New approach to BIM – Point Cloud as 3D Model

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is commonly understood as a shared 3D model of a structure, enriched with metadata, like material information. Other dimensions such as time (scheduling), cost or different levels of operational processes can also be added to BIM, making it not only a construction phase tool, but an important database for the structure’s entire life cycle.

BIM is usually created in the construction planning phase, with multiple BIM software options available for generating models. But what if we want to utilize BIM in later phases of the building’s life cycle and there are no models to use? In these cases, the structure is most likely to be digitized by scanning it with sonar or laser scanner to form a point cloud. These point clouds have been traditionally used for modeling solid 3D reference models and then CAD models, requiring a lot of work before they can really be used. Could the point cloud itself be the 3D model?


Point cloud as BIM

When modeling the point cloud, we lose information as the geometry of a structure is simplified. Considering this fact, does the modeling actually add any value to the point cloud? Likely not. Utilizing the processed and visualized point cloud as a Building Information Model, points in the cloud are grouped into point cloud entities according to the building component and attributes can be input straight to the 3D point cloud entities. The point cloud has X, Y and Z coordinates, is in 3D form, can be divided as objects, and is enriched with attribute information. Pretty much covers the definitions for BIM, doesn’t it?


Smart and interactive asset management

What about sharing the model or remaining BIM dimensions? The interactive use and sharing of 3D data is inherent to BIM and separates it from simple 3D models. When the point cloud is easily accessible, utilizing its data throughout the life cycle is more likely. This is where online technologies come into the picture.

User-friendly UI and access to the data through a web browser enable all shareholders to utilize the data in different operations of asset management. Data accretion can be done by the daily users, not just surveyors, planners or administrators. The same data can be used online—without any additional software installations—when making CAD drawings, calculating repair budgets, or even guiding the maintenance crew to the correct location to do their tasks. We have come a long way from simple 3D models.

GISGRO is an online platform for visualizing, sharing, and utilizing 3D asset survey data. For more information, book a free online demo with GISGRO Specialist.

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