Case Studies

Documenting As-Built Conditions for Food and Beverage Facility Retrofits

Documenting As-Built Conditions for Food and Beverage Facility Retrofits

For facilities constructed prior to CAD modeling, little or no documentation of what was constructed exists, or in many cases, the documentation does not accurately match the existing structure. The lack of documentation can cause delays in retrofit projects, where builders need exact dimensions of existing structures in order to understand what needs to be constructed. Traditionally, engineering and construction methods rely on the collection and assembly of information from existing drawings and manual field measurements to produce updated CAD models; however, this method can be both time-consuming and costly.

For CMDS, a Cypress, California-based company specializing in design and project/construction for food and beverage facilities, utilizing 3D laser scanning technology offers an efficient, cost-effective solution for both 2D and 3D retrofit projects. By integrating laser scanning into their workflow, CMDS has been able to provide a faster and more efficient means of collecting as-is conditions of undocumented facilities.


Prior to the implementation of laser scanning technology into their workflows, CDMS used a combination of tape measures, laser levels, transits, levels, plumb bobs, and laser range finders to collect measurement data of structures varying in size from 1,000 to 100,000 square feet. In addition to being a time-consuming and tedious process, these methods exposed projects to delays in scheduling and financial risks due to potential inaccuracies in the data.

During the process of gathering measurement data using these older manual methods, the odds of missing a critical measurement are enormous. Neglecting to collect a vital measurement can be a costly error – requiring additional time and money to return to the facility to re-capture the missing information. For example, imagine collecting data at a facility in Baldwinsville, New York and after returning to the home office in Cypress, California, the team realizes they missed a critical measurement. The additional travel and accommodation expenses could be the difference between a profit or loss for the company; or even worse, the delay could result in missing a scheduled deadline, which could lead to losing a client.


After evaluating several different competitors, CMDS determined that the FARO Laser Scanner provided the ease of use, lower cost and portability necessary for their line of work. “The portability of the unit compared to other terrestrial scanners allows us to transport or ship the unit across the country to any project site. Ease of use is also at the top of the list for best feature, because it takes less time to set up and there is no need to connect to a laptop to store the scan data,” says Vernon Jensen, president and owner of CMDS.

The laser scanner’s comprehensive data collection eliminates the need for return trips to a client facility for additional measurements, and the data collected provides a permanent record that can be used many times over in future design projects. For example, CMDS often uses the point cloud data collected using the FARO Laser Scanner in facility management projects to show the exact location of various machinery; the data helps clients to quickly identify component failures, while minimizing plant downtime.

In a recent project at a major beverage manufacturing plant, CMDS was tasked with relocating a 24 oz. can filler and packaging line to another facility. The floor plan of the original location of the 24 oz. can line was completely different than the proposed location, where a 12 oz. bottle filler and packaging line needed to be removed prior to the new system’s installation. Scanning both the bottle and can line facilities, the design team was able to determine what parts of the existing system could be used in the new design, and how to best fit the 24 oz. packaging components in the new location.

Traditional methods of measuring required that four engineers spend 5 to 10 days each documenting the facilities. By utilizing the FARO Laser Scanner, CMDS was able to save over 180 man hours, reduce the number of engineers down to two, and spend only one day each at both facilities.

Return on Investment

The FARO Laser Scanner enables CMDS to deliver on its commitment to its clients to provide high-quality, accurate 3D deliverables used to help expedite the as-built documentation process. Since implementing laser scanning into their process, the company has seen a tenfold increase in the consistency and service of their workflow.

“Outdated methods of measuring are very time consuming and as they say, ‘time is revenue (money)’. The best thing about laser scanning is that there is virtually no way to miss a measurement. Going back to a location to gather information, especially long distances can be very costly. We don’t have to do that because we capture everything the first time,” says Mr. Jensen.


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