Geo Week News

February 3, 2012

A scanner lands in Cleveland

02.03.12.cleveland

KS Associates ups its game with a ScanStation C10

ELYRIA, Ohio – What led to 30-employee civil engineering and surveying firm KS Associates to acquire a shiny new Leica ScanStation C10? “It was an opportunity,” said Mark Skellenger, VP at KS. “We have a good market share of public survey work for public infrastructure in the Cleveland market, so our thought process was, ‘If we can’t do it, who could?’ We’re not aware of any other survey company that’s committed to this yet.”

That opportunity is two-fold. With a large survey backlog, there’s an opportunity to use the C10 to cost-effectively tackle business that’s already in the pipeline, “and then, beyond that, we think we can spin off new types of work, through marketing and awareness of the technology,” Skellenger said.

To that end, Skellenger said KS has set internal goals (including 25 percent utilization of the equipment for the year; and a specific, conservative number for “new” business) aimed at using the scanner to generate new business and assembled an internal team that will meet weekly to “ascertain what our best practices are for this device.”

That includes looking at what ancillary products – a taller tripod, new software – might support greater utilization of the scanner. If it looks like there are potential efficiencies to be created, or business to be gained, “we’ll gamble on that,” Skellenger said.

Already, the team has received training from IMAGINiT and SmartMultiMedia and Skellenger said it was good to have that resource to draw upon – “We know the cost of spinning our wheels, so we’ll bring in people whenever we need them.” Ultimately it was that support network, plus the input of KS chief surveyor Mark Yeager, that led to the selection of the C10. “The dominant driver is utilization,” Skellenger said, “and 80 percent of that will come doing work that we already have, doing it quicker and more efficiently.” The comfort level already established with the Leica suite was important, as was knowledge it would be easy to rent more laser scanning equipment in the same vein should business pick up quickly.

There’s still plenty to be decided. What’s the best workflow? Should there be a group dedicated to 3D laser scanning or is it just a subset of the surveying team? What’s the best way to market that KS now has a scanner? Are there customers out there looking for scanning services specifically? Is the price they’ve set for scanning services right for the market?

But “that’s the opportunity,” Skellenger said. Finding out and adjusting the plan along the way. “The cutting edge of technology can also be the bleeding edge,” he laughed. But, ultimately, “this is just another tool to measure stuff. It’s a very precise tool, and it requires specific training, but it’s just another tool in the toolbox.”

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