You may have noticed that we have introduced surveying services recently as part of our work with the construction industry. Or you may have seen Craig, our Survey Manager, on site with his 3D laser scanner.

If you’ve been reading our blogs or following us on social media, then you may also have come across the term ‘Scan to BIM’ – but what does it mean exactly, and how does it work?

What is BIM?

Let’s start by looking at the part of the term that you will be most familiar with – BIM. Building Information Modelling is a collaborative process which allows multiple contractors to work together on the planning, design and construction of a building through the use of one central 3D model.

In order to ensure this model is as accurate as possible, however, we need the measurements involved to be as accurate as possible. The use of 3D laser scans means that the 3D model content and associated measurements are super precise – enabling a data-rich and connected workflow.

What is Scan to BIM?

The B1M, construction’s leading video channel, actually define Scan to BIM as:

“The process of 3D laser scanning a physical space or site to create an accurate digital representation of it. This representation can then be used for designing, assessing progress or evaluating options.”

When we talk about “Scan to BIM” we mean the process where we use a laser scanner to capture an accurate 3D scan of the actual conditions on a project in real time. This scan data is then important in the 3D modelling environment in order to inform the BIM model about the real-world conditions to help create the most accurate as-built model.

Why do we use 3D laser scanning?

3D laser scanning allows us to assess and collect the actual on-site conditions quickly and accurately, providing up to date information which is valuable at all stages of design and construction.

It can also be used to create and verify as-built models for existing structures, augment missing design data and monitor progress on a project accurately. Many construction projects also now require that we deliver a point cloud in order to document the location of new construction for the building owner.

How does Scan to BIM work?

The 3D laser scanner contains an eye-safe laser which rotates at high speed. As the laser rotates it hits solid surfaces, and then records the position of this surface to the scanner as an ‘X, Y, Z’ coordinate – which is known as a ‘point’.  All of these points are then collected together to make up a highly accurate picture, which is commonly referred to as a point cloud.

Once the scanner has collected all of the points, it will then capture colour images which are used to create a realistic 3D representation of what the site looks like.

Advantages of Scan to BIM

Some of the advantages associated with Scan to BIM include:

  • Collection of necessary data over a shorter period of time
  • Faster sharing of information between all contractors
  • Removal of a large degree of human error which were seen with traditional as-built documentation processes
  • Only one site visit needed to collect all of the necessary data

If you would like to harness the accuracy and speed of laser scanning as part of your BIM process, allowing information to flow seamlessly from site to office, then please contact The CAD Room team. You can call us on 0161 427 0348 or email us at