On May 13 – 17 2019, the Visual Plan team was asked to 360° Capture our largest project to date, the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando FL by Marriott. With roughly 2Msf of indoor area and double that in courtyards and parking spaces over a stretch of 65 acres, it was a very large project with only 5 days onsite to get the job done.
In the planning stages, we struggled to receive building diagrams to help assess our approach, estimate time, number of photos and time to capture. Less than two weeks from arrival on site, we finally gathered Revit files 2D and 3D of the property through the local architect. Later we learned that the main issue with the hotel is that they had over 2300 CAD files but were not sure which was current. The hotel also lacked the CAD software to open many of the file formats. This is one area where Visual Plan really helps by offering a platform where anyone can view both imagery and CAD diagrams without any software or training.
Our project manager, Paul, printed, sectioned and assigned the building plans for capture to our field team. We did a quick walk through one floor of the building we expected to have some issues with. The field team would capture data, then report back to Paul to transfer data and grab a fresh SD card. Due to the speed of capture, Paul quickly learned that the data was coming in much faster than it was organized and uploaded. Luckily, the hotel had extremely good wireless bandwidth so data was uploading quickly, just not quick enough.
360° Image Capture Process
Capture was completed with MADV 360° Camera’s www.madv360.com which retail for about $300 USD, with a 10cm ¼” riser, or 10’ monopod pole configuration for parking lot and outdoor areas. We all had external batteries connected to our camera to prevent downtime. We also had a charging station with extra phones and batteries. (See the video below for Capture process)
We did experience a few minor issues with the MADV App. I would recommend turning off all other 3rd party Apps and notifications when doing capture or having a dedicated phone/iPad for the capture process when doing large projects. A tablet is ideal, especially if diagrams are pre-scaled and loaded in our new Visual Plan 2.0 App. Carrying a printed map while doing the documentation was not ideal.
Each field technician approached the image capture a little differently. As a result, the project manager, at times found it difficult to understand what exact areas were captured. Many of the hallways have repeated geometry and look identical.
Better replanting and doing a complete site walkthrough would have been ideal to prevent sections being captured twice or overlooked. We did miss areas like hidden stairways and a few areas that required recapture. Fortunately, we took the time to ensure key unique features were identified, such as room number placards and signage and when importing the data to the map it was clear what we had and did not have captured. The speed of capture afforded us time to review and understand any mistakes, so we could troubleshoot onsite. We were surprised at how quickly certain areas came together and on day 3 felt confident we would finish on time to present key sections to the hotel administration on day five.
Learning from this it was clear that more pre-planning and immediate upload by the field technician would have been a more desirable workflow. This would reduce time spent transferring data, re-organizing sections and reduce the chance of unintentionally capturing the same area twice by mistake.
Even more important was the need for an automated process to locate and scale the images to the pre-scaled floor plans, which would significantly reduce manual efforts to re-align data after the capture process. This would have been a serious time saver!
As a result of these lessons, the new Visual Plan 2.0 (releasing in Q4 2019) will have some phenomenal new organizational workflows allowing us to pre-name buildings, various sections, upload multiple floor plans per floor/section and assign milestones to specific field technicians so they know exactly what they need to capture, and what is already completed. More time upfront in pre-planning will now save us 10X the time on alignment.
In the back of house areas, we decided to scan the corridors first and later come back to shoot HVAC and Electrical rooms with the security team as we did not have immediate access. This was a mistake that cost us time as breaking the project down too small led to unnecessary extra alignments. Moving forward, Visual Plan 2.0 will have a unique feature to drop location pins to geo-reference Panos as they are taken, removing the need for any manual alignment later. The new App will allow immediate upload and origin location over the pre-scaled floor plan or to record the movement through the space using the phone’s AR. This significantly helps with automated alignment once the Panos are uploaded.
Throughout the project, many vendors stopped us to ask what we were doing. A landscaping company was photographing before and after changes they had just completed; another vendor was measuring locations to hang objects from the ceiling and others asked if the data could be used for other purposes. It was pleasing to learn how applicable the visual capture would be to various stakeholders after completed. We even found some safety hazards requiring immediate attention in difficult to reach areas, like the broken handrail on top of the Atrium in the image below.
The hotel GM, Engineering and Security teams were very impressed that we were able to show a large portion of the captured data by Friday of that same week, and event test the VR walk-through of their facility.
Returning to the hotel a few weeks after capture, it was great to see the engineering team with Visual Plan open on their phones where the data was already being used for operations. Having all assets documented for maintenance teams to review is also valuable, in addition to the value of having documentation for insurance purposes, should it be needed.
Approaching the project with multiple field technicians, we soon learned some important workflows. When capturing an area with 2 people, its best to start each from the opposite side of the section and work toward each other. Also, sectioning off spaces in clusters of about 400 Panos was ideal because the larger pano groups were easy to align, as long as the geometry logically permitted.
Once the Panos were imported and aligned, you could clearly see errors with the existing drawings. This is where our Sketch tool could come in handy to redraw areas that need attention. Or, quick measurements can be extracted to confirm as-built conditions match CAD, and changes can be made during the comparison.
Value to the Risk Assessment Process
Upon the hotel reviewing the security consultants’ risk assessment report (J Kelly Stewart), various stakeholders had questions about key assets. By having the Visual Plan Digital Twin, these questions were efficiently addressed by referring to the as-built capture to confirm assumptions without further site visits.
The hotel also requested a review of the hotel fire systems after our team had left the buildings. And here is where the value of investing in Visual Plan starts to pay off as virtual inspection and assessment can be done, at least in part, without a physical walk-through, travel, and additional costs.
I expect that the 360° Capture will prove invaluable over time, especially on such a massive property were multiple people from various departments need to confirm building information on a daily basis. Walking 15min each way to confirm a single detail that is only a mouse click away has a multiplying effect on efficiency. Just imagine how many people do this every single day.
We are already working on the planning for the next hotel project and likely revisiting Gaylord Palms for additional training and technology transfer to include departments like marketing. We are testing the new developments of Visual Plan 2.0 and Mobile App and are excited about the workflow improvements which will reduce time and produce a better result.
Kelly Watt | CEO & Founder of Visual Plan Inc.
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