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Van Bower Construction Services Ensures Accurate Restoration of Historic Site with Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner

Van Bower Construction Services Ltd. is a construction management/survey company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The principals of the company have over 60 years of design, survey, and construction experience, primarily for highway, mining, and infrastructure projects. The company began operations in 2010 with a vision to provide industry-leading client experiences in construction management, surveying, drafting, 3D scanning, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design Construction (VDC) services.

Enhancing Client Projects with Technology

As a technology-driven company, Van Bower provides architects, engineers, and construction professionals with the tools and insights to efficiently plan, design, build and manage infrastructure and building projects. Scott Harkness, vice president of operations and partner at Van Bower, is one of the company’s 3D specialists. He is always on the lookout for the latest 3D scanning technology to enhance his clients’ projects, which is why he was so excited to learn about the new Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner that allows users to view scan data, 3D models, and field layout points at the same time on a tablet controller while in the field.Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner with tablet

With the help of local Trimble technology reseller BuildingPoint Canada, Harkness purchased the Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner, which includes the Trimble FieldLink layout and scanning software that helps increase precision and productivity in the field. He and his team put it to use right away as a selling point to win new business.

“What caught my eye with the Trimble X7 was the ability to use it with a tablet for basic onsite registration, and to see what we are actually capturing before we leave the site,” said Harkness. “There have been projects in the past where we had to go back to the site after the fact because we didn’t see the data until we got back to the office and realized that we needed more scan coverage for adequate overlap.”

Beatty Street Restoration Project

Soon after purchasing its new 3D laser scanner, Van Bower began a project to restore a historic Beatty Street building in downtown Vancouver, using the technology to complete an entire 3D scan to capture the current state of the building.

Reliance Properties, owner and developer of the property, is embarking on an extensive restoration and mass timber addition to the building, which was originally built in 1911. The project includes a full retrofit and revitalization of the property, which is a massive undertaking considering the requirements in place for the heritage preservation of historic Vancouver structures. Existing timber and masonry will need to be preserved wherever possible, and new heavy timber construction needs to “reflect and reinterpret” the existing structure’s language.

Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner in Vancouver

For an expansion and revitalization project of this type, it is essential to preserve the architecture and ensure the accuracy of the information across the project. To help achieve this, the Van Bower team conducted roughly 220 scans inside and out over the course of two days. All of the scans were then processed and registered at the office down to millimeter accuracy using Trimble RealWorks, and delivered to architects involved in the next phase of the project.

Van Bower was also able to minimize the possibility of future rework or surprises during the construction phase by having the design accurately match the actual state of the building. This was especially significant since the as-builts that the architect, Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers, was working with were over 60 years old and the structure had settled over time.

“The ability to view scan, model, and layout data together in real-time and compare it to actual field conditions has been very beneficial,” said Harkness. “We can go to the site with the BIM model, pick different site features to tie into, and coordinate them so that the scan data ties back to the design. We can also identify any clash detection or deviation right on site.”

Van Bower project in Vancouver

The technology is also easy to use. BuildingPoint Canada provided a demo and onsite training, and it only took about 30 minutes for Van Bower employees to get up to speed on the X7 features and start putting it to use.

“BuildingPoint Canada has been a great resource for training and technical support, offering best practices and trouble-shooting when needed. It’s been a great experience working with them,” said Harkness.

Using the X7 has enabled Van Bower to double its efficiency, take on more work and eliminate rework and extra site visits. The technology also helps bridge the gap between the field and the office by allowing workers to see everything they are doing right on the tablet in the field and confidently deliver that data to the office.

“It has definitely improved our workflow and allows us to work with the confidence that we can leave the site knowing we have everything we need,” said Harkness.

3D Scanning for Business Growth


The Van Bower team has relied on 3D scanning to help evolve its capabilities through the years. Early on, the company mainly used scanners as a tool for surveying hard-to-reach places like bridge deck heights or for very specific tasks. From there, the company began using scanning technology for expanded purposes such as inspection services for ensuring floor flatness, 3D deviation analysis, scan to BIM integration, and clash detection. With continued innovation in 3D scanning technology, Harkness believes the future also holds great opportunity for the company to increase its services through the use of 3D scanning.

“We are always testing new technology and comparing data to find new ways to increase our efficiency.” said Harkness.

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