LiDAR Today: Measuring Using The Most Advanced LiDAR Technology Wasn’t Always The Case

The Simple Economics of Handheld 3D Scanners

by Larry Peters

When 3D scanners came on the scene in the late ‘90s, they revolutionized the process of accurately documenting physical spaces.  Superior to photogrammetry, in accuracy and ease of capture, point clouds replaced pixels, as the source of fast, accurate measure taking.  

The investment is substantial for a 3D scanning equipment.  The cost of a Leica (model #) has hovered around the $100,000. range since it was introduced in (what year.).  Faro came along in (year) as serious competitor to Leica, with a specific lower price story, with their (Model) retailing for (price) the year it was introduced.

Although the Fero price is lower, it nonetheless incorporates the same time management and workflow issues that crop up with all stationary/terrestrial scanners — set-up time, and substantial post production time, in particular.  

The introduction of the GeoSLAM’s ZEB-REVO-RT in late 2017, changed the whole equation, when it came to calculating costs and managing workflow, because at (price) it was about half the price of the Faro and slightly more than 1/3 the price of the Leica (model).  

The ZEB-REVO RT is handheld, you walk around with it.  So there is no time taken setting up and taking down, at a number of positions.  You just hold the ZEB-REVO RT in your hand, with the data logger in a shoulder bag.  You watch the point cloud as it is captured on any handheld device, like an iPhone or Android.  There is no wondering if you got sufficient data, because you see what you’re capturing, as it happens.  And there is little post production. 

The ZEB-REVO RT changed the whole cost calculation, by much lower price point, and by introducing a completely different workflow, that is demonstrably 10 times faster than terrestrial scanners.  

In terms of accuracy, the Leica and Faro both claim 2mm accuracy.  The ZEB-REVO is listed at 2cc. So, that difference in accuracy is important, only if it is necessary.  For those cases where 2cc is accurate enough, the difference in the costs is dramatic.  

Let’s take a hypothetical example.  A small apartment complex, of 12 units, all 2 bedroom 1 bath.  

The owner needs as build measurements.  In order to do the entire complex, a stationary scanner would require at least 3 set-ups in each unit, and this would not include the closets or other smaller spaces.  One for the main room, one for the bedroom and one for the bathroom, assuming the it was open plan. If the kitchen is separate, that would be an additional scan.

The introduction of the GeoSLAM’s ZEB-REVO-RT in late 2017, changed the whole equation, when it came to calculating costs and managing workflow, because at (price) it was about half the price of the Faro and slightly more than 1/3 the price of the Leica (model).

 Per Leica, each scan takes a minimum of 2 minutes.  But a manual for the P40 said they average 4 scans an hour.  So, It is probably safe to average one hour per scan. So, 12 hours of scanning, usually with a team of two, to do the scanning part.  The post production, putting it all together is another substantial block of time. (I cannot find any information on this. Does anyone know how long it takes?  Or can anyone find it.) Perhaps equal to the scan time. So using a product like the Leica scanner, you could expect to take 35 man hours to scan and process their entire complex, not counting the outside.  Probably 4 setups, but more depending on the shape of the structure.  

That’s 44 worker hours, plus the cost of the equipment.  At $100,000, amortized over 5 years, $20,000., a year, or about $75.00 a day.  Assuming the average hourly rate for the employees is $15.00 per hour, at 42 hours, equaling $630.00 for compensation.  Add $200. for cost of equipment for approximately 2.5 days, comes to about $830.00, to do an as built 3D scan of the complex.

GeoSlam’s ZEB-REVO RT can scan each apartment, including all closets, laundry areas, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, in as long as it takes to walk through all of those spaces.  I will say 10 minutes, but it could be done faster, but 10 minutes will cover the initial time it took to remove the ZEB-REVO RT from the case, turn it on and wait for the go light.  12 rooms X 10 minutes is 120 minutes. Another 10 to walk around the perimeter of the complex, for a total of 130 minutes. 2 hours and 10 minutes for one operator, compared to 12 hours of shooting and scanning for two operators.  With the ZEB REVO, RT, there is little post, because the image of the point cloud can be seen as it is captured, on any hand held device — smart phone or tablet. So we will add an hour to transfer the scan to a computer. 3 hours 10 minutes at $15. per hour, about $50, in labor.  And the ZEB REVO RT is about 1/2 the price of the Leica (number). $35.00 a day, but we used less than half, so about $20. For a total of $70.00. Compared to $830. for the Leica (model).  

GeoSLAM claims the ZEB-REVO RT is 10 times faster than stationary scanners, And there is the math to prove it.  

How low does the price of a terrestrial 3D scanner have to go, to overcome the breakthrough convenience and speed of the ZEB-REVO RT?

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About the Author

Larry Peters is the CMO and Chief Contributor to the Panoscan Blog. Connect with Larry on Instagram @Panoscan_Inc