The Leica Geosystems BLK360 Imaging Laser Scanner is filling a niche surveyors didn’t know existed. They’re saying it’s not until they have one that they realise how much they needed one.
The BLK360 Imaging Laser Scanner caused a sensation when unveiled in Las Vegas in November 2016. Leica had paired the BLK360 with Autodesk’s ReCap Pro software and the instrument was being promoted as a reality capture solution that was precise, accessible, portable and low-cost.
Since then, take-up of the BLK360 has been growing steadily and it’s already found its way onto equipment shelves in quite a number of survey offices around Australia. But the BLK360 is more than filling a niche; it’s creating its own niche.
Survey firm Realserve Pty Ltd was one of the first Australian customers for a BLK360, purchasing it outright from CR Kennedy, the national distributor for Leica Geosystems products across Australia. Realserve’s recent purchase of a third BLK360 demonstrates how important they see it to their business growth.
Realserve has offices across Australia and New Zealand, and its survey work is diverse. Much of it relates to retail, commercial and industrial property – supplying surveys of existing building conditions to architects for upcoming refurbishments and to real estate agents for sales and leasing campaigns.
The BLK360 is strikingly small, light, inexpensive and user-friendly. Packed into its black aluminum casing is a class 1 laser scanner scanning 360,000 points per second and capturing 15MP imagery. The unit uses its own Wi-Fi hotspot to stream both full-colour panoramic images and point cloud information to an iPad Pro using Recap Mobile. Point cloud information is further registered on a desktop using the Recap Pro software suite.
We spoke to Realserve’s James Sawell, the company’s Business Development Manager (Aust/NZ). He explained why they were excited by the BLK360. ‘At Realserve we have a tagline “Start Confident”’, Sawell said. ‘That’s how we want our clients to feel about their projects from the very beginning.
‘Often clients only learn the full extent of their spatial data requirements as their project develops, and we could see that clients could get on and make decisions earlier and with confidence if they had all the information they might need right at startup’, he said.
Point cloud data acquisition looked to offer the solution. And it does.
Sawell sees the BLK360 as a “companion” to his company’s other surveying instruments and scanners. On a recent project, a client could see the potential to reuse some of the existing structural steel and reduce wastage. Realserve put the BLK360 to work in conjunction with one of their professional series scanners. With the BLK360 set up at 5m intervals they were able to collect fine detail around repetitive structural framework. The steelwork was scanned on a medium setting and produced “fit for purpose” accuracy so the 3D model could include the sizes and types of steel beams. This level of detail was critical to the consultant team in making informed decisions.
Realserve staff highlighted the benefits the BLK360 and ReCap Pro pairing offers for validating data onsite – scans can be aligned and then viewed, and data can be visualised in real
time to confirm it isn’t corrupted and that coverage is adequate. After acquisition, the point cloud data is registered and cleaned up in ReCap Pro, then exported in a format suitable for Autodesk’s Revit software (their clients’ 3D building information modelling software).
Beyond the obvious benefits offered by the Leica/Autodesk solution, James Sawell mentioned another benefit that potential BLK360 customers might not have fully considered – the relatively small size of digital files. Sawell pointed out that files from traditional point cloud surveys can be quite cumbersome, but with the pairing of the BLK360 with ReCap Pro, files can be exported into CAD/BIM programs much more easily.
The BLK360 isn’t designed to compete directly with high definition scanning products, but it might fill a niche you never knew existed.
Information provided by CR Kennedy. For more information about the Leica BLK360, visit http://building.crkennedy.com.au