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5 must-haves for your next MEP layout and reality capture tool

Browsing for your next laser scanner or total station can be overwhelming. Here are the top features MEP contractors want, according to a recent survey by Leica Geosystems and Construction Dive.

As an MEP contractor, you have probably worked in tight, confined and uncomfortable building spaces: sweltering boiler rooms full of hot and loud equipment; minimally conditioned rooftop penthouses; and tight closets with pipes running in every direction.

You have also likely been tasked with documenting, retrofitting and replacing old infrastructure, sizing new ducts and pipelines and installing components to exacting specifications to ensure building systems can go or return online with minimal downtime.

The last thing you want is to spend more time in these windowless spaces sketching conditions or to be called back to a job site to track down a fault detected somewhere in the system.

To help increase your productivity while minimizing the chance of mistakes and rework, you want to invest in digital layout and 3D reality capture tools, namely total stations and laser scanners. But what product features should you look for when making this considerable investment?

According to Leica Geosystems and Construction Dive’s 2023 State of MEP Contractors and Digital Construction Technology survey of 150 executives and decision-makers, here are the top five features to look for in your next MEP layout and reality capture tool purchase.

1. Minimizes User Error

Construction mistakes can cost upward of 20% of a project budget. This can translate into tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

Look for technology that reduces the potential for error within your project scope, which has a big role in the success of the comfort of building occupants and the building’s energy performance. This means you want best-in-class, reliable equipment and field apps that can advise you of their proper use, including alerting you to operational errors, such as obstructed views, moving objects and incomplete captures.

Leica Geosystems’ field apps, for example, can relay what data a laser scanner has — or has not — captured in real time, says sales engineer Manny Lujan: “If the registration isn’t working in the app, you can then capture what you have missed while you’re still on site versus taking the data back to the office, trying to puzzle it together, only to end up going back to the site.”

2. Easy to Learn and Operate

Technology is supposed to make your productivity go up, not down. In the nonstop construction cycle, you don’t have time to fiddle with equipment setup and controls, struggle to pull up a certain functionality or sit on the phone for troubleshooting.

Leica Geosystems has packaged advanced technical capabilities and a clean user interface with an intuitive product design that can start a scan or survey with the touch of one button. Furthermore, Leica Geosystems can show you the workflows to get the deliverables you want.

“You will quickly realize the return on investment because you will be able to complete your work much faster,” Lujan says.

3. Supports One-Person Operation

In today’s resource-challenged market, few construction companies have enough resources to commit multiple employees to survey or scan a site.

Leica Geosystems’ product engineers have turned technically advanced and complex machines into compact workhorses that can be transported, configured, operated and stored by one person.

By upgrading your layout and reality capture tools, you allow one person to complete a task formerly conducted by two or three, and you can invest the savings elsewhere in your company.

4. Fosters More Accurate and Precise Design

When you’re sizing pipes, ducts, bends, slopes and connectors, you and your fabricators need the highest degree of accuracy possible. This requires surveying and scanning tools that can take measurements and locate layout points within a millimeter or less. Leica Geosystems’ hardware can quickly capture complex conditions with a level of detail and accuracy that is impossible to capture manually or with most other scanners.

On the downstream side, Leica Geosystems’ software for MEP contractors can automatically identify pipes and pipe runs in your laser scans, saving you time in data processing and design.

“Once all the information from our hardware reaches our software, that’s where the magic happens in terms of workflow efficiency,” Lujan says. “The combination of clean, accurate data and automated, intuitive workflows gives you a significant advantage when you need to work quickly and avoid rework.”

5. Backed By Reliable and Fast Technical Support

Layout and reality capture technologies represent a significant investment, and you should feel supported along your purchasing journey and beyond.

As your capabilities grow and you take on more complex jobs, you may encounter new challenges that require expert guidance and instruction. Or something unexpected or out of your control might happen to your hardware or software, such as a dropped tool or computer crash.

In any case, you need immediate expert help to stay on schedule. With Leica Geosystems customer support team, you have multiple options, including live telephone support, email messaging and even experts ready to remote into your device.

And while you can choose to purchase and use technology “out of the box,” you also have access to a team of construction industry experts who can serve as valuable partners as you evolve your workflows.

Identifying the right layout and reality capture tools to purchase takes research and time. Now that you know the five most common features MEP contractors seek from their tools, you can move forward on your decisions confidently.

To discuss your needs with a building construction specialist, contact us.

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