In civil engineering surveying, achieving the best surveying results is key to producing structures that fulfill their purpose without malfunction, which could lead to loss of life and costly lawsuits. Until recently, civil engineering surveying was conducted using traditional surveying methods. But today, parties to civil engineering have the option of replacing traditional surveying methods with laser scanning, which offers more precise survey data and shortens the surveying process, driving down its price.
With scan data generated in AutoCAD, Micro Station or CAiCE, the applications of laser scanning in engineering are many and include: clash control for piping, 3D animations, permanent 3D representation of a site, real time GPS, building and site modeling, BIM modeling, 3D topographical site scanning, support of environmental engineering, early measurement and verification of foundation structure, and verification of construction adherence to engineering specification.
Most civil-engineering projects rely of two types of laser scanners: time-of-flight scanners, which use a laser rangefinder to time the round trip of a laser from the scanner to the scanning subject and back, and triangulation scanners, which emit a pattern of light across a subject's surface and use a camera to measure the deviations caused by the subject's surface quality. Time-of-flight scanners, which provide precise data but not infinitesimal data, are used to survey objects and terrains from long distance. Triangulation scanners, which provide infinitesimally accurate data, are used to survey objects from close distance, and can be mounted at various positions to scan the entire surface or interior of a building. In civil-engineering projects that require both interior and exterior design, time-of-flight scanners and triangulation scanners are typically used in tandem.
In addition to abbreviating the surveying process and reducing its price, laser scanning also provides more reliable linkage between architects and construction companies. This is due to the ability of either party to manipulate survey data to plan an engineering or construction move, which the other party can analyze in relation to its own plans. Furthermore, laser scanning is also valuable for future changes to civil structures. By accessing fully editable scanning files, cities and states can make changes to civil structures without requiring the full re-involvement of an engineering firm.
In some cases, laser scanning clients choose to purchase their own scanning equipment. But in the case of civil engineering, trusting laser scanning to a scanning provider with experience in civil-engineering yields the highest level of expertise. Due to portability of laser scanners and the universal application of laser scanning, many civil-engineering scanning providers offer their services at a national or international level.