3D Scanning and Point Clouds

What is 3D Scanning?

“…a device that analyses a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance”  (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_scanner)

What is a Point Cloud?

…A point cloud is a set of data points in some coordinate system.  In a three-dimensional coordinate system, these points are usually defined by X, Y, and Z coordinates, and often are intended to represent the external surface of an object.  (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_cloud)

Why does WSDL  utilize this technology?

Do the math… 27,000,000 to 1 ratio..

The conventional method of going to site with a tape measure, pencil and paper, would allow us to obtain 1 “tie-in” point every 1 minute(basically as fast as we can pull out the tape measure, read it, and then sketch out the scenario, and write down the dimension.  Not a very efficient method of obtaining data given all of the technology that is available to us today.

The utilization of laser scan technology, has allowed WSDL to go to site and gather approximately 27 million points per minute!  But wait!, that’s not all!, as an added bonus, at the same time we are collecting the point data of all equipment, piping, valves, and structural steel, we capture  photographic images of the entire facility, already stitched together into a photo sphere, and geo-located.

Don’t want to sound like a broken record here,….. but, our philosophy and goal at WSDL has been to enter data once, and use it many times, this is one of the keys to providing efficiency to our clients.  Laser scan technology is a great example of WSDL’s philosophy in action.  WSDL was able to collect far more information than just the tie-in points, by laser scanning each site.  Information that has proven invaluable to all project team members back in the office


  1. Reference existing data to determine critical scan locations.  Use either the Plot Plan, Satellite or Drone Images, or a  3D model if it exists.
    1. 01-ifcmodel
  2. 3D Scan facility, register scans, check tolerance, and compile all scans into a single project file
    1.  02-asbuilt
  3. Photographic review via Photo Spheres, allowing user to pan and zoom 360 degrees in any direction
    1. 03-realviewphoto
  4. Measure and validate (straight from photo images that have intelligent point cloud behind them)
    1. 04-measure
  5. Bring in Point Cloud to your AutoCAD session, and snap to Point Cloud Tie-in Points
    1. 05-model


Sample Scans

While contracting to Aximus Engineering, WSDL was asked to “As-build” 6 multi-well battery sites, and 1 30MMscf/d gas plant to obtain tie-in point dimensional info.  We were expected to go to the field using the conventional method of pencil, paper, camera, and tape measure.  After providing the first scan to the project team, Aximus and their client were sold on the technology, and haven’t looked back!..

1/2 day scan Multi-Well Battery


Full Day scan 30MMscf/d gas plant





If you would like to learn more of how we can assist you in obtaining accurate information of your site assets please contact us.