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Room in the Winthrop J. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

BLK2GO and Cromwell Speeds Up Construction for Patient Care Facilities at UAMS Medical Center

By Christopher Dollard


During the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction professionals who work on-site face difficulties with the need to maintain social distancing while performing hands-on work. When those professionals work in active healthcare facilities, the safety stakes become higher. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Medical Center in Little Rock already had plans for construction to increase patient care capacity prior to the pandemic and were able to accomplish this necessary task more quickly with the help of professionals who use handheld laser scanners.

UAMS hired design firm Cromwell Architects Engineers, Inc. to complete projects for them at the Winthrop J. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. John Wehmer, a BIM specialist with Cromwell, drone scanning pro, and BLK2GO operator, took the lead on scanning the UAMS project. Handheld scanning made his workflow a lot faster and lot safer.

aerial view of the Winthrop J. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

Photo by Dero

“Working with drones has been great because of all the detailed data we get very quickly for the external scanning of a building,” John said. “But in the past we have had a much slower process inside of buildings. Then I saw the BLK2GO and I was blown away by how fast it is. I knew this scanner could help us gain the speed we were looking for when scanning interiors.”

Fortunately for John and Cromwell’s clients, the BLK2GO came along at just the right time.

“We work with UAMS regularly and they requested us to report the progress of the space that is under construction,” he said. “I was able to do an initial walkthrough, scan the space and verify my scans all within three hours.”

John not only gained efficiency, but he also increased safety and reduced his time on-site.

Scanning large, active healthcare workspaces and maintaining social distancing

Let’s face it. For those of us who can work from home, we’re able to stay safe and keep our work moving forward through digital collaboration and communication. But for those of us that must get to active job sites for laser scanning, like John, maintaining social distancing may not always be possible. An active hospital during a pandemic is an imposing job site where safety is paramount and social distancing is a must.

Room inside the Winthrop J. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

Photo by Ken West

“We’ve mostly been doing healthcare projects with the BLK2GO,” John said. “Honestly, it’s been an amazing tool for healthcare projects during the pandemic because we want to spend as little time as possible in a high-risk facility.”

With that in mind, both John and UAMS were well-prepared for the project to take place.

“This was probably the least contact job I’ve done since March of 2020,” John said. “I never came within six feet of anyone.”

With the BLK2GO, specialists like John can work alone on laser scanning projects, and they can work much faster.

“I didn’t need to carry a tripod or wait for each individual scan to finish,” John said. “Because I was going to spend much less time scanning with the BLK2GO than with a tripod-based scanner, I had time to walk through each floor and plan how I’d walk through it with the BLK2GO.”

BLK2GO scan data of hospital

It was very easy for John to plan his scan quickly to make sure he knew his route through the space ahead of time. He made notes about which spaces are open and easy to scan versus other spaces that are more complicated and required a bit more time.

Scanning with the BLK2GO is a pretty straightforward process. You turn it on, let the scanner initialize, and then walk through the space you need to scan. Like tripod-based laser scanners, you have to keep people out of the field of view while scanning—which means that social distancing is built into the process.

In the three hours it took John to scan, he covered three floors, nearly 100,000 square feet, and kept safe while working alone.

Of all the advantages the BLK2GO offers, it’s speed. Scanning and BIM to create floorplans for projects this size can take weeks with traditional scanners. But now we have accurate scans in a fraction of the time.

Colorful 3D scan

Speed of capture and data workflow helps communities build healthcare infrastructure

It’s impossible to understate how important this kind of work is for healthcare facilities right now. And more healthcare clients have requested this service from Cromwell since October of 2020. Clearly there’s an advantage here with the BLK2GO’s speed—in more ways than one.

“Across the board, the top gain is speed. And that’s speed in many forms,” John said. “Sometimes an architect might come to my desk with a big project and ask if there any way I can get out and scan a project that same week. And it’s no problem for me—I just pick up the bag with the BLK2GO in it, carve out a few hours, and scan the space. Even how we can transport the device, how simple it is to use—that all creates more and more speed without sacrificing accuracy.”

And the BLK2GO’s speed has an impact on workflows down the line, all the way to the deliverable.

“The floorplans are the most important thing for many of our clients—they can plan their spaces easily and quickly, and we can re-scan over time to show them how the spaces have changed,” John said. “More often than not, I’ll use the TruSlicer tool to slice out a lot of 2D floorplans so that our design teams can hit the ground running.”

colorful floorplan slice TruView

John also performs timeline scans—he’ll scan a space, produce the deliverable floorplan, and then go back later and scan again after his clients have modified their spaces.

“They really like seeing how things change over time, and it helps them to better understand their spaces and structures and how they can better use them,” John said.

And, because the BLK2GO gives John a lot more speed in his workflow, it’s easier to create those deliverables for clients.

Now that pressure on the healthcare industry is dramatically increased, John’s work with Cromwell provides invaluable resources for healthcare facilities. The BLK2GO allows him to maintain social distance while working, which keeps everyone involved safe. And Cromwell’s quick production of floorplans helped UAMS speed up their construction to increase patient care capacity. In challenging times, Cromwell’s work proves to be a valuable contribution to their community.

Room inside the Winthrop J. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

Photo by Ken West

Header photo by Ken West