Just a week or so ago I held the amazing Leica BLK360 in my hands for the very first time. Although it is by far the lightest terrestrial laser scanner ever it felt rock solid. What isn’t so rock solid however, is my opinion about what this scanner will mean to us. And by us, I mean land surveying professionals used to working according to the highest standards. Will this product be a game changer, disrupting in the laser scanner market or will it die a silent death?
When I decided to write my blog about the BLK360 (what does BLK stand for? Maybe Beautiful Little Kreature? Or Baby Looking Keen?) I did have my own thoughts, but I was anxious to know what others were thinking about it too.
I thought this new product was definitely worthy of some writing. I entered the world of laser scanning myself in the year 2000, when the Cyrax2500 was a desirable piece of equipment. It was designed to fit through a manhole, could be operated from a laptop and required a ton of batteries. It could scan a window of 1000×1000 points with a field of view of 40×40 degrees. And that only took 17 minutes!
I could point out the specifications that show the BLK360 to be a poor choice. Accuracy, speed, resolution; all not so impressive when compared to “the beast”, the Leica Scanstation P40. But the potential of its HDR-cameras, the IMU that measures the trajectory between 2 scans, the thermal camera, and the one-button operation in combination with the low-end pricing is unprecedented! There is also the ability to scan directly from the new Leica app or ReCap360, register on the fly and be able to deliver (partial) point clouds to the office before even finishing the onsite job. I say: this is new, this is different, this is exciting!
It is hard for me to say, as I always go for the highest accuracy and best quality, but I think the BLK360 is a game changer. It is going to be disruptive. It will bring laser scanning to a larger audience, which is great, but it will also affect those of us working with P40’s and high-end total stations, like the TS30/50/60. Our scans, that will absolutely have a higher accuracy, will be more expensive to collect while many of our customers won’t be able to tell the difference. I was silently hoping that BLK360 scans would look poor, but that is definitely not the case. They look just fine.
I think we should embrace the BLK360 for the new opportunities it opens. We can now offer thermal inspections, which is really an added value, especially for those that aren’t climate change deniers (wink)!
Here are some quotes I collected yesterday:
“I’m looking forward to see it at work” – crime scene investigator
“Give me one: no more back pain when travelling” – Industrial Surveyor
“For my line of work the accuracy is insufficient” – Owner at Interior Engineering firm
“Not in the short term, we have plenty alternative options already” – COO at service provider
“I will order a couple!” – Owner at a service provider
The BLK360 and the way it works are considered groundbreaking by most of the people I spoke to. It is a relatively cheap scanner that offers new opportunities. It also comes in the right moment in time. Right now more renovations and conversions than ever before are being carried out and that’s where the BLK360 will be at its best.
Innovations Manager at Ingenieursbureau Coenradie BV
Sander Schröder is Innovation Manager at Coenradie Surveying (service provider in land surveying, HDS and metrology) in the Netherlands. He has 30 years of experience in pushing equipment and software to and beyond their limits. He possesses well-developed analytical capabilities to use and combine multiple systems to achieve far more than the intended use of product. His tutorial and coaching skills ensure that his knowledge is shared within and beyond his organisation.