David Dossey and Aaron McMillan are always on the lookout for new opportunities. The founding partners of the Texas-based 1519 Surveying LLC built a successful business providing ALTA/ACSM, boundary and title, construction, GPS, topographical, and oil and gas surveys, and then became one of the first surveying firms in the region to offer a range of complementary GIS products and services. In spite of their achievements in these areas, they have never been satisfied to maintain the status quo. “We’re constantly trying to diversify,” Dossey says.
With a background in manufacturing for concrete products, McMillan and Dossey knew that manufacturing facilities often have difficulty with raw material inventory. Seeing an opportunity for laser scanning to streamline and simplify inventory processes, they began searching for a way to get their foot in the door. “Although we hadn’t used laser scanning before, it has always been intriguing to us,” Dossey says. “We had been trying to get involved in it for the last couple of years, but we couldn’t justify the cost of the hardware and software without having the projects to support it.”
An Integrated Scanning Solution
When the Leica Nova MS50 MultiStation was introduced in June 2013, the business owners were intrigued. The first high-precision robotic total station to integrate 1,000 points-per-second scanning capabilities as part of a traditional survey workflow, the Leica Nova MS50 provided a way to offer laser scanning services on specific projects without a dedicated high-definition scanner and processing software.
Several months later, the company received a request from a major client to measure aggregate inventory for an ongoing audit. “It was the perfect time to pull the trigger,” Dossey says. “We were able to replace our robot with a better robot and get the scanning capabilities, too. It was a no-brainer.”
Within a week of purchasing the MS50 and before their first job was even completed, 1519 Surveying was asked to survey a jet fuel storage area. The integrated laser scanning capabilities allowed crews to turn the project around quickly. Then, a contractor asked them to scan a new building over a series of weeks to determine whether it was tilting out of plumb. The firm was also able to add value to an ongoing survey project with a convenience store chain by scanning the gas pumps and canopies to provide accurate as-built data. “Once you have the equipment, it opens your eyes to all these other ways to use it,” McMillan says. “What we’re able to give our clients is light years in front of anything they’ve ever experienced. It just blows them away.”
Surveying for 3D Markets
Having laser scanning capabilities integrated with a high-precision robotic total station is key. “We do all of our construction staking with this instrument, but then we have the scanning capabilities when we need them,” Dossey says. “On really intricate surveys, it’s much more efficient and much more accurate [compared to traditional methods], and we’re drawing on something that looks like a photograph. It’s just so much easier for a client to be able to look at the screen captures of the point cloud and visualize what’s being represented on a two-dimensional piece of paper.”
The ability to provide a faster turnaround with higher-quality deliverables gives 1519 Surveying a competitive edge in today’s markets as demand for point clouds and 3D deliverables continues to grow. But both McMillan and Dossey have their eyes on the future. They believe it’s only a matter of time before laser scanning becomes a necessity. “Within five years, if you don’t have scanning capabilities, you’re not going to be able to compete,” Dossey says. “Right now, someone has to be the first one and create the expectations, and that’s the direction we’re going.”