Freeze Frame: 3-D Laser Scanning Captures the Picture

3-D Laser ScanningPreservation of evidence and accurate documentation is a vital component of any forensic investigation, and with the increase in complex risks being underwritten, the techniques used by property adjusters, damage appraisers, and forensic engineers must adapt to the insurance market’s present needs. According to the latest issue of Claims Magazine, the use of three-dimensional 3-D laser scanning is a crucial tool that allows adjusters and investigators to not only document the scope of the damage digitally and in real time, but provide important data to be used for future risk assessments.

In its simplest form, a 3-D laser scanner can generate three-dimensional copies to millimeter accuracy of complex objects and environments. So what are the benefits of using this method?

  • It can take millions of measurements in minutes, which potentially results in reduced time (and cost) than it would have using traditional methods.
  • It makes for remarkably accurate data. The ability to digitally document a scene soon after an accident is extremely valuable, especially when a business needs to resume online transactions to avoid increasing business interruption claims.
  • The use of a laser scanner to capture an accident scene from a distance greatly enhances the safety of those responding to a claim. For example, it can be used for industrial building collapses that were too unstable to allow investigators and engineers on the premises. Instead, the scanner can be set up outside to document the entire area for use in future analysis.
  • The 3-D data points collected are transferred in accordance with ASTM E2807, the standard specification for this type of data collection and exchange. Known for its high reliability quotient, it has enabled scan data to be introduced and accepted as evidence into state and federal courts.

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of using 3-D laser scanning, let’s review some common applications:

  • Using 3-D documentation in vehicle accident reconstruction enables the investigators to have an endless number of facts and measurements at their disposal. It also allows for crush profiles to be documented with increased speed and accuracy over traditional methods.
  • Under normal circumstances completely documenting a structure fire is nearly impossible, but with a 3-D scanner a fire investigator can obtain data points of the exterior structure, offering investigators an easy way to measure necessary points after the demolition of the building.
  • Engineers can use the high definition panoramic photos captured by a scanner to assist in a structural collapse evaluation. Assessing the data points collected allows for millimeter accuracy within an HD field of vision.
  • In bridge damage evaluation, accurate documentation of the damaged area from a safe distance, along with demonstrative figures produced to objectively communicate the facts, allow for expedited resolution of the proposed repair protocols and associated costs.
  • Construction sites are in a dynamic state which can occasionally impede the evaluation of an accident. Information gathered utilizing 3-D documentation can be merged with other data—such as construction plans and aerial photos of the scene—to accurately recreate the site and illustrate the conditions at the time of the accident.
  • Using 3-D scanning to produce a floor elevation map can geographically illustrate elevation changes throughout the floor at a single point in time or show deviations that occur during an extended period of time, which help to emphasize the vital details in an investigation.
  • Advanced modeling/animation visualizations and simulations based on real-life data gathered via 3-D documentation help to present the necessary facts in a case, which can convey “what happened” to a jury in a clear and impactful manner.

Traditional forensic engineering methodology coupled with the revolutionary technology of 3-D scanning has changed the way investigators document a scene and utilize site data. The end result: capturing vital information today to that it can be used tomorrow, creating a safe work environment while reducing labor cost and time.  Call Kompani Risk & Insurance Solutions, Inc. Brokers for your risk management needs.