Geo Week News

November 26, 2012

The old way vs. the new way

Jim Wiethorn is the kind of guy you only call when bad things happen. As the engineer who heads up the crane and heavy equipment division with Haag Engineering, he’s reconstructed hundreds of accident scenes where large pieces of equipment smashed into other large pieces of equipment, sometimes, unfortunately, injuring and killing people. It’s his job to figure out what happened and why.

Having a drink with him the night before his presentation at SPAR Europe, he and colleague Chis Zmijewski were busy telling me a great story about how they weaseled past some NYC cops on their way to scanning that hanging crane caused by Hurricane Sandy when Jim’s phone buzzed: A crane had fallen over in New Mexico, a man had been seriously injured, and he was needed (also, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised there’s a Fortunately, he had someone who could take his place and fly there in the short term so he could still speak at SPAR Europe the next day, but it got me thinking about how the efficiencies created by laser scanning and 3D modeling technology aren’t just important for saving money and increasing margin.

What it’s really about is making sure a guy like Jim, who has expertise that’s rare and valuable, isn’t tied up on one job for months and months. Sure, saving money is nice, but increasingly it seems like the most valuable currency out there is time. If you can reduce the time it takes to do something significantly, the money will follow.

To drive this point home, here’s Jim talking about how he used to do his job, and how he does it now, with the benefit of 3D imaging:


It’s amazing how antiquated building those models sounds nowadays, and yet that was state of the art only about a decade ago. Sure, processing point clouds is tedious, but it can’t be as bad as building fake landscapes out of papier mache, right?

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