A wide range of engineering services

Engineering ServicesHere at McNeil Engineering, we provide comprehensive design services that include civil engineering, structural engineering, land surveying, high-definition scanning (HDS), landscape architecture and consulting services to the private and public sectors. We also offer consulting services for cities, urban designers, urban planners, and others in the Utah construction market. With so much on offer, we figured now would be a good time to go into greater detail regarding our services and what they entail.

Civil Engineering in Utah and other states

Let’s start with the core of what we do. We are civil engineers first and foremost. But what exactly is it that civil engineers do? Well, in short, civil engineers work closely with others in the construction industry, from architects to contractors, to ensure construction projects progress as they should. Many of their tasks include site surveying ground condition tests, inventory, and materials and equipment maintenance and support. Civil engineers are also responsible for coming up with solutions that take the weather and other geologic factors into account.

Structural Engineering for Long-Lasting Projects

Structural engineering of the type we do fits specifically into the wheelhouse of civil engineering. Structural engineering in this context focuses mainly on the framework of a structure. Engineers design the structures to ensure they can withstand whatever stresses or pressures they may encounter in their environment. The key for structural engineers on projects like ours is to ensure that the buildings and structures we work on remain safe, reliable, and secure at all times.

Land Surveying Where You Need It

Another big part of what we do is land surveying. It’s a critical part of any construction project. There are different types of land surveying, but civil engineers utilize this technique in specific ways. Surveying in civil engineering represents the collection and analysis of specific data regarding the land under survey. Specific measurements of the horizontal and vertical lengths between points will also be recorded. Details will be documented regarding specific aspects of the land, such as size, shape, formation, and soil. Quality and accurate land surveys can set the foundation for a successful project.

Landscape Architecture for Beautiful Grounds

Another important aspect of what we do includes landscape architecture. Put simply, landscape architecture is described as designing specific outdoor spaces that integrate well within an overall project. In our case, we design large landscape architecture projects, such as those for green spaces, a town square, municipal playground, and so much more. Keep in mind there are significant differences between landscape architecture and landscape design. Landscape architects have a degree and they generally work on larger public works projects, whereas a landscape designer often works on residential and smaller-scale projects. Landscape architects are experts in their field.

Consultation Services for Companies Who Need an Expert

We also provide a wide range of consulting services to companies that require a committed and knowledgeable professional to help them with their engineering needs. These are often companies that do not have the in-house expertise they need to get the job done successfully. Our consulting civil engineers advise our clients on the design, development, and construction of projects of all shapes and sizes. We pride ourselves on offering consulting services that ensure safe, efficient, and fully resourced project completion. When you need a consultant you can count on McNeil Engineering.

Other Services We Offer

Now that you’ve learned more about the human aspect of our resources, take a few minutes to learn about some of the other services we offer. We provide a wide range of engineering, surveying, and consulting services. But these services would not be nearly as effective were not for our technologies. We use the latest technologies suitable for engineering projects.

One such example is laser scanning. 3D laser scanning has become an industry norm. Advancements in hardware, software, and workflows have made laser scanning a viable option for projects of all sizes. Laser scanning allows our surveyors to collect tremendous amounts of precise data at high speeds. We use the most advanced, high-definition laser scanners, total stations, and modeling and point cloud software to provide comprehensive, record surveys, 3D CAD models and detailed 2D isometric drawings.

We also have extensive expertise in BIM 3D modeling. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is essentially a technological solution that allows engineers to view a digital representation of a building as well as specific characteristics of its functionality. BIM is a model-based process that provides insight to help you plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

And guess what? That’s not all. If you need consulting services for roofing, paving, and even construction administration, we have the people and experience you need to ensure the job gets done right the first time, every time. We invite you to take a moment to peruse the various projects we have completed in Utah and around the country. Let’s work together!

3 buildings preserved in time by laser scanning

Laser ScanLaser scanning is a process that is becoming more widespread every day. Eventually, it will be used for so many aspects of our lives it will be like the camera, and we’ll wonder what we ever did without it. As laser scanning becomes more accessible, more uses for it are being discovered. Of course, laser scanning is an incredible tool for land and building surveying, but it has so many more amazing uses.

One of our favorite uses for laser surveying is historical preservation. So much artistic and creative expression goes into the architecture of buildings. So often, every aspect of a building tells a story, and each day that passes that story changes. The structure of a building speaks to the time it was built and the people who worked on it, and every crack, erosion, or vine of ivy that nestles into the building tells the story of the people who have been there, and the way the world has changed around it. Not only are these details interesting, they’re also important to notice so that we can understand our history better. That’s where laser scanning comes in. Laser scanning creates a three dimensional digital replica of a building in detail as it is in a precise moment in time, so that we can know what it looked like at that point for years to come. Lots of historical buildings are going through the process of being laser scanned, and we’d like to share a couple today!

1. Belsay Castle

This Medieval Greek revival castle in England was built in 1370 to serve as a home for a wealthy English family at the time, but has since served as a home to many different families and facilities. There have been many changes made to this building in its nearly 700 years of existence including quite a few add-ons and demolitions. Amazingly, most of what still stands of Belsay is its original three story story structure.

When it comes to understanding how people in history lived, it can be difficult to truly imagine them as real people until you step into their world, and stepping in to where they would have truly lived out their every day lives is one of the best ways to do that. Belsay castle is an incredible look into what everyday medieval life might have been like for the non-royal wealthy. Belsay castle has been laser scanned recently so that in another 700 no matter what’s left of Belsay, we can still learn from what it looks like now.

2. Canterbury Cathedral

Another amazing historical addition to the buildings that have been laser scanned is Canterbury Cathedral. Canterbury Cathedral serves as a breathtaking example of why it’s important to learn from what buildings look like right as they are in this time period, to the accuracy of laser scanning, because of its incredibly unique erosion. In case any of you were asleep in high school English during the reading of Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” the Canterbury Cathedral was a wildly popular destination for religious pilgrimages during the 14th century.

People from all over Europe would journey to the cathedral to pray next to the tomb of St. Thomas Beckett. For most modern people (Americans, especially, because our country is still quite young) to imagine this as anything other than a story until they see Canterbury Cathedral. Next to the famous tomb of St. Thomas Becket, there are two distinct, deep pockets of erosion in the stone floor where millions of knees have knelt in prayer. a Photo doesn’t quite do them justice, but recently, the building has been laser scanned, and a 3D model created. Because of laser scanning, even if someone never gets to make the pilgrimage to see Canterbury Cathedral, they can still understand its historical magnitude.

3. The Barrister Building

The last building we’ll talk about is one that is far more modern, and quite meaningful to us at McNeil, the Barrister Building in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The Barrister Building, formerly the Jefferson Hotel, was built in 1915, and if you’re a fan of classic films, you’ll probably recognize it. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, “Psycho,” contains some of the most famous and highly regarded sequences in film history. This, of course, includes the shower sequence that made strings the permanent instrument of choice when it comes to striking fear. This also includes the opening sequence, where an aerial shot of Phoenix brings the viewer right up close and personal to the Jefferson Hotel and in through a window, bringing the viewer into the intimate personal lives of the characters. Here at McNeil, we were lucky enough to have been commissioned to do the historical laser scan of the historic Barrister Building before its renovation after it was purchased in 2016. You can learn more about our work on the Barrister building here.

Three unexpected uses for laser scanning

Laser ScanningAt McNeil Engineering, we offer a wide selection of services, including laser scanning and building information modeling. This is a process by which our experts use lasers to capture accurate data from buildings, structures, masses of land and all other sorts of things and create an exact digital 3D model. This model can then be used to help plan projects, investigate structures, or just to preserve the image of whatever was scanned for future reference. We offer laser scanning services for any project one could think of that would benefit from it, some of which might be unexpected to those uninformed. If that’s the case for you, and you’re interested in learning more, here are 3 unexpected uses for laser scanning.

1. Forensic/insurance investigation

When an incident happens, sometimes it can be difficult for even the most skilled crime-scene photographer or police officer to accurately depict what the scene looks like. There’s an incredible amount of human error involved in crime scene data collection, especially when the scene is chaotic. This is understandable, but also unacceptable as it can often lead to mixed information given to the public or a jury if a jury is involved.

Let’s use a house fire as an example. If a house is burning down, after firefighters gain control and put out the flames, the scene can be incredibly dangerous for everyone involved. Generally, at some point, firefighters, police officers and/or insurance investigators have to re-enter the wreckage of the house and try to figure out how the fire was started to know how to accurately handle the situation. If this investigation happens even one day after the fire, environmental factors can severely change the scene. However, with laser scanning involved, after the fire is controlled, a laser scanning team can come in and scan the building from a safe distance and create an accurate 3D model of the building directly after the incident, which can then be studied by experts without worry that it will be changed by environmental factors or vandalized.

Laser scanning can be helpful in all sorts of investigations whether it be a car crash or a traditional crime scene. Having an accurate scan of the environment exactly as it was during or after an incident that you are then able to look back on and study is incredibly useful.

2. Historic documentation and preservation

In the previous example, we mentioned how 3D scans of a burnt building can help investigate the fire, but it’s also important to note that a pre-existing laser scan of a building can be an incredible asset in historical documentation of buildings, landmasses and other structures. Even the most famous and seemingly untouchable historical sites are still vulnerable to catastrophe. One of the best examples of this was the fire that broke out at Notre Dame in Paris, France on April 15th, 2019. As devastating as this fire was for Paris, and for the world watching, it was also just strange to experience what is sure to be a famous historical event in real-time. Notre Dame was hundreds of years old when its roof burnt and collapsed in 2019, so of course, losing it was tremendously sad, and of course, there are thousands of photos, drawings, and paintings of it, but those types of documentation are also incredibly vulnerable to catastrophe.

Luckily, in 2010 an art and architecture historian named Andrew Tallon took laser scans of the building, meaning we will forever have an exact imprint of what Notre Dame looked like less than a decade before the fire. If Notre Dame is rebuilt, these laser scans can also be used to rebuild it as accurately as possible. But even if Notre Dame is never rebuilt, it’s incredibly special that we have a 3D model of that roof that had been up since the 1200s. McNeil has taken on quite a few laser scanning projects for the sole purpose of historic preservation, one of them being the Masonic Temple in Salt Lake City!

3. Project planning

So far, we’ve talked about using laser scanning technology on existing buildings, but laser scanning can also be incredibly useful in the planning of a structure. Laser scanning can be used on the area where a structure is to be built and the project planners can then have an exact 3D model of the topography of the land. This model can then be used as a base to plan construction on before any ground is broken.

Laser scanning is an incredibly useful service that we at McNeil are so proud to be able to provide our clients. Our experts are equipped to handle any situation where laser scanning can be beneficial, including situations we’ve listed here and many more. If you or your business are interested in learning more about McNeil’s laser scanning services, please visit our website.

If you have a laser scanning project in mind that doesn’t fit in the categories on the webpage listed above, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@mcneileng.com or by phone at 888.303.7700.

A brief history of land surveying tools

land surveying toolsSurveying has been an essential service to mankind for all of recorded human history. Before one can start any project, buy a plot of land, or even see a plot of land on a map, it must first be surveyed. Because of this, land surveying is believed to be one of the oldest and most important professions in the world. At McNeil, we’re proud to employ the latest in land surveying technology, specializing in 3D laser scanning, which uses a laser to collect tremendous amounts of accurate, dependable data in a short period of time.

This technology has revolutionized the surveying business and is rapidly becoming the standard practice in surveying, making it a viable and cost-effective choice for more and more projects every day. However, as previously mentioned, land surveying is one of the oldest professions in the world, meaning we didn’t always have lasers to collect our data for us. To be able to appreciate the speed and dependability of laser scanning technology, we thought we’d take you through a very brief history of a couple of other tools used historically in land surveying that led the technology to develop to its current level.

1. The Diopter

Far, far before lasers, early Greeks were using a land surveying tool called the diopter. This one is nearly as old as geometry itself, and one of geometry’s first uses was the precise division of land. Dating back to the 1st century C.E., the diopter is a classical tool used to measure angles and altitudes. The diopter was constructed rather simply for how we picture surveying tools today, a disk and a pivot are fixed to a stand and can be adjusted with a screw and a cogwheel to move freely or stay still.

Then, depending on what the device was being used for, it was fitted with either a sighting device or a water level. If the diopter was being used to measure an angle, say to divide the land up accurately, the user would fit a sighting device onto the diopter then adjust the screw so that the disk could move freely. The user would then pick points in the distance to represent the angular separation that needed to be measured (this could be a structure or a tree or a rock, anything they could find.) Then, the user would aim the sighting device at each point, readjust the device so that it remains still again and measure the angle stated on the device! The water level was fitted to determine altitudes, and basically, the user would look at the line of the water, to determine whether objects in the distance were at the same land level as that which the user was standing. The diopter was an incredibly important invention to surveying because it was the first surveying tool that didn’t require the surveyor to physically walk from point to point to measure them, and also didn’t require any extra equipment like chains or ropes.

2. Gunter’s Chain

Speaking of chains, they are one of the most important tools in the history of surveying, so it’s important that we mention them, Gunter’s chain especially. Gunter’s chain was a mathematical tool of measurement invented in 1620 by Edmund Gunter. Gunter’s chain consisted of 100 chain links that were 200 millimeters long, resulting in the full chain being 20.1 millimeters or 66 feet. This tool was incredibly important because it was easily understood by both Americans and English people. There was a way to divide or multiply Gunter’s chain to calculate most pre-existing units of land measurement, for example, ten square Gunter’s chains are equal to an acre of land. This was incredibly helpful because it means that it was the only tool really required to measure land. The physical use of Gunter’s chain was incredibly simple, aside from it being a bit physically taxing. To use it, one simply pins one end of the chain into the ground they want to start measuring and then walks to where they want to stop measuring and places another pin. pins can be placed anywhere along Gunter’s chain and distance can be calculated from there.

We think the history of land surveying is incredibly interesting and we’re so glad to offer our clients simple, fast, and accurate surveying possible at this time in history. We’ve only discussed land surveying, but it’s incredibly important to note that laser scanning can perform surveying of all kinds. Laser scanning surveys an area and everything in it. We use high-definition laser scanners, total stations, and modeling and point cloud software to provide comprehensive, record surveys, 3D CAD models and detailed 2D isometric drawings. This makes laser scanning an incredibly important tool not just for land surveying, but also for building information modeling.

At McNeil, we’re so excited to continue to grow as surveying technology continues to grow. If you’re interested in our surveying, laser scanning, or building information modeling services, please visit our website.

After a hurricane, LIDAR to the rescue

LIDARIn late August, Hurricane Laura formed in the Atlantic Ocean, quickly becoming a deadly Category 4 storm. Over the course of nine days, the hurricane wreaked havoc on the state of Louisiana, leaving nearly 80 people dead and more than $14 billion in damage and destruction in its wake. When all was said and done, Laura tied with an 1856 storm for the strongest hurricane ever to hit Louisiana.

On Aug. 22, Laura made landfall in the southwestern portion of the state, damaging the facilities at Westlake Chemical near Lake Charles. The extent of the damage was unknown, so the Westlake team called McNeil Engineering to perform an assessment. We were on the next flight out to see how we could assist.

Upon arrival, our team deployed the latest and greatest in LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to survey the damage. We set up the camera and scanning equipment to provide LIDAR scans within just a couple of days of the storm.

Due to its remote sensing capabilities, LIDAR is a technology McNeil Engineering has successfully used on projects in recent years. The technology uses a pulsed laser to create extremely precise 3D renderings of a specific area. It has been used by NOAA and other governmental agencies to help with emergency responses after disasters have hit.

In the end, we were successful in keeping the crew and local communities safe from any problems the hurricane might have caused. It is our highest priority to always provide a professional and precise product for our clients. Thanks to the Westlake Chemical team for enlisting McNeil and placing their trust in us during these challenging times.

What is 3D laser scanning?

3D laser scanningDo you remember the times we viewed and previewed everything in 2D? They practically built our childhoods. Then, animators gradually began venturing into the 3 dimensional world. The magic happened once a flat cartoon had transformed into a 3D model that can be seen on every angle.

3D laser scanning is much the same concept. With the fast-growing economy and technological advances, our expectations grow bigger each year as a result. But the major issue is the time and effort. This is why 3D laser scanning is now becoming a staple of every project regardless of its scale.

How 3D laser scanning works

This high definition surveying (HDS) method or laser scanning is primarily responsible for capturing high quality and speed data of a building or an object that is difficult to see with the naked eye. These laser beams that are emitted in the scanning process grab millions of each and every pixel of an object with high accuracy. These are used to measure bridges, buildings, roadways, etc. These eye-safe beams then grab the accurate X, Y, and Z, values in minutes.

The recorded angles and distances are collected through returned laser light signals. Then a 3D site or an object presentation is created with these collected data that is called a point cloud. The point cloud can be easily manipulated by a computer and it also can use several scanned data and stitch them together seamlessly to create a whole structure.

The fun part is these 3D representations of the real structures can be easily scrutinized and evaluated for further developments.

But why 3D laser scanning?

3D laser scanning was originally used for industrial plant facility construction and maintenance. However, the relevance of this technology has made it to the building construction and building information modeling (BIM) as well.

3D laser scanning has much more to give and here are some of the crucial benefits of this technology.

  1. Measuring faster and saving time

3D scanners can capture data in larger environments within a matter of seconds. In fact, they can capture more or less 1,000,000 points in a second. This vastly supports projects that demand a quick turnaround. 3D laser scanning reduces man-hours enabling the projects to be more fruitful.

  1. No physical contact needed

3D laser scanners eliminate the issue of exposing valuable surveyors to hazardous environments. Sometimes, people can’t reach specific areas, and they can be reached with 3D laser scanners. Therefore, this is the perfect way of cutting down the costs of health and safety measures.

  1. Protects the objects that are being measured

3D laser scanning is a non-invasive method. For example, imagine there are sensitive objects or environments. They obviously need to be scanned with minimal physical interaction in order to preserve their original state.

The 3D laser scanning can safely put them in heritage or cultural sectors without damaging or displacing them.

  1. Supports construction planning

When there is a necessity to renovate or add new structures to a building, 3D scanners come in quite handy. The reason is, oftentimes the current construction or maintenance documents, drawings, etc. are missing or completely obsolete. If this is the case, 3D laser scanning can provide a thorough picture of the surrounding area to develop an on-point construction plan.

  1. Lossless details

The details you obtain from 3D scanning are thoroughly comprehensive and error-free. Even the tiniest details are recorded, allowing the surveyors to work on the project without having to re-visit the sites.

What’s more, 3D laser scanning lets the clients and the surveyors virtually visit the site with the above-mentioned point cloud walk-throughs. They can also have a 360 image on the project that they are working on.

  1. Cost-effective

All the above benefits come down to the conclusion of saving thousands of bucks for any construction project.

Thanks to 3D laser scanning, the projects are running fast, no costly measures needed, no physical re-visits needed and no harm is done to the scanned objects. Having top-notch details along with these benefits saves an unimaginable cost.

Do 3D laser scanners need great software?

The short answer is yes. Regardless of what your scanning process is, the software that is being used to create the point cloud can make a great difference to the end product. As a matter of fact, software should be the most crucial part of 3D laser scanning.

Software that is integrated with the scanning hardware allows you,

  • To measure and export standard industry file types easily from the point cloud.
  • To create a precise presentation combining various scans together.
  • To have user-friendly tools to manipulate the 3D models.

Do 3D laser scanning hardware matter?

It is crucial to understand the performance level of the chosen 3D laser scanner largely affects the project’s final output. The following areas of the hardware should be on point to meet those respective requirements.

  • Range

This can be the most important choice the buyer should make when they opt for a 3D laser scanner. They need to think about the range they expect to reach. Imagine you’re capturing something that is located hundreds of feet above. If you don’t plan on investing for lifts or scaffolding, you definitely should choose a long-range scanner.

  • Speed

If the project requirement is to acquire high-resolution scans of an intricate environment, a slow scanner won’t do you any good. The whole point of having a 3D scanner is to make the surveyors’, engineers’, and other workers’ jobs easier.

  • Accuracy

When a buyer invests in a 3D laser scanner, they should look for one that has pre-eminent accuracy. The accuracy of a scanner also depends on the temperature and humidity. Therefore, making sure to go for a scanner that can withstand harsh environmental conditions is mandatory. Imagine, putting off a valuable project just because you cannot use the 3D laser scanner in the heavy rain.

  • Safety

Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) rates all the 3D laser scanners evaluating their safety levels for the eyes.

Class 1 is the highest rank a device can have that ensures no precautions are needed to operate it.

Summing up

3D laser scanning is a fine example of rapidly growing technology in the world. So, 3D laser scanners’ importance is a no brainer, as they save time, effort, money, and man-power all together by providing crystal clear depictions of a structure or an area.

Contact us here today for more information regarding your next project!

Laser scanning 101

Laser ScanningWith the rapid growth of technology, people tend to use new methods to expedite their work from small scale to larger-scale projects. Laser scanning is used to collect and measure data on buildings, objects, surfaces, and environments, etc. efficiently.

Mostly, construction, research, and design industries receive innovative benefits from laser scanning then later developing 3D models for accuracy for their constructions.

Laser scanning is not new technology, but where did it start?

How it all begin?

When people’s needs for recreating accurate data on objects and places, they were continuously finding ways to make their work easier. As a result, 3D scanning technology came to the limelight during the latter part of the 20th century.

The first-ever 3D scanning technology was developed in 1960. Lights, projectors, and cameras were used to support the early scanners. At that time, there were many limitations that consumed a lot of effort and time to properly scan an object.

These older versions were then replaced with modified scanners after 1985. They primarily used white light, shadowing, and lasers to scan surfaces.

Experts began venturing optical technology to create a better model that uses light to capture an object or a surface. The scanner had to be three-dimensional or 3D (data from every angle) and the software-based limitations were occurring.

Cyberware Laboratories of Los Angeles developed an application with their Head Scanner to capture humans predominantly for the animation industry purposes. They had managed to develop a full-body 3D scanner that was named REPLICA launched in 1994. The laser stripe scanning technology (single scan that acquires a large portion of a surface) was evolved with this scanner that was accurate and fast.

Finally, in 1996, the first Reality Capture System was developed that was fast and reliable.

Key benefits of 3D Laser Scanners today:

  1. They can scan tough surfaces regardless of their material makeup.
  1. They can withstand changing light conditions and ambient lights well.
  1. The scanner doesn’t have to touch the object. So the object won’t be distorted or damaged making the scanner produce accurate data.
  1. Most of them are Portable and cost-effective.
  1. Their designs are simple.
  1. User friendly.
  1. Safe to use.

How does Laser Scanning work?

Laser scanners collect data for project documentation, regardless of the subject. This method is swift, accurate and provides detailed data.

Contemporary scanners have lasers, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) that can measure linear and angular motions of a certain object, sensors, photodetectors (light or other electromagnetic radiation sensors), and receiver electronics.

Say there is a bridge and you need to acquire the measurements (X, Y, and Z, values) of that bridge. Imagine going there with a team and measuring those intricate pieces in person. Daunting, to say the least.

But with a 3D laser scanner, you can acquire these metrics in a matter of minutes. A 3D scanner has an eye-safe, narrow laser beam that can cover a particular area of a surface. This laser beam that is emitted by the scanner can gather millions of sophisticated data on that bridge, roadway, or building without a hassle.

The light waves hit the targeted object and calculate the measurements. Then they come back to the sensor. The time this process takes is known as the time of flight.

Okay. Now you’ve got all the data. What’s next?

The scanned measurements can be carefully collected and saved into a comprehensive point cloud database. These grouped data can be manipulated, viewed, analyzed, and navigated on a laptop or a desktop easily. It is pretty much like a 3D model that is created using a traditional computer-aided design (CAD) system.

High-Definition Surveying (HDS) is beneficial for many things. Interference detection, quantity takeoff, Virtual walkthroughs, interactive 3D models, containment analysis, deformation analysis, critical move plans, demolition plans, and inventory management are just to name a few.

Ways that Laser Scanning is used today:

Laser scanning serves a lot for government-backed high-value projects nowadays. Not to mention privately funded projects like road surveying and national defense projects are also backed up with laser scanning technology.

Most civil engineering related projects are supported by this technology as well. Laser scanning helps any project to accomplish 100{ffa1fb9a833dbe70b91c2563ca2a54067368c324c18ffac54b9412388222efff} accuracy in less time and effort.

Below are some of the main uses of Laser Scanning today:

1. Study of Towns

Urban topography is a study that is conducted on towns. In this, the towns’ forms, architectural history, geography, layouts, etc. should be accurately determined for town planning.

Urban planners with laser scanners support this critical process by collecting and processing data prior to any development.

Laser scanning also helps with civil surveying, mining, reverse engineering, archaeological projects, etc.

2. Road Surveying and Traffic Construction

Laser scanning can complete road surveying and traffic construction analysis in a matter of hours.

With laser scanning, this is done easier than ever. During road construction, it can reduce the task completion time without stopping the traffic or delaying the construction work.

Laser scanning also reduces the workforce because it’s fully automated except for tasks such as handling equipment, data collection, analysis, and CAD model development that require people.

3. Spatial Scanning

In Spatial Scanning, errors and time wastage aren’t acceptable. Laser scanning eliminates both of these problems.

Needless to say, laser scanning largely supports improving the process of planning as well.

Because of the efficiency and the accuracy that is provided by laser scanning during spatial scanning, researchers are further inspired to use it for surveying, mobile mapping, scanning buildings and interiors as well.


As previously mentioned, 3D laser scanning technology has been around for quite some time. With the evolution of technology, it has been developed in a way that is incredibly useful for all the people who need to make their work a little easier.

3D laser scanning saves money, time, and effort that ultimately will make a tremendous positive impact on your work.

If you have any questions involving laser scanning or would like more information regarding your next large construction project, please reach out to us HERE today. We look forward to working with you!

3D Laser scanners – A comprehensive overview

3D Laser ScanThoroughly understanding the complex intricacies involved in the functionality of 3D scanners is not entirely necessary for the client. However, it may be beneficial to have a generalized understanding of how these lasers solve problems and streamline the process for civil engineers and landscape architects, alike.

3D laser scanning is progressively evolving into standardized ways within the industry to systematically capture key metrics due to the laser’s precision and speed – the turnaround time is optimized with heightened accuracy. The return on laser integration is nearly immediate, especially when you consider the massive amounts of data that can be accessed using this technique.

But the question still remains. How exactly do these things work? And how scientifically complicated does the process actually get?

How 3D laser scanning works

Detailed documentation is acquired through the non-invasive projections of the laser. As we outlined on our site, “a 3D laser scanner emits a narrow, eye-safe laser beam that sweeps across a target area, such as a bridge, roadway or building, gathering millions of closely spaced measurements (points with a unique X, Y, and Z, value) in a matter of minutes. These scanned measurements are collected and grouped into a comprehensive point cloud database that can be easily manipulated on a standard desktop or laptop computer.” (For more applicable information regarding 3D laser scanning, click this link)

Once this data has been captured, it can be rotated and intricately analyzed just like the more traditional 3D CAD system models. The early implementation and utilization of laser scanning during the initial project phase conveniently allows for granular projections, predicators, strategic planning, and analytical measurements to be accurately and effectively acquired beforehand, thus mitigating project related risks

Our expansive 3D Laser Scan team at McNeil Engineering is comprised of both technical and specialized experts fully capable of navigating through industry related nuances and structuring the process in personalized detail for the particular need of the individual client – on a per project basis.

The use of these HD (high definition) lasers provide various service offerings that include, record surveys, 2D isometric drawings and 3D CAD models, all used to make project implementation more accurate and efficient on your behalf.

Let’s dive a bit deeper, shall we?

3D laser scanners secure data by combining the use of two particular pieces of information being projected and receptive at the same time. Simply put, we are talking about a laser in conjunction with a rotating camera, and a mirror needed for navigating the laser beam.

Next, the software paired with this procedure takes into account the distance between the camera and point of the laser to begin building the geometrical 3D model for analysis. Procedurally speaking, this means that the software must accurately detect where the line of the laser fell based on the captured images. In theory this is relatively simple – in reality, the software needs to be adaptive and sophisticated.

You may see some lasers utilize a repetitive flash, or an on / off trace. This gives the scanner viable reference between the laser light and other light that could affect the accuracy of the model.

Did you know that single scans are typically insufficient as far as providing the data needed to build a comprehensive and accurate model? Multiple scans are needed and then comparatively evaluated to produce the most precise metrics possible for the best outcome.

Other types of 3D scanning

For referencing and resourceful purposes, the list below encompasses a few of the various types of 3D laser scanning available today:

  • The 3D Laser Scanner (this is the type we are predominantly referencing within this article today)
  • Stereo Vision and Photogrammetry Scanning
  • Structured Light Scanning
  • Time of Flight Scanning ( d = c * t / 2 )
  • Triangulation Scanning (the camera and laser form the baseline of the triangle, the laser and object for scanning form the right angle, and the camera and the object form the long side of the triangle)
  • Point Clouds and Registration Scanning

The use of these specific methods listed here are based on each project’s specific needs, projected uses and technology readily available.


We get it, lasers and the technology required to ascertain specific model metrics can be a daunting task to attempt to absorb, but we hope this article gives you some basic takeaways and allowed you to understand the basic flow of how 3D laser scanning works.

If you are still unsure, don’t worry, this is where we come in. If you have any questions at all regarding an upcoming project you may have, or would like more information on sifting through the complexities of 3D laser scanning, reach out to us today. We would love to chat with you!

Building Information Modeling – Features and Benefits

BIM, or Building Information Modeling, is a software that helps to generate 3D representations of physical structures and their individual characteristics. The software is commonly used in architecture and construction, as the two sectors primarily focus on building large structures.

Its tools have gained popularity among stakeholders as the 3D capabilities assist to provide granular results during drafting when compared to historical 2-dimensional designs. With 3D creations, property owners and managers can visualize the final implementation of a structure after completion.

Features of Building Information Modeling

  • Planning

The first step when using the software is drafting the initial design. With the software, multiple stakeholders in a construction project can work on a design simultaneously. As an optimized result, multiple collaborators will see the design before approval. Once the initial design is complete, BIM users can then present the designs to clients for approval before moving forward.

  • 3D Modeling

Contrary to popular belief, designing a physical structure is only the beginning iteration of uses acquired in BIM software. Users can simulate various parts of a building after the creation of a 3D model. The software offers insights into exactly how various elements will impact a physical structure after project completion. Modeling can dive into metrics and analysis as forecasted, such as providing solutions to help users see how sunlight will hit a building at different times of the year, or how sunlight will affect a building’s energy usage.

  • Construction

When actual construction is on deck for integration, BIM offers solutions to allow users to sequence steps and elements of the entire process. The elements include construction materials and direct personnel needed for work.

The construction crew can review the 3D model developed using the building information modeling to perform clash detection to mitigate risk and avoid problems during the implementation stage. With the BIM software, stakeholders in the construction process can analyze and resolve issues that may arise and ensure timely completion.

How Exactly will BIM Transform the Construction Industry?

  • Improved Project Outcomes

Designing physical structures is a complex process and requires input from experienced specialists. After the completion of the designing phase, engineers undertake structural assessments testing different strains.

Building information modeling allows users to facilitate the planning process in a near automated manner. Stakeholders can view, manipulate and edit all planning stages within various formats. BIM solutions help to streamline change requests, automate planning and allow users to share expertise.

BIM allows designers and architects to experiment with different construction materials and work closely with project collaborators to acquire ideal options for a particular project. Also, an interior designer can take radical approaches and alter iterations based on a client’s feedback.

  • Improved Quality Assurance

Designing physical structures using building information modeling involves more collaboration among stakeholders, but the chances of stifled progress is low. There is no need for users of the software to propagate changes manually in all plans as every user is editing the same data set.

Mistakes are far less likely to occur as a result of inadequate information in various parts of a design. As a result, BIM improves quality assurance and reduces the amount of time needed for verification.

  • Improved Accuracy

The software uses a wide range of advanced design and mapping tools. Investors within the construction industry are increasingly adopting the integration of 3D scanning to display the characteristics of a site and other existing physical structures.

At the beginning of a construction project, builders use aerial imagery and digital elevation to capture every detail accurately, and this helps to streamline the preparations stage. BIM allows users to access accurate input and model sharing.

  • Simulation

Building information modeling has tools that make it easier for specialists to apply real-life situations on different models. As a result, managers can evaluate whether they are building a structure according to initial standards and specifications.

For example, building information modeling users can examine the energy-efficiency levels of a structure and determine the best options to prevent energy loss in the future. Project managers can simulate the usage of different construction materials and find ideal options for a specific project.

We understand the complexities that come with technological advancements. We have the knowledge and expertise to take your project to the next level. If you have any questions about BIM in general or would like to speak to an expert, feel free to contact us today for more information.

Laser scanning and civil engineering – a partnership we never knew we needed

Laser scanning and civil engineeringCivil engineering, as it stands alone, is a broad subject and involves multiple sectors. The meticulous role of a civil engineer is crucial in varying ways, including the construction of buildings, highways, dams and tunnels. Consulting and contract engineering are the main components within the industry.

The consulting experts are involved in the project designs, while contracting engineers manage the construction projects. A contracting engineer is tasked with ensuring that a proposed project has been implemented.

McNeil Engineering has a team of experienced and professional civil engineers. Before the commencement of any project, experts from the organization will analyze a proposed site location and the surrounding areas.

The analysis will involve search, investigation and verification of the site’s feasibility for construction purposes. Civil engineers will then design a plan, outline the key variables of a project and any necessary changes.

A civil engineer is responsible for monitoring human resources during a construction project. The experts must ensure effective communication between stakeholders such as architects, subcontractors, and consultants.

The following situations are comprehensive scenarios when you would acquire the services of McNeil Civil Engineers.

Plot Plans

Before homeowners determine utility locations or improvement projects, they may need a plot plan. Experts from the engineering firm will provide the floor plans that you need for your projects.

New Homes or Renovations

If you are looking for a design or plan for building a new home or renovations, a civil engineer can help. The insights from civil engineering experts will help to ensure the successful completion of a structure.

Septic Systems

The civil engineers from McNeil Engineering are skilled in designing various types of septic disposal systems. The civil engineering experts from the organization will adhere to the standards set by local health departments.

Drainage Systems

Whether you need a design for a new drainage system or redesigning an existing one, civil engineering specialists can help to perform a comprehensive investigation to find out the ideal solution for your situation.

Walls and Landscape Plans

The requirements for walls and landscape plans vary from one jurisdiction to another. For example, there may be regulations for the height of a wall or placement of plants and trees in a landscape.

Civil engineering experts from McNeil Engineering posses extensive knowledge about the regulations in different jurisdictions. They are capable of offering insights needed during the construction of walls and adoption of landscape plans to ensure that you comply with relevant codes.

Inspections and Assessments

Civil engineering experts can be helpful if your construction needs structural inspection or assessment. When you hire specialists from the engineering firm, they will provide certified reports after the inspections and assessments.

Permitting Applications

Applications for permits can be a lengthy processes and an overwhelming labyrinth for some homeowners. A civil engineering specialist is experienced when it comes to applications and can offer the assistance that you need.

Partnering with civil engineering experts can offer you representation in various meetings and help you to answer questions about your project. This will ensure that every stakeholder is well-informed at all stages.

3D Laser Scanning Services

This practice is becoming vastly prominent in different parts of the world for both small scale and large scale projects. There are countless benefits to using laser scanning. For instance, scanning is easier when using 3D laser scanning devices.

Another benefit of thoroughly utilizing the technology is the immediate improvement in the accuracy and efficiency of the process as a whole. 3D laser scanning can help to produce precise data about a structure in a short period. It highlights the location of mechanical, structural, and plumbing features of a structure.

The views and cross-sections of floor plans help to improve accuracy during drawings. 3D scanning is helpful during the restoration of historic buildings as plans for such structures may not be readily otherwise available.

Before the invention and implementation of 3D laser scanning, reworking was common during construction projects. As a result, property owners may incur significant expenses and fees. Experts from the engineering firm can identify errors using laser scanning devices in advance and rectify any potential problems beforehand. With the technology, the amount of work to be done is minimized significantly.

The scanning can also help to lower the time used and the costs of an engineering project. 3D scanning devices produce comprehensive documents that users can review off-site, allowing for the elimination of regular site visits to review various aspects of a structure.

We understand the complexities involved in civil engineering and design integration. Feel free to reach out to us for more information, we will gladly assist.