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3D point cloud data from BLK2GO

BLK2GO for Facility and Property Management: Hospitals and College Dorms with Natisoft

By Christopher Dollard


Facility and property management is a complicated profession that covers a huge variety of spaces and buildings. Facility managers might be responsible for hospitals, power plants, manufacturing plants, or other complex and highly active spaces. These professionals require up to date complex 2D floorplans and key directories of their spaces, which can be a time-consuming and daunting process.

2D floorplan BLK2GO

Natisoft, located in Bologna, Italy, is a firm that helps facility and property managers by providing digital as-built documentation of facilities, architectural plans of properties, and key directories of specific equipment, objects, or machines to clients. Their deliverables are complex 2D floor plans and 3D models. And they recently adopted the BLK2GO and discovered many immediate benefits to their workflow.

Andrea Mongelli, President of Natisoft, described what he thought when first seeing Leica BLK2GO handheld imaging laser scanner at a tradeshow. “To me, seeing the BLK2GO was very interesting and seemed to make sense,” he said. “It’s very different for us to take our measurements, dimensions, and geotagged photos of objects while moving. Usually we would use tablets with our XiRi software inside a facility to document it manually. But this can be difficult in certain types of facilities, so we wanted to try this interesting mobile approach.”

green point cloud from BLK2GO data

When Natisoft began scanning their client’s spaces and buildings with the BLK2GO, they instantly saved time, gained on-site speed and accuracy, and streamlined their software and processing workflow to take advantage of the time they saved scanning. They’ve also eliminated mistakes, including those that would require return trips to the job site, to deliver the best floorplans they can to their clients.

Rapid scanning of 400,000 square meters with the BLK2GO in an active hospital

Andrea had no experience with laser scanners, but that was no problem for him or his team. “When we tested the BLK2GO, it only took about 10 minutes for us to get up and running and for the entire team to be trained on using the instrument,” he said.

It is amazingly simple, yet it captures so much data in so little time and is incredibly easy for any of us to use.

After their initial testing, when they started with the BLK2GO, Natisoft went big: they scanned the Bosch Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, a hospital complex of approximately 40 buildings in Bologna, to see if they could save time by dramatically reducing their presence in the facility, especially during a pandemic. This project covered approximately 400,000 square meters in order to produce a comprehensive architectural and technical survey.

BLK2GO scan of Bosch Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova hospital

“This was the type of project that usually would present significant challenges to our team. If we’re taking measurements in an area where doctors are treating patients, we can’t get in the way and we must spend the absolute minimum amount of time in the space,” Andrea said.

“But the BLK2GO completely solved that problem. All we had to do was walk through the hospital buildings and we captured all the data so much faster,” Andrea said. “This completely changes our process and allows us to do so much more work in much less time and with almost no interruption to anyone else inside the space.” And the BLK2GO’s speed and simple, unobtrusive operation helped the Natisoft technicians stay safe inside the hospital.

BLK2GO scan of Bosch Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova hospital

BLK2GO eliminates mistakes for Natisoft’s measuring and capturing process

The next step in Natisoft’s workflow is to develop their plans and models, which require a significant amount of data. This can be complicated if any measurements or photos are missed. Sometimes, with manual measurement methods, some measurements are impossible to capture by hand. With the BLK2GO, that was no problem either.

“The second most important thing about using the BLK2GO to document these facilities is that the BLK2GO captures everything,” Mongelli said. “If we miss something, whether it’s a dimension or documenting the location of specific equipment, we don’t have to go back to get that. We can simply open up the point cloud and get whatever measurement we need.”

The BLK2GO also gives Andrea and his team peace of mind knowing that return trips to the site likely won’t be necessary. “We have the confidence knowing that we will capture everything with one walk-through of the space before we even start work on site,” he said. “This also gives the client confidence in our process and the results they’ll receive.”

BLK2GO detail images helps create key directories for facility management

When developing plans and models for clients, a very important part of Natisoft’s business is to geotag the exact location of specific types of equipment. This involves not only providing a photo of the equipment but the exact name, model number, and serial number of each piece of equipment. For property and facility managers, this is a key directory to help them find, organize, and plan to rearrange or retrofit spaces.

Plant point cloud data from BLK2GO

“Before we had the BLK2GO, we would manually take each photo and write down the information to then place into the proper position in our plans, and like with manual measurements, we might miss something,” Andrea said. With the Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova project, important equipment and other features were captured with detail images, taken by the BLK2GO’s simple point-and-shoot detail camera, to note their specific locations in the respective buildings.

With a huge 400,000 sq. meter project, Natisoft accomplished that while scanning and added those photos and annotations to the BLK2GO’s data and made no mistakes. Once BLK2GO data is uploaded into their Xiri platform, Natisoft can slice the BLK2GO’s point clouds to create individual floor plans, and then they add annotations to the floorplans to create that key directory.

2D Floorplan and key directory

“We still have to know the specific information of each piece of equipment, but because the BLK2GO can take individual high-resolution images while scanning, we can simply take photos of equipment as we walk through the facility and they will automatically be placed in the proper locations in the BLK2GO’s point cloud,” Andrea said.

Coupled with scanning while moving, the imaging capabilities of the BLK2GO make Natisoft process even easier and faster. But the third step for Natisoft is then to develop the final floorplans that are highly valuable and important to facility managers at Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova. These plans will be used for asset survey of the hospital buildings and the management of the facility on the entire hospital complex.

“When we come back to the office and look at the 3D data, we use Leica REGISTER 360 software to slice the point cloud and obtain the 2D floor plans we need,” Andrea said.

With all this data from one scanner, were able to get the three-dimensional measurements for our clients, the floor plans, and the key directories. It’s a much faster and more accurate process.

Student residences across Italy scanned by BLK2GO

When asked if the BLK2GO could provide other significant advantages for businesses like Natisoft and their clients, Andrea provided another example to illustrate exactly what those advantages are. “We work with Fondazione Ceur to provide floorplans of their student residences and dormitories, and those cover many cities in Italy. The project includes approximately 400 buildings, and we used the same approach with the student residences that we did with the hospital.”

This project was not as complicated as the hospital complex in Bologna, as it was a more simplified architectural survey to produce basic floorplans for individual apartments and residences. Once Natisoft technicians captured all the data needed from Fondazione Ceur, the same approach meant rapidly slicing BLK2GO point clouds to create floorplans in AutoCAD. Then the deliverables are accurate, simple, and clean floorplans for Fondazione Ceur to show to potential residents of their buildings.

“Again, with the BLK2GO we can scan apartments and dormitories in large buildings so much faster and with more accuracy, and even more so because this was not a technical project, but a simplified one for the purpose of real estate,” Andrea said. “But the amount of time we save on site, which could be hours, days, or weeks, plus the amount of time we save working in the office, made the BLK2GO a perfect fit for what we need to build our business and to give our clients the best results.”

3D model of an apartment building