Where renovation of air conditioning facilities for buildings like hotels, offices, and hospitals is concerned, the work has to be done while the building is still in operation. This includes the planning and design stage, the off-site preparation of equipment and components for construction, as well as the actual removal, installation, and commissioning of the new equipment. Companies working on such projects thus face the challenge of completing these tasks within a short timeframe, within the few weeks of spring or autumn, when neither heating nor cooling is required.
Air conditioning equipment (including boiler, chiller, air handling unit, and heat exchanger) for a building is usually located in a dedicated space known as the mechanical room. “The interior of a mechanical room can get rather hot and noisy while the equipment is in operation,” said Mr. Kazutoshi Higashi, Manager, General Construction Management Division, Professional Engineer (Environmental Engineering), Hibiya Engineering, Limited (Hibiya Engineering), a building engineering services company. “In such a harsh environment, a person can only work at full concentration levels for about an hour.” Consequently, workers who were deployed to the mechanical room – to take measurements of dimensions and existing equipment required for construction drawings – needed frequent breaks in order to work effectively.
At the end of 2011, Hibiya Engineering invested in a FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D to facilitate the measurement of existing facilities. Mr. Higashi explained, “With this new device, it now takes us only an hour to measure existing facilities that are due for renovation. Measurement has also been greatly simplified!”
For Hibiya Engineering, the critical factor in choosing the FARO Focus3D was its economical price point. The device also came equipped with FARO’s point cloud data processing software, FARO SCENE. In addition, its small form and weight also made it extremely suitable for taking multiple measurements in a narrow space, requiring minimal manpower.
Engineers from Hibiya Engineering processing data collected by the FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D.
Since introducing the FARO Focus3D, Hibiya Engineering has enjoyed several improvements to the renovation process of air conditioning facilities. Using the new device, the company requires only a handful of workers to obtain high-quality measurements safely and within a short time period. Working at heights has also become a thing of the past, because Hibiya Engineering no longer has to rely on manual methods to take measurements, which would have required scaffolding for workers to access hard-to-reach areas. The FARO Focus3D eliminated such needs almost completely, making working conditions much safer for the engineers.
Point cloud data of a mechanical room. While it resembles a photograph, each point in this image is a three-dimensional (3D) coordinate. With the SCENE software, the user can obtain the exact dimensions of relevant parts.
Moreover, the device also reduced the need for any rework, saving Hibiya Engineering precious time on projects. In the past, when the team relied on hand tools and paper records, it was common for engineers to revisit a site to repeat measurements because figures did not match up at times. However, with the FARO Focus3D, engineers can ‘revisit’ the point cloud data on the computer as often as required, without having to physically return to the equipment room.
The team at Hibiya Engineering makes full use of the SCENE point cloud processing software that comes with the FARO Focus3D. To capture every detail of the mechanical room, the FARO Focus3D is placed in various positions to acquire point data of each piece of equipment, as well as any piping that may be obscured from one perspective. Multiple registration spherical targets or ‘markers’ are placed within the scan area as points of reference for the SCENE software to combine the various sets of point cloud data. Using the integration feature in the software, the engineers can then stitch multiple sets of data into one single file, resulting in a complete picture of the entire space.
“With some practice, one can single-handedly complete this task,” said Mr. Tatsuhiro Shimotanaka from the General Construction Management Division. He added, “The SCENE software is capable of recognizing markers automatically and aligning the point cloud very accurately.”
As Hibiya Engineering adopted FARO Focus3D into its workflow, Building Information Modeling (BIM) replaced traditional drawings, enabling the team to virtually design and build a 3D model of any given facility on the computer.
Using point cloud data collected by the FARO Focus3D, the engineers create a BIM model of the current set-up of the mechanical room with CADWe’ll Tfas by Daitec. Based on the 3D model, the team prepared the plan and design for the renovation accordingly.
Renovation design presented in a 3D model with BIM is easy to understand. With the walkthrough feature, the team can view the space as though renovation had been completed, even before the work begins. In fact, the BIM model allows all parties involved in the renovation (e.g. client, subcontractors) to better understand the work plan, facilitating the entire process from start to finish.
Often, mechanical rooms are filled to the brim with devices and complicated piping. It is imperative that whatever needs to be installed or replaced can fit through the building’s doorways and fit in with the existing equipment, especially for projects with tight timelines.
Mr. Mitsunori Taya, Technology Division Manager of Planning Engineering Department, shared, “This is why we use Tfas to examine the route that the team would take to bring the new equipment in. 3D simulations are performed in the software to ensure there is zero interference.”
BIM model of the current facility.
BIM model of the facility after renovation.
Previously, the team placed paper cutouts on 2D drawings to simulate moving of equipment and to perform similar checks. However, that method did not take into consideration the height of the object being moved. With 3D BIM models, vertical interference is reflected as well, resulting in more accurate checks.
While initially resistant to change, field workers have come to agree that the new method of measurement with the FARO Focus3D is easy to understand.
Checking the design with the walkthrough feature in the BIM model. Users can view the room with proposed changes reflected, even before construction commences.
As at May 2014, Hibiya Engineering has used the FARO Focus3D in 38 renovations within Japan, all the way from Hokkaido to Okinawa. The number of Hibiya engineers proficient in the usage of the device has also increased to seven.
“We used to set goals, but we are now too busy responding to requests,” noted Mr. Higashi, concurring that the FARO Focus3D is essential in the renovation projects that the company undertakes.
When asked about the development of renovation business in the future, Mr. Taya added, “For renovation projects, subcontractors like us can now bid and win them as the contractor. We have set ourselves apart from the competition with the FARO Focus3D and the BIM design process.”
In response to the increase in demand, Hibiya Engineering prepared a three-phase ‘field research support system’ for clients. With Phase One, the team provides clients with a panoramic 360° view using point cloud data and photos. In Phase Two, clients receive the point cloud data that undergirds all basis of design. Finally, with Phase Three, the team provides BIM and 3D models in Tfas (i.e. the common IFC file formats).
The company used to dispatch engineers from the headquarters whenever a request for the FARO Focus3D came in. The plan is to have at least one dedicated engineer familiar with the device in each branch, so that Hibiya Engineering can be more versatile in handling such requests in future.
Three Phases of Hibiya Engineering’s Field Research Support System.
Panoramic view created using point cloud data. A 360°view can be selected with the 2D plan on the top left corner.
On May 9, 2014, Hibiya Engineering announced its fifth “medium- term corporate plan” that covers the fiscal years 2014-2016. In that plan, the 3D scanner is incorporated in the company’s goal to “maximize a building’s life cycle through sophisticated technology”. For Hibiya Engineering, the 3D scanner is arguably not just a tool for the field, but also an essential device to accomplish its corporate strategy.
Engineers from Hibiya Engineering (from L-R): Mr. Tatsuhiro Shimotanaka, Mr. Kazutoshi Higashi, and Mr. Mitsunori Taya.
Established in 1965, the company provides engineering services to building owners – including air conditioning, water supply, drainage and sanitation, electricity, as well as information and communication technology. Hibiya Engineering provides customers with support over the life cycle of the building. This is based on its philosophy of contributing to global environmental protection, through continuous improvement of comprehensive engineering capabilities.
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