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Singapore taps Lidar and laser scanning in remote building inspections

Singapore’s JTC and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) have successfully tested the use of reality capture technologies such as laser and Lidar (light detection and ranging) scanning to conduct Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) inspections at two industrial developments.

With the point cloud data – data points in a 3D coordinate system that represent the external surface of objects or environments – generated by such technologies, detailed inspections can be conducted remotely, eliminating the need for inspectors from technical authorities to be present onsite.

Lidar scanning was used for the first virtual TOP inspection at JTC Logistics Hub @ Gul while a 360-degree photo, also known as a panoramic photo, was used for the second inspection at the JTC semiconSpace project, facilitating virtual site walkthroughs.

The two projects received their TOP in May 2021 and October 2022, respectively, and since then, JTC and BCA have been working to develop virtual TOP guidelines for JTC projects that will pave the way for an industry framework for wider adoption.

Darren Lim, group director for audit and inspection at BCA, said: “Virtual TOP inspection makes the process more efficient, saving time for the industry and government agencies, and enabling manpower upskilling. BCA is developing a set of technical guidelines for virtual TOP requirements for the industry, learning from the experience of the pilot trials with JTC and other stakeholders.

Besides virtual TOP inspections, JTC is also using reality capture technologies in construction site management, where 360-degree images of construction sites are captured regularly to enable progress tracking, documentation and reporting by the site teams over time.

JTC’s initial trials showed potential manhour savings and productivity gains of up to 50% for industry players across the construction value chain, including developers, main contractors and sub-contractors. The reality capture technologies also provide JTC with better oversight of the whole construction site while improving accuracy and sharing of site information among project team members.

Tan Chee Kiat, group director for engineering at JTC, said: “As the public sector’s centre of excellence for building and infrastructure, JTC is continually working on digitising our construction processes. We are excited that the virtual TOP pilot is successful and look forward to implementing it for all JTC projects.

“This will support Singapore’s push for integrated digital delivery across the entire chain of the built environment. We will continue to explore smart technology inspection solutions that can help us better manage projects at JTC and the public sector,” he added.

JTC has launched a tender to procure reality capture technologies that will be used at all JTC-managed projects, enabling it to track the progress of building and construction projects, as well as to improve quality control and safety. It is also exploring other use cases such as facilities management and preliminary work surveys.

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