Heber engineering company scans and conquers

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HEBER -- An archeological dig, a traffic accident, a pipeline and a building renovation - what do they all have in common? Turns out, each have ties to a small engineering firm in Heber City.

Summit Engineering uses three-dimensional laser scanning for all sorts of projects across the country. It's a small gadget, called the Skandit, that mounts on the top of a tripod. Within minutes, the device begins to rotate, scanning and photographing everything in sight -- recording millions of data points every second.

"Once we get the laser data and the photo data, we can marry the two and create a 3-D color image of millions and millions of points," said Summit principal and vice president, Brian Balls.

Once we get the laser data and the photo data, we can marry the two and create a 3-D color image of millions and millions of points.

–Brian Balls

Summit Engineering is one of a handful of companies now offering 3D Laser services for its clients.

The Skandit was used to make images of a section of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah. Geology students are studying the rock layers on those cliffs for potential energy resources.

"They're going to take this data and use it and study it to find and hopefully develop better ways to mine natural gas out of these rocks," said Balls.

At the site of the Provo Tabernacle, which burned two years ago, LDS historians knew the foundation of the original building was still buried. After it was located and excavated, the 3D scanner was brought in and produced these images. Knowing that the old foundation would be removed to make way for the new temple, these pictures now preserve the history of the site.

"We went in and scanned every detail of that foundation so when it had to be removed, we now have a digital record of exactly what it looked like," said Balls. "We could actually put it back, stone for stone, if we had to."

These finished images are very convenient for the clients. If the geologists, for example, need more information about the San Juan site, they don't have to return to the remote area -- it's all right there on a computer screen.

Law enforcement agencies are also using this technology for accident reconstruction. By scanning this vehicle and measuring the crushed metal, it can be determined how fast the oncoming car was moving when the collision occurred.

Other sites that Summit has scanned include a pipeline repair project in Mississippi, where the scanner was used to make sure all measurements are exact, down to a millimeter. Summit also scanned and preserved a huge Fremont Indian ruin site near Goshen, Utah after its discovery.

"I think as time goes on, we're going to see applications that we never thought about being able to be utilized," said Balls.

Summit Engineering has been in Heber City since 2001, providing engineering and surveying services to clients around the country.


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