your productivity (and profit) in the long run.


Tate Jones has over 40 years of experience in land and aerial surveying and was one of the country’s earliest adopters of 3D laser scanning technology. A nationally recognized expert in the field of 3D data capture, he has worked with hundreds of clients in the engineering, architectural and construction industries. Contact him at or visit


The field scanning process: How to get the best results

Once your laser scan has been ordered, there are some things you can do to prepare for our crews.

First, prior to the scan, have someone (preferably a knowledgeable project manager) onsite to communicate with the scan team when they arrive.

Make sure your plant managers know crews are coming. If there is a local safety course that needs to completed or specific plant instructions, let them know upfront. Also let crews know if there is special gear they may need like moon suits, hairnets, safety glasses or ear protection.

The project walk-through is a very valuable process because this is where we determine the location of the scanner setups.

Let crews know what is most important and what is less important. If a major conduit with fiber optics, a power transmission conduit, or particular piece of machinery is important to your project, for example, it is important to let the scanning crew know.

Also make sure the scanning crew has a contact that they can call if they have questions or need clarification mid-scan.

Crews will place targets around the scan area to tie all of the scans together and will remove them upon completion of the site visit. Once they understand the limits and the prime areas of interest, the scanning process will begin.

Though it is great to watch them work, these teams are professional and the less direction they have, the better the results! A typical job can take two days to several weeks. Each night, scanned data for the day will be checked to make sure there are no gaps or geometric issues with the data.

For black and white scan data, the process is simply this: scan, move to a new location, scan, move to a new location, etc. For color data, a set of photographs is added to the process: scan, remove the scanner, add a camera, take seven photographs (six at 60-degrees horizontally, one straight up), move the scanner, take photos at the new location, replace the camera with the scanner, scan, and repeat this sequence throughout the site.

This allows our crews to produce high-quality TrueView files. When they get into a rhythm, the above sequence maximizes efficiency up to 100%.

Post Processing

When the scan data comes back into the office, data is exported from the crew’s field laptop to the desktop. On large jobs, this will take several hours.

Next, if there are color photos, the color photo data is downloaded and registered to the point cloud. This process can take 5-10 minutes per set up. Around 100 set-ups can take 15 hours of technician time. (If there is only black & white data, we skip this step.)

Once the photo data is added to the raw data, the target information is then added to the data set. The data is then run through the final registration process. This program compares the data set to all the other common data sets and produces the final registered point cloud.

The point cloud is then tested visually and geometrically to make sure there are no errors. This is done by cutting it like a wedding cake to see that all of the horizontal surfaces line up and also looking at elevation views and pipe runs to make sure that these are consistent throughout the cloud.

After these are tested, the final registered point cloud is ready to be used. Files are then loaded on to a hard drive and shipped to you, the customer!

Now that you have the point cloud data, what do you do with it?

Registered point cloud data can be exported into AutoCAD, MicroStation, Bentley, Revit, Autodesk Recap and many other computer programs. Designers can then take this data and design and model it in a 3D environment.

A TrueView map of the site showing 3D spherical data in black & white or color can be created. You can measure between points in the point cloud with this free program.

Warning: We always recommend that for precise measurements, you use the point cloud information and not TrueView. The angle of the view can affect the measured distance in TrueView. At a minimum, check the measurement from several different views.

Computer models can also be built in Revit, AutoCAD or MicroStation and delivered to the client. These models can be imported into the point cloud and then “clashed” to see if the new model interferes with the existing point cloud.

Want to learn more? Contact us today to learn if a laser scan is right for your next project.


Tate Jones has over 40 years of experience in land and aerial surveying and was one of the country’s earliest adopters of 3D laser scanning technology. A nationally recognized expert in the field of 3D data capture, he has worked with hundreds of clients in the engineering, architectural and construction industries. Contact him at or visit


Getting a good estimate on laser scanning: What you need to know

When it comes to getting an accurate estimate on laser scanning services, it’s all in the details. The more detailed information you can provide vendors upfront, the more accurate your estimate will be.

What kind of information do vendors need?

Floor plans of the site and photographs. This will go a long way in getting vendors the information they need to provide you with an accurate estimate rather than just a “high guess” because they’re not sure what they are scanning.

“Character” photographs. These photographs can show a few strategic shots, which are better than simply saying, “It’s an MEP room,” (though it’s really 40-feet tall). If possible, show examples of density.

Video walk-through of the site with a smart phone, complete with narration. This is extremely valuable to vendors to get a clear idea of the scope of the project.

Accurate information on the site and work conditions. This includes extenuating circumstances such as crews only being able to work between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM, heavy factory work around the clock, extreme temperatures, mandatory safety training, difficult travel conditions (ex: 200 miles from the airport in “Nowhere, USA”), travel expenses not included in estimate, or dangerous site conditions like confined space entry that require special training.

For the best and most accurate price, be upfront and give providers a good idea of what they are getting into, including:

  • Travel to and from site. Include air travel, luggage, rental car, hotel and location.
  • Time on site. This is determined by how long it takes to begin work once crews get to the front gate and the available work hours. (Is it 4-6 hours max or 12 hours?)
  • Work conditions. High-density projects take longer. Lots of vibration slows down the scanning process.
  • Highly reflective material is very difficult to scan (ex: mirror glass, chrome pipes, shiny objects).
  • Heavy foot traffic (mall), loading traffic (fork lifts), or plant process (moving machinery) can complicate the project.
  • Dangerous conditions usually slow scanning, but crews can still perform and scan in sub-surface pipes or tunnels, interstate bridges and heavy construction zones.
  • Night work only always takes longer and increases the difficulty.

Other pricing considerations include the expected deliverables from the job and the level of detail you need, which software package you want data delivered in (some are faster than others), how complex the environment and large the site, and if additional trips are required back to the site.

Remember: though scanning may only take a week or less, modeling can take a month, as it is still not automated.

Most scan projects are too big to e-mail, so you can expect to receive the full deliverable on an external hard drive. Raw point cloud data can reach “gigabyte size,” though finished models and 3D data sets are typically much smaller.


Tate Jones has over 40 years of experience in land and aerial surveying and was one of the country’s earliest adopters of 3D laser scanning technology. A nationally recognized expert in the field of 3D data capture, he has worked with hundreds of clients in the engineering, architectural and construction industries. Contact him at or visit

Our 25 Hours in Haiti

The alarm was set for 4:00 AM. It was going to be a long day.

The mission was to travel to Haiti to survey space for a new community kitchen. The existing kitchen feeds some 1,400 children each day their only meal, which most days is no more than beans and rice. They are the lucky ones. Many children in the area receive only “mud cookies,” which is exactly what you are imagining.

Several Atlanta-area churches joined together to build a new, bigger kitchen in Port au Prince that can feed as many as 10,000 people. They enlisted the help of LandAir Surveying and Paul Gresham, an architect who works with Chick-fil-a and a member of one of the involved churches, to create a base map for the master construction plan.

I made the trip to Haiti with Allen Nobles, president of Nobles Consulting Group in Tallahassee, Florida. We have been friends for many years and have worked together on projects all over the country – but nothing quite like this.

The plan was to scan the entire site consisting of an existing one-story school, an old building housing the existing kitchen, the future kitchen site, and a church and the campus walls around it. The existing kitchen has no running water and the sewer system is merely a pipe that goes through the wall to a creek out back. By Haitian standards, this is state of the art.

To further complicate matters, this is a particularly scary part of Port au Prince with a high crime rate. People are poor. Tourists have been kidnapped. Dysentery, yellow fever, malaria and cholera plague the area and the roads are full of potholes.

As we made our way through back roads crowded with cars and children, we finally arrived at the front gate of the school where the new kitchen will be built. Our van pulled into the tight driveway and the driver blew his horn, a sign for the guards to open the gate.

Once inside, we joined Paul, Pastor Vincent – the school’s headmaster – and a local architect assigned to help with the project.

Preparing to scan

Paul provided a general idea of what he needed for the design team. The school’s campus consists of a single story school building approximately 300-feet long divided into 10 classrooms. On one side of the campus is a large church that also serves as a meeting room.

In the center of the campus is a large building that is to be demolished. It houses a kitchen that is approximately 20-feet by 25-feet. The cooking equipment consists of some large bowls and pans used for both cooking and washing the dishes. The stove is simply six propane burners. This small kitchen serves 1,400 meals a day to the students and local children.

The goal was to produce a map of the campus and get enough information on the existing school so that a second floor could be added. Paul and his design team would prepare a master plan for future development, but their top priority was building a very large and modern kitchen capable of feeding 10,000 people daily.

When we decided to go on this trip, we knew we didn’t have a lot of time, so we built our equipment for lightness and mobility. It’s not easy to get all of the survey equipment you need into to backpacks and two small carry-on bags. You have to be creative and decide what you want, but take what you need.

Among that equipment was a Focus scanner and supporting equipment along with a small level, rulers, and a miniature tripod that folded up to 23-inches but expanded to about 65-inches. Allen also brought along some very handy paper targets with numbers and lead weights to hold them and a series of globes that cost around $5 each.

We had a two-minute project meeting with the architect and then taped-up 8-10 paper targets in the main area and started scanning with the Focus. Then we taped about 60 targets around the campus on the sides of the buildings, constantly moving the globes ahead of us and using the lead targets.

Once we had completed scanning the campus and buildings, we moved on to the roof.

View from the roof!

When you’re working inside the campus gates, you forget where you are. But when you are on the roof, it all comes back. Not 15-feet away, we could see a small alley filled with families and kids. Even though they were too poor to eat, they would look up at us and smile and laugh. They were very excited to see something different.

From the roof, there is also a clear view of the “river,” which is nothing more than the local sewer system run-off covered in garbage. Hogs, goats, and cows graze alongside it.

The trip also included a trek to New Life Children’s Home, an orphanage and oasis owned by a local woman named Miriam who had once found Pastor Vincent as a very small child, almost dead from starvation. She took him in and nurtured him back to health. He ended up going to college in Tennessee and returning to Haiti to start several schools and orphanages there.

The orphanage, which houses close to 100 children, has running water, bathrooms, electricity, clean bedrooms and many of the comforts of home. The electricity is run by generators and turned off at night to save energy.

After dinner, Paul asked us to look at a few of the buildings on campus to see if they could be scanned and documented. We did a quick assessment of what could be done given their tight timeframe and decided to scan one of the bigger, more complicated buildings first thing the next morning.

When all of the scans of the buildings and school were complete, Pastor Vince took us on a tour of the impoverished surrounding area known as Destiny Village.

I took a lot of pictures and some video on my iPhone, but after a while, you feel bad documenting the poverty surrounding you and realize how little they have, need or want.

What my household throws away in a week would feed two or three families.

Headed home

After clearing customs at the airport and heading back to Miami, Allen and I went our separate ways. But the 25 hours we spent in Haiti will stay with us forever.

I’m glad we were able to use scanning technology in Haiti as there is no better, faster or more precise way to document data. But the scanning was the easy part.

The hardest part was seeing how these people live and the difference between our lives and theirs. We know we can’t save all kids displaced by earthquakes, hurricanes, and dishonest dictators and government corruption in Haiti. But if the kitchen gets built and the kids get fed, we may have helped to save a few. That was worth 25 hours in Haiti.

Tate Jones and Allen Nobles have been friends in the surveying business since 2007. Tate is the president and owner of LandAir Surveying Company, based in Roswell, Georgia. Allen is president and owner of Nobles Consulting Group, based in Tallahassee, Florida. Together, they have worked on projects all over America and generally share resources and technical expertise. To learn more, visit and

Laser Technology Makes Traditional Field Measuring of As-Builts Obsolete

Ask architects what they dislike most about their jobs and many will agree that taking field measurements ranks pretty high. 


Measuring as-built conditions takes architects out of the office and away from the work they enjoy most and what makes them money. And many times, traditional measuring methods are inaccurate and time consuming – and that’s when the environment is simple!


When there are difficult conditions, taking measurements can be next to impossible. And not to mention, inevitably, there is always something missed or the field notes don’t quite match up to the rough sketches done onsite. 


Today, there is a better answer to field measuring existing conditions in the form of laser technology.


LandAir Surveying utilizes 3D laser scanning and laser measuring technologies to provide a modern solution to the task of field measuring as-built conditions. Depending on the level of complexity, amount of detail needed, deliverables required and timeframe, we can dictate which laser technology is right for each individual project. 


The power of laser scanning

Laser scanning is the surveying technology of choice when it comes to difficult environments.  Historic buildings, exterior elevations, heavy MEP conditions and the need for very precise measurement data capture are all examples of when laser scanning technology should be used.


Laser scanning generates millions of data points to create a 3D image referred to as a “point cloud.” The point cloud can be measured and viewed in any direction, which virtually puts you back at the work site.


The point cloud is then utilized to generate AutoCAD drawings, building information models (BIM), or used as a design tool itself.


The speed of laser measuring

Our advanced laser measuring technology allows for exact measurements and real time data capture of critical data and building geometry. The use of wireless laser range finders and a remote BIM workstation reduces data collection time, increases accuracy and eliminates rework.


Models and AutoCAD files can be generated onsite and in real time, as well as quality control and field verification, which greatly reduces the amount of work required back in the office.


Here are just a few examples of how laser scanning and measuring have provided more accurate information while saving valuable time and resources in the field:


Project Case Study: Historic Hotel Renovation

A historic hotel built in the 1930’s with no existing documents and in a bad state of disrepair was scheduled to be renovated into a modern boutique hotel. 


LandAir utilized both 3D laser scanning and laser measuring technology to provide a point cloud, TruView, fly-through video and AutoCAD drawings. Laser scans were performed on the exterior of the hotel to provide elevation drawings. 


The eight-story hotel’s exterior was brick and adorned with many architectural details. The laser scan was able to capture all of the exterior data measurements and provide additional helpful details that were viewed in the point cloud including sidewalks, tree clearances and parking lot details. 


The laser scan was continued into the lobby and through the first floor of the hotel, helping tie together the laser scan information and laser measuring software. Due to the nature of the construction of the hotel, each one of the over 140 rooms had to be individually measured and floor plan documents created. 


With LandAir’s workflow design and remote BIM workstation, QA/QC was able to be done on the rooms in the field and the irregularly shaped rooms were verified on site.


Project Case Study: Big Box Retail Conversion

A grocery store and two adjacent in-line stores had gone dark and were going to be renovated to accommodate a new tenant. The option on the building was expiring and there were no existing documents to help determine if the space would work for the future tenant. 


LandAir utilized laser measuring technology to provide AutoCAD documents and a 3D model to the designer and tenant in less than two days. The proposed design and tenant requirements were compared to existing conditions and the project was able to move forward in the required timeframe.


Project Case Study: Pedestrian Bridge Addition

A pedestrian bridge was proposed to be built over an extremely busy street in a large Metropolitan downtown connecting a hotel and parking deck. No drawings were available and the proposed bridge was four stories above the street, making traditional measuring very difficult and dangerous. 


LandAir conducted a 3D laser scan of the exterior of the hotel and the existing parking deck.  The street scape conditions, power lines, traffic signals and building tie-in points were all measured accurately and safely from the laser scanner. 


AutoCAD drawings, a TruView and a video fly-through were provided for the project team. The point cloud fly-through provided a 3D visualization from any vantage point of the proposed bridge.


This helped the hotel determine how the sight views of rooms would be affected and allowed for inspectors, DOT officials and the downtown development authority to understand the impact of the proposed bridge. 


Project Case Study: Mall and Food Court Renovation

A three-story open atrium food court was to be redesigned and new tenants added to the mix. 


The existing documents were not a true representation of existing conditions as, over the years, there had been changes and alterations to the space. Additionally, the height and design of the atrium had many features that were difficult to measure.


LandAir laser scanned the atrium and surrounding spaces to provide a 3D model and clash detection for the proposed design changes. Laser measuring was also utilized to produce exact as-built documents for the surrounding spaces so that the mall owner could provide drawings for future tenants to build out their stores.


Each project has its own challenges and needs. LandAir uses the latest laser technologies to improve these projects and put an end to one of the most painstaking tasks in construction: field measuring.

Are you planning to attend ICSC RECon 2013 in Las Vegas next month? If so, e-mail me at We would love to meet you there!



Mitch Dorsett has over 15 years in the building and construction industry and serves as director of business development for LandAir Surveying. Mitch is rapidly becoming an expert in 3D data capture and virtual design and construction, having attended and represented LandAir’s laser scanning capabilities at SPAR, RTC and Autodesk University in 2012. Contact him at or visit

A Hidden Place Where Laser Scanning Provides High Value

If you think laser scanning provides a substantial amount of value for aerial and terrestrial projects, just wait until you hear about the benefits of taking it here. Click here to check out Tate’s featured blog post on

BIM: Breakfast of Champions

Whenever my travel and work schedules allow, I try to attend the BIM Breakfasts at Georgia Tech.

Held once a month on the Georgia Tech campus, the breakfast brings together some of the best and brightest minds in the Atlanta area.

The February event featured speaker James Barrett, the national director of integrated building solutions for Turner Construction. Jim specializes in virtual design and construction/Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies, lean processes, and integrated project delivery.

Put in layman’s terms, he is pushing BIM and virtual design tools to the limit. Under his leadership, Turner Construction has become one of the top BIM users in the world.

Jim does not push BIM just because it’s BIM. His idea is that his designers and contractors need to use the best tools available to help their company succeed and their clients get the best results. The BIM process and virtual design flows naturally from that core idea.

Turner also does not push one specific type of software, but instead teaches as many as 10 or 12 different packages that their best and brightest have become familiar with. As with any tool, Jim explains, no one tool will do everything.

Another point he made was this: when you roll out a new technology, don’t try to convince the world that it’s the best way to go. Instead, show it to the early adopters and let them prove that it works and that it’s the most efficient option. It will naturally make its way to other potential users.

For me, this point really hit home.

In 2005, we began using terrestrial lidar and 3D scanning technology. I have traveled to many firms in the southeast and tried to sell the benefits to the whole AEC community.

Initially, I had minimum success. It was early in the process and few of the established firms were interested at that time. However, I did find a few and slowly built a successful 3D laser scanning division that still thrives today.

These firms were the early adopters. Ironically, it was not always the young guys that were the most open to new ideas. Sometimes it was an older person who could see like I did where this technology was headed.

Now this technology is almost mainstream and is an integral part of the BIM process.

In his presentation, Jim pointed out that in New York City they have “view protection” and laser scans are used to document the view of the construction site.

In the BIM toolbox, when you identify a complicated project, laser scanning is a tool that you should certainly consider. The benefits and uses of laser scanning data are numerous and the risk of not using one and incurring additional costs down the road can be significant.

Another really good idea that Jim presented was that every year, they take a small percentage of their new hires and immerse them into what they call BIM University.

These people then become experts that the rest of the company can learn from. This gives every group in the company and geographic area internal experts that they can lean on to best implement the technologies of BIM. What a great idea!

They even started an intra-company communication site on their intranet so that users anywhere in the company can post a question. In minutes, experts throughout the company can provide insights and answers and have a forum to share their knowledge.

I believe this practice will continue to grow as companies see the value of tapping into the knowledge base they already have with their employees. What a great tool for a leader to build in their own company.

Jim’s presentation also touched on the other tools that help to automate the construction and design process like the ability to view augmented reality on iPads with the use of QR codes. At his firm, they work with public inspectors to load iPads with plans and drawings to make their process quicker and more efficient.

He also addressed the effect that 3D printing will have on the construction industry. Though it will not likely take the place of massive building material needs, it will fill a unique need when a limited number of items are needed in a quantity that can be met with industrial 3D printers, he said.

There will always be people who question whether we need BIM and virtual design and construction. I cannot completely understand why anyone in the AEC industry would still be asking this question, but I do understand that in some subsets, there is much more low-hanging fruit than in others and for these, early adoption is a no brainer.

The push for BIM and virtual design use and innovation is coming out of the construction industry as the large GC firms have pushed it further and further into their processes.

If you are in the Atlanta area and want to see and meet some of the best minds in BIM, I do recommend the Georgia Tech BIM Breakfast forum. Every time I go, I learn something.


Tate Jones has over 40 years of experience in land and aerial surveying and was one of the country’s earliest adopters of 3D laser scanning technology. A nationally recognized expert in the field of 3D data capture, he has worked with hundreds of clients in the engineering, architectural and construction industries. Contact him at or visit

Advances in 3D data capture are changing faster than ever. How can we help you in 2013?

First, let me say Happy New Year to all of our clients who have supported us for the past 25 years. We appreciate you and are honored that you choose LandAir Surveying to team with you on many interesting projects across America.

Over the past seven years of traveling down the road of 3D data capture and using multiple platforms for LiDAR data collection, we have seen this technology expand into almost every field of design, construction and manufacturing.

It has been fascinating to watch the world change from 2D plans to 3D data sets and models. And in the process, modeling is becoming cheaper, faster and easier.

Having attended international conferences and through speaking to groups across the country, we have seen and studied with interest what is going on in the U.S., Europe, Japan, India and Asia. The whole world of design and construction is making this shift!

Daily, we talk with firms both domestically and internationally about the diverse issues of 3D design and construction to equip us with the knowledge we need to be your trusted resource for new approaches to surveying projects.

For example, we have been producing surveys for the transportation industry since 1998. I can remember when we had to actually put our surveyors out in traffic (with approved safety measures, of course). Now, with our scanners, we can stay off the shoulder of the road and capture all the required data without putting anyone in harm’s way. This is standard practice now and, as an owner of a surveying company, very important to me personally.

Approaches to projects are changing not only in transportation, but across all industries.

Last year, we produced a 400-acre topographic map with 1-inch contours in very, very dense foliage. Just two years ago, we would have had to field survey this project. But by using a combination of aerial LiDAR and strategic surveying techniques, we were able to produce the job at 1/3 the cost of a traditional field run survey.

In 2013, we plan to expand our technology, using drones to capture data on specific projects. This is already being done across the country and the technology is moving from military grade and unaffordable to civilian grade and absolutely affordable.

So, how can we help you this year? For one, we can show you how surveying tools are changing and getting better. We can discuss with you when to use airborne LiDAR to document and produce data over a city, county or state.

We can show you when the conditions are right to use mobile LiDAR and put together a team to make your project successful.

We know when to use helicopter platforms for LiDAR over fixed wing aircraft, and we can show you how to model the inside of an existing building faster and more cost effectively than ever before.

We look forward to being a valuable resource for your firm and hope to continue working with you in 2013 and beyond. The design world is changing very fast and we are committed to changing right along with it.

Have a great and profitable 2013!


Tate Jones has over 40 years of experience in land and aerial surveying and was one of the country’s earliest adopters of 3D laser scanning technology. A nationally recognized expert in the field of 3D data capture, he has worked with hundreds of clients in the engineering, architectural and construction industries. Contact him at or visit


Autodesk University 2012: watching an industry grow up!

Attending and exhibiting at shows like Hexagon, Spar, and Autodesk University is always fascinating because you get to interact with clients all over the country and see what’s new in the industry.

This was our first time exhibiting at Autodesk University, but having been to three conferences in Las Vegas in one year, I was quite familiar with the surroundings. At this year’s show – which was attended by over 8,000 people from 102 countries – what I saw was an industry that has grown up and is beginning to make a real impact on design and construction.

I remember in 1986 when a new drafting program named AutoCad came out and everybody was debating if it would become the standard…it did. And it brought with it – along with the digital age and computers – the plotters and all that went with the introduction of this new paradigm.

Most of us waited to see how it would be received in the industry, but then – as now – it proved to be a very valuable tool.

And just a few years ago, we were all still discussing the advances in AutoCAD and Civil 3D.  Though we knew these programs would remain relevant, it was evident from all of the different software that interacted inside of Revit and enhanced the user experience that the world of 3D design was here to stay. (As a friend of mine said not long ago, “If you are not designing and interacting in 3D and models, you are quickly going to be obsolete.”)

Autodesk University 2012 showed us how design is being done today and where it is going in the future. One of the more interesting observations was that besides the architects, engineers and designers, there were contracting companies, retail companies and owners all talking about the new Autodesk programs that were being used in the workplace.

There was lots of talk in these groups about building “Revit families” specific to their business types, as well as discussions around how to mix the contractors (who have the knowledge about how a building is built in the actual world) with the BIM modelers so that the models are also constructible.

This will be a big challenge. Contractors and superintendents who know how to pour a slab and build 20-story buildings have knowledge and insight that is absolutely critical to building a proper BIM model.

As any techno geek, I am always very interested in the new products on the exhibition floor and the showcase included hundreds of third-party vendors developing exciting products that work alongside Autodesk.

There were lots of new software and hardware lines in the 3D laser scanning industry, as well as new software offerings for BIM models, Revit technologies and GIS products. But for me, the most intriguing products were related to 3D printing applications.

These fabrication and modeling solutions enable products to be created directly from their computer models.

Almost anything you could imagine – from cars to motors to guitars – was printed and on display. Though 3D printing has been a popular topic in recent years, it was there, it was real, and it will definitely change how items are built in America and around the world.

At the conference in Vegas, there were actual printers producing objects out of wood, metal and polymers. The only difference was whether the printer was loaded with plywood or metal.

BIM is an acronym for Build Information Models, meaning to build computer models that have built-in intelligence. What I observed was BIM in the context above – building models and objects with just the information in a computer.

My, how we have grown.


Tate Jones has over 40 years of experience in land and aerial surveying and was one of the country’s earliest adopters of 3D laser scanning technology. A nationally recognized expert in the field of 3D data capture, he has worked with hundreds of clients in the engineering, architectural and construction industries. Contact him at or visit