Cross icon
How to integrate point clouds into Cloud solutions?
The news

How to integrate point clouds into Cloud solutions?

Published on
Estimated time
5 minutes
How to integrate point clouds into Cloud solutions?

Every industry is moving to the cloud. The cloud brings flexibility, remote access, dynamic storage scalability and on-demand access to computing power. Why haven't surveyors made the jump yet?

The first obstacle to bringing surveying to the cloud is the technology required. Reality Capture methods are tricky, requiring advanced algorithms to process large data streams without the risk of error. Manual cross-checks are often required and manual steps are needed for each scan.

Without automation and the ability to perform tasks simultaneously, the effective power of the cloud is limited. Without stable connections, the amount of regularly captured 3D data places a high demand on network bandwidth.

With impending 5G and advanced 4G offering access speeds regularly reaching 300 Mbps, bandwidth issues become more manageable and download times more realistic. But investing in access and new technologies requires a greater promise of improvement than simply making remote downloads to applications that work the traditional way.

The 3D laser scanning technology market is where some of the most exciting advances are happening. In this article, we'll explore the importance of cloud solutions and the basic steps to becoming THE BIM service provider of the 21st century.

Step 1: Know the cloud solutions available to you and share them with your teams

Modern surveying is a balance between speed of execution, efficiency and quality. It's all about getting the right deliverable to the customer in the most cost-effective way. New technologies offer new opportunities. These include diversifying your business into new areas such as BIM, as well as the ability to bid on new markets, such as supporting prefabricated manufacturing.

With so many opportunities for growth, you need to be aware of your areas of focus and projects, you need to be sure of what you can do and what you can't. Are you simply looking for growth? Do you want to exploit potential hardware savings and processing speed? Do you want to address new and potentially more lucrative areas? The key is to make sure your goals are understood by everyone and that they are achievable.

Greater flexibility

Today, you need to know how to mobilize significant resources when projects are numerous while knowing when to reduce those mobilized resources when those projects diminish. A cloud approach makes this easier because your 3D surveys will no longer need specific physical servers, positioned in specific locations, available at specific times to run.

With cloud services, you can create and then release processing and storage environments as needed, which means you can still get the most out of your core hardware and use the flexibility of the cloud to do more, experiment, prototype, and mobilize more for very large projects.

Faster deployments

Cloud computing will have a major impact on the way surveyors do their work. By being able to access a Cloud system and data store, scans can be saved, downloaded and aligned directly from the construction site. Uploading multiple scans simultaneously is much faster than gathering everything into one huge project file in the office, then trying to upload or share it. Similarly, clients and stakeholders can access the same data via a cloud portal rather than writing a paper report to be distributed to them.

Once your pre-processed data is in the cloud, any additional processing can also be undertaken thanks to the massive parallel processing power. Your point cloud recording performance can increase dramatically, especially if your recording software can take full advantage of multi-threaded parallel processing (see step 2).

When taking on new projects, creating - and eliminating - project-specific compute and storage resources is a much faster process, allowing your project team to work faster. You can now start creating a range of environments (production, development, test) with very high specifications to organize implementations and try new approaches.

Doing more with less

With fewer servers to maintain and with a range of storage options at your disposal, you'll find that you can spend less time worrying about hardware, servers, and storage upgrades and more time doing real topology work. Many companies estimate that they can reduce their maintenance time by up to 50% on their existing hardware by moving to the cloud. This increased productivity means you can finish projects faster and get on even more projects.

Opting for a cloud solution can also save you money on the cost of your hardware upgrades. To take an example, right now for Scene version 7.0, Faro recommends 8 cores, 64GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD plus an NVIDIA 1080GTX graphics card for rendering and visualizing a point cloud - a typical cost of about €10,000 per workstation. For version 5.5 in 2015, the recommended configuration was a Quad x64 processor and 8GB of RAM. Rapidly changing hardware requirements and increasing data volumes mean that you must either future-proof your hardware investments or risk running out of hardware resources and not upgrading your equipment.

No items found.

Step 2: Invest in the right cloud-compatible recording software

To get the most out of the real power of cloud services, you're not just going to store files and data in the cloud. You'll need cloud-enabled recording software, software that can process your data automatically and generate good results without the need for desktop software or human intervention.

Point clouds and laser scanners are not "new" - they have existed in commercial forms since the late 1990s. What is changing is the processing technology. The slowest aspect of creating a point cloud has always been "registration." This is the process of assembling the many scans needed to obtain the complete point cloud of an environment. Traditional registration software required extensive manual review throughout a slow process that increased the time required to produce any point cloud. With cloud-enabled software, we now envision a robust registration process designed from the ground up to work in the cloud for faster, more detailed results.

Step 3: Make sure your network is up to the task

Processing in the cloud can take place in the field or in the office. So the network plays a crucial role regardless of where the application is hosted. It is essential that the network connections you have in the office are good enough to avoid any bottlenecks in data transmission. You should also look at various routing and failover if you haven't already done so.

Your mobile connections will also become crucial with the impending switch to 5G. Evaluate your mobile provider and make sure you know their network coverage, speeds and data plans. Also make sure you invest in field equipment that is up to the task. Increasingly, this type of work can be done using tablets rather than laptops. It's also important to look at the cloud solution provider the software partners with - the reliability of a big name like AWS or Microsoft Azure is often a good place to start.

Step 4: Update your processes to match

As mentioned earlier, technology is never a solution - it is a tool. If you really want to make an impact on your performance as a surveyor, you also need to look at how the work is delivered: your workflows.

You should look to make some or all of the following changes:

  • Perform a rough field recording
  • Immediately resend the scans recorded from the site
  • Collaborate remotely using portals and visualization
  • Share files securely with your customers via the cloud
  • Integrate BIM into your workflow
  • Understand what "room for maneuver" these changes offer you to capture new markets or respond to more business

Step 5: Experience

The impact of combining new types of recording software and automation software with the power of cloud computing is enormous. The simultaneous recording of very large data sets in the field - with little or no overtime - opens up many new avenues for your company.

The Cloud is something new and revolutionary for many surveyors and their companies, and because it is so new, it is understandable that the requirements and understanding exactly how they want to use the Cloud will be difficult to manage.

Technology is constantly evolving. The cloud offers great flexibility and enables new ways to collaborate effectively, so it's time for you to get the basics, choose the cloud solution that's best for your business, and then start experimenting.

No items found.