Construction site worker

What is Laser Scanning Technology?

December 18, 2019

Laser scanning technology captures the spatial detail of an existing building, via the collection of millions of individual measurements which form to create a 3D representation of the area being surveyed. Laser scanning is our preferred choice of technology, offering a fast, precise and unobtrusive way to carry out all manual work without disturbance to the fabric of the building, or disrupting occupants.

There are two main types of laser scanners: phase based laser scanners, and pulse-based laser scanners. Phase based scanners work by comparing the phase wavelength shift between the returning pulse and the stored pulse to determine the distance the beam has travelled. These type of laser scanners are faster.

Pulse based scanners, also known as time of flight scanners, calculate distances by the time taken for a pulse to reach an object and return. Whilst not as fast, these are normally favoured when measuring longer ranges.

What are the benefits of laser scanning technology?

Because laser scanning technology can be remotely operated, the time needed on-site is dramatically reduced. As such, it’s a particularly ideal choice for challenging projects, whether that be because of access restrictions or time constraints, for example.

Accuracy and speed are also key advantages to using laser scanners, making them popular for areas of high detail that would otherwise be extremely time-consuming.

This in turn makes them an efficient and cost-effective method of building surveying.

At South West Surveys, we use faro 3D laser scanners in order to complete work to the highest of standards. This top of the range equipment allows us to scan in challenging environments, protecting against elements such as dust, debris and water splashes. The HDR camera captures detailed images, providing balanced colour even in bright conditions.

What is it used for?

We use laser scanning technology across our work with a spectrum of clients such as architects, town planners, consulting engineers and surveyors, but it’s also a technology that’s adopted across a variety of industries.

It’s also used at various stages of a project. In the context of building surveying, laser scanning might be used in a pre-construction survey for confirming existing site conditions, detailing areas such as facades and damage. It can also be used to check how a building is progressing against the original proposed designs. Upon completion of construction, laser scans will be used to verify that the building matches the agreed plans, analysing both the building itself and its interiors.

It’s also suitable for projects of all sizes. At South West Surveys, we’ve used laser scanning technology on everything from residential extensions to highly prestigious heritage projects.

The data that is collected by these scans can then be used to produce rectified images, 2D and 3D CAD drawings.

Laser scanning is especially prevalent as part of the BIM process. Laser scanning allows us to capture the current state of the building, quickly and accurately, then from these scans we can create BIM-ready models which can be used as a foundation for any BIM project (building information modelling).

How accurate is 3D scanning?

3D scanning is extremely accurate and can scan to an accuracy of between 0.01mm and 0.1mm to produce an extremely close model of a building or space. This creates crisp and high quality images to work from for your project or compare to your original plan as progress develops.

Accuracy is obviously very important, particularly in construction, and 3D scanning gives one of the best opportunities to gain accurate measurements. It can also be completed quickly, helping to get results and measurements fast so your project does not face delay and can be a realistic method of planning and project management.

With 3D scanning we can produce an extremely accurate image of your building, product or landscape that can help you plan efficiently and spot any details that could or would affect your project. To see examples of our work, simply get in touch.

What is 3D laser scanning in construction?

In construction, accuracy is key, whether your building from scratch or adding to an existing structure, it is this accuracy that prevents expensive mistakes or issues down the line. Over recent years, 3D scanning has become an extremely popular and useful tool for construction work to create accurate plans, aid architects in their work and allow project managers to keep tabs on progress against plans. In fact, research shows it’s use on site is going up by 15% each year. Construction was the biggest leader of the growth in 3D laser scanning with the biggest demand driver being the requirement of the new capabilities associated with 3D technology.

This tool creates high accuracy scans in a short amount of time which can be used to provide accurate models and plans to work from. While it has been used in construction and engineering since the 1990s, it is just now booming in popularity, 30 years later.

In construction it can provide many benefits such as avoiding issues between different systems such as plumbing and electricity an air conditioning, allowing for remote coordination between project leaders and helping to document milestones along the construction process to share with stakeholders.


Why use laser scanning technology?

Laser scanning technology is a fast and accurate way of capturing the spatial detail of an existing building. It enables the user to scan areas of high detail, in which would otherwise be an extremely time-intensive process.

Because laser scanning is remotely operated, it’s an ideal way to undertake all manual work without disturbance to the fabric of the building or disrupting its residents. Put simply, it’s fast, precise, unobtrusive and cost-effective.

What is laser scanning used for?

Laser scanning is a method of developing 3D scans that’s used across a range of industries. Within property and construction, it is often used to produce models of building elevations, floor plans, or for mapping topography. It’s most effective in situations where very detailed and accurate 3D measurements need to be created, as well as for projects where access on-site is problematic, for example because of time constraints or restricted access.

How does laser scanning technology work?

Laser scanning technology works by digitally capturing the shape of physical objects, such as buildings, using a line of laser light. Two sets of information are combined to create what is known as a Point Cloud – this is the data from the laser light being shone on the object, and the data from another sensor, which is usually either one moving camera, or two stationary ones. 3D laser scanning technology then stitches this data together to determine the measurements of the object in question.

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