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Laser scanner surveys in the construction industry – 8 fields of application

The laser scanner survey in construction is used to detect a structure in a safer, faster and more efficient way. Here are the 8 main fields of application

In any type of architectural project, whether it is a new construction, a renovation or a conservative recovery, the building survey is certainly the first step to be taken to:

  • determine the geometric and technical characteristics of an existing building in case of intervention on it or the morphology of the ground and the surrounding conditions in case of new constructions;
  • create an as-built model to obtain appropriate views (graphical representations);
  • evaluate the design choices directly on the model.

To produce a building survey, advanced digital techniques are common, such as photogrammetry or 3D laser scanning. The data from these digitally relevant surveying technologies allows us to start the “Scan to BIM” process, the result of which is a detailed and precise BIM model of the existing one.

To easily create BIM models from the point cloud obtained with the laser scanner, I recommend using a free point cloud to BIM software.

But first, let’s explore what laser scanner building surveys are and find out how they improve our way of detecting and designing.

What is a laser survey?

A Laser scanner survey is a specific type of survey generated from a 3D laser scanner, which currently represents the most innovative type of 3D detection.

A laser scanner survey is a reliable method for dimensional and technical data of a built environment; as it allows a considerable amount of data to be processed in a short time and with just a few basic resources.

The 3D laser scanner carries out a real scan of the building in the form of a dense cloud of points, which is imported into 3D BIM software with the aim of creating as-built models, i.e. BIM models that accurately describe the state of the facts, the construction as realized.

In this way, a designer can optimize time and costs of a survey, access places that are difficult to detect and manage complete models from the early stages of acquisition.


Work with laser scanner


8 main fields of application of laser scanner survey in construction

The use of laser scanners in surveys in the construction sector involves many fields; below you will find a list of the main ones:

  1. architecture and new constructions: 3D laser scanning is used to perform accurate dimensional surveys, quickly and economically. The obtained data allows to generate a cloud of points that will then be used to build the three-dimensional model with surfaces, volumes, views and finally complete as-built models. 3D laser solutions avoid data reprocessing, identifying errors already in the early stages of design;
  2. preservation of cultural heritage: laser scanning also allows you to document, analyse and monitor monuments or historic buildings. The 3D point clouds obtained can be studied to identify all the possible risks to which the structures could be exposed; in particular, photos, orthophotos, 360° photos constitute the basis for the analysis of degradation. All data can also be stored digitally in such a way as to create a digital archive;
  3. design of industrial buildings: production plants, machinery and equipment can also be detected when the machinery is working, as laser scanning is carried out without contact. In this way it is easy to investigate the plants to optimize production and expand production capacities;
  4. design of civil infrastructures: laser scanning is a very reliable and safe method to manage both the creation of new bridges, railways, motorways, airports and the survey of existing infrastructure to plan restructuring interventions;
  5. urban planning: detecting the built environment with 3D laser scanners and converting them into models of the various urban areas simplifies the digitization of the built environment. It also optimizes the development of services and the city itself;
  6. maintenance of energy and electrical systems: power plants are definitely unsafe environments, but at the same time require constant maintenance to always remain as efficient as possible. A Laser scanner survey is the best solution for capturing data while maintaining the right safety distance;
  7. control and management of chemical industries: containers, pipes, warehouses and refineries are detected without contact and without the aid of support scaffolding;
  8. naval and aircraft architecture: detecting aircraft or ships is much easier with the use of a 3D laser scanner; the geometries of complex structures and mechanical parts are correctly detected and quickly transformed into digital 3D models to be used without errors.

If you are taking the first steps with 3D laser scanner surveying workflows, you often deal with specific BIM processes aimed at managing large existing infrastructures, historical and monumental heritage data acquisitions or still if you are in the design field, why not rely on a point cloud to BIM software, a powerful tool that helps in transforming your point cloud into a complete information model in just a few steps.