By Hexagon | Leica Geosystems

HomeOpinionBuilding ConstructionHow Reality Capture Technology Helps Solve Construction Labor Shortages


How Reality Capture Technology Helps Solve Construction Labor Shortages

The pace of retirement represents an experience base that will be hard to backfill, but reality capture technology can help in a variety of ways.

For all that’s said and written about the value of reality capture in documenting construction progress and quality control, one key facet of the technology is frequently overlooked.

Reality capture technology — notably laser scanning and photogrammetry — now plays an increasingly significant role in helping the industry navigate a longstanding challenge: labor shortages.

Today one in five construction workers is aged 55 or older, and 45% of the workforce is 45 or older. The pace of retirement represents an experience base that will be hard to backfill. The hiring side isn’t much rosier. Industry recruiting must overcome often unfair and negative perceptions of construction careers, which can hamper young people from weighing a career in the industry.

Addressing a systemic labor shortage requires a broad, multifaceted plan with staying power. Meanwhile, today’s constrained talent pool is forcing some contractors to turn down projects due to staffing challenges.

Reality capture technology can help fill labor gaps in a variety of ways, especially by dramatically reducing a $31.3 billion bogey caused chiefly by poor project data and miscommunication, according to a recent McKinsey study. The culprit? Project rework.

Less Rework Risk

“Rework forces every project manager to constantly mitigate risk,” explains Cathi Hayes, Vice President of Go-to-Market for Hexagon Building Solutions – Integrated. “Risk reduction is how every project manager thinks. It’s a known unknown hanging over every project. About the only question is what and when rework disrupts workflow, scheduling and budget.”

Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball to allow superintendents and foremen to predict costly rework and change orders. But the one-two punch of laser scanning and photogrammetry may be the next best thing, allowing labor-challenged project chiefs to keep their team’s eyes on the prize and not risk being blindsided by breakdowns in work process, human error, materials/equipment, technical factors or any of a myriad of other causes.

“It’s really an art,” Hayes continues. “The task is to understand risk areas and catch things early. Time- and staff-consuming site walks and other old school detection techniques only offer limited insight and value.”

Key Questions Answered

Enter reality capture technology. Photogrammetry creates a visual record that chronicles project progress and identifies safety issues. The beauty is that seamlessly stitching together camera-generated visuals using digital technology creates an inspection platform project officials can access remotely anytime, anywhere. “Are we on track?” “What’s the hold up?” “Is the worksite safe?” Now those questions and many more can be confidently automated and answered to the satisfaction of general contractors (GCs), owners and project consultants.

Laser scanning handles the flip side of project development by precisely documenting as-built conditions. “Are we compliant with the model?” “Where are the deviations?” “How will a MEP installation error impact downstream trades?” Again, the fog of uncertainty is lifted thanks to point cloud capture and automated analysis. Net: Less project risk from rework and having to direct valuable talent away from progressive activities.

Less Guesswork, More Progress

Some may say that’s all well and good, but what if it’s not a building information modeling (BIM) job? Hayes says the same preventative measures apply to 2D drawings as well. “Really the only way to get future insight into multi-trade potential change orders is through progressive, consistent scanning,” the 12-year Leica Geosystems veteran observes.

“With reality capture, I can look into the future and see how all the other trades will be impacted by what I can’t eyeball on the job site. There’s a lot of guesswork with old school construction. You don’t want a situation where you’re tying up five trades on a change order because you failed to rapidly identify deviations. Reality capture technology means less rework risk, faster delivery and ultimately fatter margins.”

The question almost becomes, ‘So why wouldn’t you do it?’ The truth is, reality capture technology applications are already an imperative for many architects, engineers, GCs and specialty contractors. For others, technology cost and staffing slow the transition to improved construction speed, quality and productivity.

Proven Middle Way

Hayes understands the dilemma. “Change is hard, margins are thin and risk is always present. You don’t want variables. You want predictability. Should you stick to the status quo and accept the risks that go with it? Or invest in unfamiliar technology that plainly reduces risk but requires a substantial capital commitment?”

Hayes suggests project leaders consider a middle way: one that delivers project insight, sidesteps big upfront dollars and keeps a thinly stretched workforce focused on delivery, not rework surprises. “Hexagon Building Solutions expands your internal resources with reality capture muscle and analysis on a convenient on-demand basis. It’s a quadruple win: You gain expert project insight, reduce risk, spare your team rework distractions and deliver a timely, quality outcome to your owner.”

Today’s tight labor market requires every advantage to meet owners’ schedule and dollar expectations. Connect with our experts to learn how Leica Geosystems and Hexagon can help you support your team with top quality reality capture insight that doesn’t impede workflow or budget.

Most Read



Video: U.S. Heavy Civil Contractors Are Changing Their Construction Technology Brand Preference to Leica Geosystems. Here’s What’s Driving the Transition.

In the realm of construction, where the precision of every measurement and the safety of every worker are paramount, technology matters more than ever....

3 Reasons to Laser Scan in the Pre-Bid Process

If you collaborate with architecture firms and owners on feasibility studies, design-build projects, and integrated project delivery contracts, you can use 3D reality capture...

Is It Time for MEP Contractors to Shelve the Laser Level? Not Yet—And Here’s Why

With just a few days of training on a robotic total station or laser scanner, an MEP contractor can start blazing through site layout...
WordPress Lightbox