Scan to BIM

Share this Articles
Scan to BIM

With Building Information Modelling (BIM) being at the forefront of the digital revolution taking place in the Architecture, Engineering and construction (AEC)  industry, fast and reliable data capture of physical surroundings has become more important than ever. Quickly digitising our surroundings and producing accurate 3D models leads to many new applications and workflows for construction analysis, design and visualisation. The best available technology for the aforementioned digitisation is LIDAR (Light detection and ranging) or in simpler terms, terrestrial laser scanning. Taking the resulting point cloud though to a BIM deliverable is a term known as Scan to BIM

What is Scan To BIM?

Scan to BIM is a method that integrates laser scanning technology with BIM to create reliable and accurate models which can be of great use throughout an assets lifecycle. It starts with capturing a building or an asset of interest via the use of a laser scanner. The multiple laser scanner generated point clouds are then processed to create a globally consistent point cloud which will  then be modelled in 3D BIM software.

What is BIM?

At its most basic level BIM is a digital representation of a building’s physical and functional features, consisting of a 3D model and associated data that means model information can go beyond just a graphical representation. For existing buildings the first step in creating a BIM model is to capture and digitise the physical characteristics. By integrating BIM with laser scanners we can ensure that models produced are precise and based on real world features thus enabling informed decision making that will last throughout the assets lifecycle. See our article on BIM fundamentals for more information.


Benefits of Scan to BIM

  • Enhanced accuracy: Scanning captures precise, real-world data, resulting in highly accurate digital models that reduce the risk of errors and rework during design and construction phases.
  • Time and cost savings: The process of collecting data and creating BIM models through scanning is more efficient than traditional surveying methods, leading to significant time and cost reductions for projects.
  • Improved collaboration: Scan to BIM provides a centralised, data-rich model that can be easily shared and updated among project stakeholders, fostering better communication and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Streamlined workflows: With accurate and up-to-date information at their disposal, architects, engineers, and contractors can optimise their design and construction workflows, making project delivery more efficient.
  • Informed decision-making: Scan to BIM allows project teams to analyse the data-rich models for various aspects, such as structural integrity, energy efficiency, and maintenance requirements, enabling better decision-making and planning at every stage of the project.

Why is it called scan to BIM?

Scanning has a whole host of use cases. From picking up detail for the creation of topographic surveys to creating surface meshes that can be used to monitor structure movement or degradation. The scan to BIM process is unique in that certain factors and frameworks effect the way the survey will be carried out. For example, BIM LOD (level of detail) specifications will determine what level of detail, accuracy and other criteria the survey will need to meet. If the resulting BIM model is only required to meet LOD 100 requirements (Mass Model with very limited detail) then the survey methodology will need to be adjusted accordingly. Additionally, with the UK government BIM mandate which came into force in 2016 and the detailed ISO 19650 international standards, we are required to use standardised workflows, deliver models in specific formats and software, and carry out the correct QC which ultimately all make up the scan to BIM process/service.

I’m getting a Scan to BIM survey done, is there anything I should be aware of?

Todays technological innovations have completely transformed the survey industry. With a laser scanner we can capture data so much more efficiently than before, removing the arduous process of manually observing and measuring things point by point. But, this has led to a false sense of security. It’s very easy for someone to go out with a scanner, press a button and capture a point cloud. Thus, manufacturers of scanners have been promoting their use cases to just about anyone. The issue is errors in point clouds are very easy to miss. This results in architects, engineers and stakeholders working with inaccurate data, hurting the project, wasting time and ultimately hurting the survey profession. Only use certified professionals and seek QA and QC assurances.

Need a consultation? Get in touch