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Taking Construction to New Heights

At a glance
The challenge

3D-laser scanning, although useful for building companies, is in its infancy

The solution

Refine and further develop tool

The outcome

An integrated 3D laser scanning system that develops digital models of buildings

What's next?

Implement new system across company sites

Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Migara Liyanage put his robotics expertise to work developing a 3D-laser scanning system for construction projects with ND Dobbin, an architecture and construction firm. Laser scanning systems of this type typically cost upwards of $150,000 but Migara’s solution could save the firm countless hours and thousands of dollars preventing errors that can come up as a result of conventional site surveying methods.

“Our company is always looking for new ways to take advantage of the latest innovations in civil and structural engineering. Partnering with Migara through Mitacs Accelerate provided tremendous value by helping us to find and develop the right technology for our needs so that we are confident in the progress and integrity of our projects,” said Brad Dobbin, Vice President of ND Dobbin Group of Companies.

In recent years, firms like ND Dobbin have quickly adopted 3D-laser scanning and printing as a tool for precise modelling of new buildings and mega projects in a way that conventional surveying and blueprint software could not do before. Though similar systems already exist, the technology is still in its infancy and is in need of further development. Through a connection made by Migara’s PhD supervisor Dr. Nicholas Krouglicof, ND Dobbin partnered with Mitacs on a $30,000 grant to hire Migara from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science in order to develop a laser scanning system that would suit their specific needs. Mitacs Business Development Director Niraj Shukla was on hand to settle the details of this exciting project, which could revolutionize site surveying and modelling for mega construction projects such as offshore oil rigs.

Under Dr. Krouglicof’s supervision, Migara developed an integrated 3D-laser scanning system that takes millions of scanned data points from construction mega-projects and turns them into comprehensive digital models of the buildings to provide crucial spatial information about the build as it’s happening.  Architects and engineers can then be sure that the build is taking place according to plan and can discover mistakes before they’re made. Ultimately, this could save ND Dobbin thousands of dollars over traditional surveying practices, in addition to saving large amounts of time. These models can also be used to develop virtual tour software or 3D-printed models to present to current or potential clients for marketing and sales.

Migara is now looking forward to a post-doctoral fellowship with the company where he will implement his 3D scanning system at active sites for ND Dobbin. This experience will benefit him in the coming years when he is working as a professional engineer.

“My Mitacs Accelerate internship gave me a valuable opportunity to directly use my academic knowledge to benefit industry and solve the problems they’re facing,” said Migara.

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador for their support of Mitacs Accelerate in the province.