In the Media
August 30, 2022

How reality capture tech helped Columbia align 60,000 feet of pipe

Matthew Thibault, Associate Editor at Construction Dive recently wrote an article about a case study Avvir did with our customer, Columbia. In this particular project, the Avvir platform let the Massachusetts contractor save three days of inspection, analysis and reporting a week. You can find the original article here.

Avvir and Columbia Construction

Jennifer Wooles, the Director of Virtual Planning and Construction Group at North Reading, Massachusetts-based Columbia Construction, had her work cut out for her.

Ahead of her was a life sciences project that called for 60,000 feet of linear process piping – over 11 miles worth – that had to be installed on a quick time frame. The renovation of the 60,000-square-foot 1980s facility that would be used for vaccine production presented a thorny issue that made it incredibly difficult: The piping was complex, and the Boston-area facility required intense specialization.

A generation comprised of data and plans captured by blueprints and LiDAR scans.
Avvir’s program captures as-built data to compare reality with a job’s original plan. Permission granted by Avvir

Photo: Avvir’s program captures as-built data to compare reality with a job’s original plan.

Jennifer Wooles, the director of the virtual planning and construction group at North Reading, Massachusetts-based Columbia Construction, had her work cut out for her. Ahead of her was a life sciences project that called for 60,000 feet of linear process piping – over 11 miles worth – that had to be installed on a quick time frame. The renovation of the 60,000-square-foot 1980s facility that would be used for vaccine production presented a thorny issue that made it incredibly difficult: The piping was complex, and the Boston-area facility required intense specialization.

In addition, the site included three different processing labs with mezzanines due to all the equipment. Wooles said that because everything was so complex and specialized with the project, there were issues with using traditional methods.

“2D drawings just weren’t cutting it,” Wooles said.

She turned to as-built, reality capture technology from New York City-based Avvir to help with the layering of the piping, starting work with the company in September 2021 and ending in May 2022. The firm’s software, Wooles said, took a heavy burden off of her shoulders.

Once a week, the team would go through the building with a LiDAR scanner, which uses lasers to gather spatial information about a given area. The scans would be sent to Avvir, and then the team and stakeholders would be able to view the finished product —  a combination of the customer-provided models and reality-captured data. The program is capable of viewing the LiDAR scans and the plans together, and can compare the as-built version to the planned version of the build.

Pipes in 3D

Avvir, which bills itself as offering “BIM-focused reality analysis,” counts other contractors such as Skanska, AECOM and DPR as its clients. Wooles’ team used the software to check their build and, particularly, the placement of the pipes. The software can be accurate up to lengths of ⅛ inch, and can tell if the layout of a pipe deviates from the plans in the way it’s installed.

A computer generated image demonstrating how the installation of pipes is going, with several options for pipes out of place.
Avvir’s software can detect how far off a pipe’s placement is from plans.

Columbia also used the software on a second project in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wooles said that the data helped foster a collaborative environment between the second project’s involved owner and the Columbia team.

“Being able to grab and pull the chart up and show them in the model that, ‘Hey, this is the piping that still has to [be installed],’ that was a huge benefit,” Wooles said.

If you'd like to read the Columbia case study and learn more about how they saved 3 days a week on this project, you can download that here.

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