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Leica BLK360

Increased Efficiency and Productivity with OLAAR Architects and the New BLK360

By Christopher Dollard


OLAAR Architects is a digital architecture firm in Stuttgart, Germany, and they were one of the first Leica BLK360 G1 customers back in 2017. In business for ten years, OLAAR uses the BLK360 two to three times per week to capture site conditions for all their projects. And Janis Hauber at OLAAR was one of their first users of the BLK360 G1. 

OLAAR works across architecture disciplines – retrofits, redesigns, and pretty much everything else that an architecture firm could provide. One of their biggest areas of expertise is providing laser scanning services for their customers.

Over the years, OLAAR has built up pride in their work due to the BLK360 G1’s capabilities and its benefits for their business. “We kind of do everything,” Hauber said. “Commercial, residential, industrial, buildings large and small, ranging from houses to large schools, apartments, and similar buildings.”

From the start, time savings was one of the biggest benefits of using the BLK360 G1. “The time savings with the BLK360 G1 were huge and helped push us ahead of our competition. And the most important thing is that we only need to scan through a site once to capture everything we need. Everything the scanner can see, we have it in the office,” Hauber said. The benefits of 3D laser scanning OLAAR’s customers clearly see the benefits of 3D laser scanning. They’ve usually never seen point clouds before, but they’ve always been satisfied with the plans that are derived from the point clouds. “If we are on-site with the customer, and we’re starting to scan, they always ask a lot of questions about the device and how it works,” Hauber said. “Not many people know how this works, and they’re very interested in the entire process.”

This is typically known as the “cool factor” when newcomers approach 3D laser scanning – especially the first time they see a point cloud – but once the customers know what the scanner and OLAAR provide, there’s no better solution for capturing all measurements and images needed for a project in 3D.

Another benefit is that, at OLAAR, every staff member can scan because of the ease of use of both the BLK360 G1 and the all-new BLK360, with only minimal training needed. The primary use of the data is for BIM (Building Information Modeling) processes, but prior to the BLK360 G1, nobody was using BIM at OLAAR. “It was never needed,” Hauber said, “until we realized the potential of the BLK360 G1. Now BIM is our primary use of BLK360 data.”

One of the largest projects we had was to capture an entire school. What would’ve taken days with other types of measurements, especially manual measurements – which could even take weeks – we did it in one day. It was remarkable,

Hauber said.

Need for speed: enter the all-new BLK360 Now, OLAAR is testing an all-new BLK360 scanner to gain even more speed and save even more time with 3D laser scanning. “It’s really fast,” Hauber said. “Simply put, the speed, being five times faster, is what we need to digitize many properties and spaces quickly and accurately.”

The time savings, as mentioned before, are exactly what OLAAR needs – five times faster is quite a leap forward. And while OLAAR is still getting used to the new workflow, they expect to use the new BLK360 regularly for their projects.

“We scanned a large, old building recently for a job, and it was approximately 60 scans, with about 200 square meters of space to scan. Every room was very small, so we needed to do a lot of scans,” Hauber said. “But like I’ve said before, it’s five times faster, and we were on site for probably half a day, which was great. Otherwise, we would’ve needed at least a day and a half, if not more, to complete the job.”

OLAAR’s customer wants to build a new structure behind this building, and then reuse the old building, which OLAAR scanned, for apartments. It is an old and damaged building, but the new BLK360 scans and the plans derived from them will help the customer in converting the old building into new apartments with 2D floor plans created from BIM by OLAAR.

Building Sideview

“Again, the most significant improvement with the new BLK360 is its speed. It is smaller, weighs less, and is easier to carry around on job sites and transport to and from sites,” Hauber said. “The BLK Live app also allows us to see what’s going on in real time. But again, the time savings are just awesome.” Changes to workflow Because of the introduction of BIM processes to OLAAR’s documentation deliverables, their workflow changed significantly over their six years of using the BLK360 G1. “For example, if we’re doing construction on an existing building, we can put together a model of that building so much faster than if we were to draw it ourselves. The time savings, again, are terrific,” Hauber said. “It took some time to learn how to work with point clouds, to gain that experience, but we’ve learned how to use point clouds very well.”

OLAAR also uses Leica Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS for their downstream data workflow. “It’s better than what we used before,” Hauber said. “Registration of scans is easier, you get a top-down view that helps, so if, for example, scans are too far away from each other, with Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS, it’s simply easier to get everything aligned and registered.”

We’ll check back in with OLAAR to see how their work with the new BLK360 continues, but they’re quite impressed with the new laser scanner so far. Time savings, boosting productivity, and gaining more efficiency in their workflow was a top priority, and the new BLK360 is a solution. For their first project, the outcome was superb, and we’re excited to see what they do next.