Calverley Consulting LLC Project Management

Scan to BIM and Its Role in the Construction Industry
By:  Melanie Calverley

Introduction to Scan to BIM

Scan to BIM (Building Information Modeling) is becoming increasingly popular in the construction industry. The process can combine the core dimensions of BIM and a 3D laser scanner's accuracy to enhance the process further.

Although BIM promotes collaboration and accuracy in the designing, planning, and construction of a structure in a single environment within the construction industry, Scan to BIM adds additional accuracy and definition into the process. Scan to BIM involves the use of a 3D laser scanner to digitally capture data from a physical and existing building or other structure (as-built) and then produce an accurate three-dimensional representation of that building or other structure.

The capture from the 3D laser printer represents the real-world conditions of a construction project. Due to the nature of the process, Scan to BIM promotes the efficiency and speed of information and data sharing, as well as the accuracy that is often missed in traditional methods.

How Scan to BIM Works

To begin the Scan to BIM process, someone will need to visit the site to acquire the data. Unlike traditional data collection methods, Scan to BIM involves a single site visit. During this visit, the contractor uses the 3D laser scanner to record millions of data points on a building by using a tripod to anchor the 3D laser scanner. Parameters have been entered into the 3D scanner before using the 3D scanner to capture and measure the physical structure's data as its laser beam scans the various surfaces of the object to create the data points. Using the 3D scanner will take several scans with the 3D scanner from multiple angles to ensure that all necessary data is captured.    

These data points then create an accurate digital picture to view the building's 3D representation to be further analyzed by the project team. When the construction team uses the term, “point cloud," they refer to the accurate digital picture created by the 3D laser scanner. The 3D scanner data is then transferred to a computer using either a USB drive or a compatible cloud file-sharing platform.    

The person who took the scans and captured the data from the 3D laser scanner will register all of the scans into a single point cloud, and the data can then be analyzed and utilized by other members of the project team. One of the most useful features of the 3D scanner is its superior accuracy and integration into the BIM process and its ability to promote ease of use from the construction field to the home office. This process saves time, effort, and creates a positive workflow that cannot be duplicated as efficiently as traditional data gathering and dissemination methods.    

The cloud point information is imported into the company’s 3D BIM software and existing 3D model, which will create an accurate as-built model representing the real-world conditions. The superior accuracy of the structure’s representation allows the as-built structure to provide guidance to utilize the building’s details for future remodeling or renovation efforts to the existing building.

Scan to BIM’s Utilization for all Life Cycles and its Benefits to the Construction Industry

As a result of the Scan to BIM process and its representation of the actual as-built conditions of a building or structure, the BIM method combined with the Scan to BIM process means that a construction project's full life cycle can be used.  In the early design phase of a building construction project, adding Scan to BIM to the BIM process allows the construction team a more refined view into the as-built BIM model regarding physical site conditions.    

During the construction phase, Scan to BIM can help design modifications and identify potential safety issues that can be corrected in advance. From a building management and facility management perspective, Scan to BIM provides the additional information that can be used to document critical data that may be used for future structural modifications. Also, Scan to BIM provides the documentation to include structural performance and analysis.

It is no surprise that Scan to BIM is quickly finding itself growing in the construction industries due to its time-saving and cost-saving capabilities and superior accuracy of the critical data used in as-built models. Project teams enjoy the flexibility and the shared data environment that is shared by the collaborative project teams. Scan to BIM enables the project team to manage their construction projects effectively and create a sustainable environment for the projects.

© 10/19/2020

Original article by author, Melanie Calverley, first posted by Leopard Project Controls at:

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