About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents

Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By

Product Reviews
Partner Sites







Spatial Media LLC properties




Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Whole Trees Print E-mail
Written by Mitch Caya   
Friday, 24 March 2017

A 6.031Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

The benefit of a low-cost, light-weight sensor like the Optech Maverick is its flexibility. The Maverick can profitably handle small projects while more expensive sensors usually stick to large-scale surveys. These smaller jobs are often particularly unique and interesting.

One of Maverick's most interesting projects came from an organization that was interested in profiling tree structures with lidar. WholeTrees is a Wisconsin-based company that engineers cost-efficient, sustainable structural systems for commercial and residential buildings by using whole trees. Their goal was to evaluate and determine the potential use of low or no-value trees, which are culled from sustainably managed forests.

In this case, WholeTrees wanted to use lidar technology to scan trees in a local park for use in the construction of a grocery store in Madison, Wisconsin. The targets were urban ash trees that needed to be removed due to an Emerald Ash Borer infestation.

The Emerald Ash Borer is an exotic and destructive beetle from Asia that feeds on the spongy layer of tissue just beneath the bark of ash trees. They destroy the tree's ability to move nutrients back and forth from the roots to the rest of the tree. Once infected by the Emerald Ash Borer, the living part of the tree starves and eventually dies.

The City of Madison Forestry Unit concluded that a certain number of ash trees in Tenney Park had been infected and needed to be removed to slow the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. Instead of destroying the infected trees, WholeTrees provided a solution by suggesting that they be cut down while still structurally intact and used in the construction of a new building. Their plan was to use the entire tree rather than having it chopped, mulched or milled, thereby retaining the tree's natural strength (50% stronger than a comparably sized milled timber).

WholeTrees required highly accurate measurements of the trees to ensure they would fit into the construction blueprints of a new building. In the past, WholeTrees would cut down trees they were interested in integrating into a project, bring them to their warehouse, and then individually scan them. This was a complicated, inefficient, and time consuming method that sometimes led to a wasted effort. To make the process economically feasible, they needed a solution that would save time and resources without sacrificing accuracy.

Data Collection with Maverick
The proposed solution was to use the Maverick, a portable mobile mapping system that combines high-resolution 360 degree imaging, high-definition lidar, and an integrated position and orientation system to provide a robust and multi-functional dataset that WholeTrees could use to identify which trees would suit their purposes.

Once permission was granted by the City of Madison Parks Department, Maverick operators drove a RAV4 equipped with the Maverick through Tenney Park and collected data for each tree of interest. The collection was performed by driving on bike paths at low speeds throughout the designated harvest region of the park. Since it was a dense area, the collection was completed in less than one hour. Multiple passes were made to ensure a redundancy of data was collected for the best possible post-processed results.

Data Processing
The data from Maverick was run through the Distillery software package, thus preparing it for use within a variety of third party viewing, post-processing, or reduction software.

The team used STOUT, a specialized reduction software created by Floating Point FX, to identify and isolate the individual trees that would become the candidates for the WholeTrees process. The point clouds created for each tree of interest were then scrubbed by removing the leaves and small branches so they could be measured for their structural potential before being chosen for the project. STOUT exported polygon meshes of each tree for delivery. WholeTrees used their proprietary evaluation process that included software developed in-house to determine the structural integrity and engineering potential of each tree before bringing them to their factory for implementation.

With the Maverick, the collection process was much more time efficient and cost effective. Eventually, WholeTrees hopes to create an inventory of trees that can be harvested as needed. According to WholeTrees co-founder, Roald Gundersen, "We're developing an online catalogue of trees, from urban and rural forests, which can be pre-engineered, and made available to foresters for posting trees for sale, and building professionals as a new structural design medium."

Festival Foods was the first grocer to use round-timber columns, beams, and trusses as an engineered structural system. The 57,000 square foot structure used 30 to 40 tons of urban ash trees saved from the City of Madison. The entire project is one of the most unique applications we've seen so far, and shows that small jobs are an important niche for the Maverick.

Mitch Caya has been employed by Mandli Communications since 2004. Now the Sales and Marketing Manager, Mitch has helped oversee the overall growth of Mandli in the lidar market and has personally been involved in many statewide projects and Maverick projects like WholeTrees.

A 6.031Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Thought Leader: Land is Too Important to Be Left to Land Specialists
A while back I was searching the Internet for an old treatise on land titles. A Google query yielded a book published in 1914. The author was Charles Claudius Kagey and the book was titled "Land Survey and Land Titles, a book for boys and girls, a reference volume for property owners, a text ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Wacker vs. Price - Irony in Sevenfold
This month's case takes us to Phoenix, Arizona in 1950. The Arizona Supreme Court went all guns-a-blazin' in Wacker vs. Price (216 P.2d 707 (Ariz. 1950)). Maybe it's just me, but I'm sensing plenty of irony and have taken license to point it out along the way. I like what the Court did with this case ....
Read the Article
Allen E. Cheves 
Around the Bend - A Visit to Carlson Software
The Ohio River is one of America's greatest, running near 1,000 miles between Pittsburgh and the Mighty Mississippi. Much of the coal and other products that fueled our nation's industrial expansion flowed between the shores of this maritime ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Surveying & Mapping Economics Part 3 - Customers & Services
This article continues an inquiry into the economic conditions of the Surveying and Mapping industry (NAICS 541370) using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This time we will look at customers and services. The data comes from the Economic Census conducted every 5 years on American ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
True Elevation: Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak, located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, is the state's highest natural point. It is frequently referred to as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Two other peaks, Guadalupe Peak in Texas and ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Bringing The Goods - Mobile Scanning an Integral Component
When Jim Smith, Jerrad Burns and Charlie Patton left the Memphis division of a major construction company in 2015, they took with them the knowledge of how to get even the most complex jobs done and what equipment could best serve them in making that happen. So when they joined West ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Test Yourself 41: Integers, Integers, and Integers
ABF is a 5:12:13 triangle, ACF is a 48:55:73 triangle, ADF is a 3:4:5 triangle, and AEF is a 7:24:25 triangle, all with integer sides and inscribed in a semi-circle. What are the lengths of BC, CD, and DE? ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Sunset or Sunrise?
While we often think of legislated government programs as static, they do change over time. Such evolution and opportunity for transformation are part of the dialogue in reauthorizing these programs. Every so many years there is a sunset on each government program, and this September is the ....
Read the Article


Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
contact Amerisurv


Trimble Announces
Alloy RTN Receiver

press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content


News Feeds

Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.


Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 



The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-695-1538 - fax