The U.S. supply of cold storage facilities is sparse, and despite the demands put on these facilities, most are outdated and lack efficiency. One retailer working to change this recently brought ZELUS in to conduct a floor flatness analysis and complete a site survey to better understand the existing conditions of one of its cold storage facilities in Texas.
The goal was to create a digital as-built model of the existing conditions to:
The project involved laser scanning six separate temperature-controlled areas ranging from -20 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, all housed within the 380,000-square-foot facility (Figure 1). The extreme temperatures and transitions between 70-degree ranges required our team to develop a solution that would prevent the hardware from failing.
The on-site team, which included two field technicians, completed more than 900 scans––587 of which were done in sub-freezing temperatures––in two trips. This data was used to produce a point cloud, 3D model, floor flatness map and permanent site survey control of the interior, exterior and roof (fig2).
Using RTC360 scanners and working as efficiently as possible while being diligent to give the hardware plenty of breaks from the freezing temperatures, we were able to complete the scans in approximately 120 hours while the facility was in full operation.
ZELUS delivered Recap point cloud files (Figure 3) and fully developed 3D Revit models (Figure 4), hosted on our secure cloud-based Z Vault. We also used Navisworks for clash detection and virtual flythroughs (Figure 5).
The operating temperatures within this facility provided a unique challenge that required our team to develop not only a physical solution, but also a methodology for scanning as we moved through various temperature zones. Scanning equipment doesn’t tend to tolerate extreme temperatures and as we researched possible solutions and other use cases, we kept coming up short. In nearly every use case we could find, the equipment either completely failed or didn’t operate correctly.
We were determined to make this a success. And since we were traveling out-of-state for this project, we knew we had one shot to get it right. We tested various thermal protection solutions and methodologies for scanning the facility that would limit exposure to the conditions. The result was a specialty thermal casing (Figure 6), scanning in short sprints, and building in time for the hardware to acclimate to various temperatures.
While the use of laser scanners may no longer be considered cutting-edge, the way in which we had to adapt them for use in this environment was. As mentioned, most scanners aren’t built to withstand sub-freezing temperatures, however, with the solution team ZELUS created, we were able to complete this project in a matter of days and with extremely high accuracy.
Because facilities like these are few and far between, each one is a critical asset to the company. Multiple retail locations throughout the state rely on this one facility, so shutting it down for construction would have a major impact on daily operations.
Using virtual design and construction technology will enable the design-build team to conduct virtual flythroughs to compress the construction schedule, mitigate any potential issues that could delay construction, and reduce site and travel expenses.
With the digital as-built models (Figure 7) and floor flatness analysis provided to the client, they will be able to make the modifications necessary to install an automated MHE system and perform cold storage redesign, upgrades and retrofits to make the facility more energy efficient.
Luckily, the owner of this project knew the value advanced AEC technology would bring to the table and help inform important design and construction decisions. The primary challenge was presented by the extreme conditions of the facility. Most laser scanning equipment is not built to operate in environments below 5 degrees Fahrenheit. This required our team to innovate specialty equipment to keep the scanner in proper operating temperatures. The solution we developed included thermal casings and an exhaust redirection system to prevent the scanner from freezing and reduce condensation as we moved to slightly warmer zones.
Navigating between temperature zones also presented several challenges, creating condensation buildup and the scanner mirror to fog. This required the team to allow the equipment to acclimate to each climate prior to continuing work. There is no manual for scanning in an environment like this, which meant we had to test and prepare as much as possible before arriving on site. On top of the extreme temperatures, the facility was active. We had to operate stealthily and efficiently so as not to disrupt day-to-day operations.
By solving the challenge presented by the freezing temperatures, we were able to address all of the requirements.
AECbytes content should not be reproduced on any other website, blog, print publication, or newsletter without permission.
ZELUS describes the Phase One renovation of the New Orleans Superdome, for which it provided pre-construction services. The Superdome was originally built in the 1970s and has become one of the most iconic sports stadiums in the US. It remains the largest fixed-dome structure in the world.
Tucker Cedarleaf of Cedar+Mac, who has been working with laser scanning equipment and software for over 10 years, shows how and why traditional laser scanning tied to survey control is the only method of 3D capture that produces baseline data of the quality and reliability required for AEC industry use.
Steve Salmon of Pointfuse discusses the importance of intelligent meshing technology in a much more efficient representation of point clouds, benefiting the construction as well as subsequent operation and maintenance (O&M) of buildings and infrastructure.
Mortenson, one of the top builders and developers in the US providing a complete range of construction services including planning, program management, preconstruction, general contracting, construction management and design-build, shares its perspective on AEC technology in this Firm Profile.