Scan to BIM: Incredible benefits, but by no means magic

The term “Scan to BIM” has surfaced very often nowadays, mainly due to the hard to ignore benefits that the resultant 3D BIM-compatible model that it results in. However, more often than not, professionals in the various industries do get the misconception that it is easy and quick to obtain, even instantaneous, somewhat like magic. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it isn’t magic, and today, we will be sharing a little more on this technique that is very popular when it comes to capturing as-built information.

Scan to BIM generally makes up of 2 segments: The 3D Laser Scanning operations, where accurate Point Cloud data is captured, and the ensuing 3D Modelling in software such as Autodesk Revit, where 3D Point Cloud modellers model the individual 3D elements over the Point Cloud data.

3D Laser Scanning Operations

strategically placed laser scanning positions in a manufacturing plant

strategically placed laser scanning positions in a manufacturing plant

Depending on the extensiveness of the building, and the requirements on detail, the Laser Scanning operations may last from days to weeks. However, it is generally quite clear that this technique of measurement is significantly faster than measurements by hand. For time savings, we are looking at upwards of 60%, based on clients’ feedback as well as case studies conducted by ourselves. Another plus point is that it is definitely safer, as there is no need for anyone to climb up to heights just to take measurements by hand.

The result? An assembly of points that comes together to form a collective Point Cloud data in 3D, comprehensively depicting the entire environment for easy visualisation.

3D Point Cloud Modelling

The 3D BIM-Compatible models are much richer in information than that of the traditional 2D Drawings. For one, they now include the perspective of depth, enabling you to visualise the environment in 3D. 3D Modelling software such as Revit have the capability to perform a variety of functions such as walkthroughs, inputting of information, rendering/texturing of elements, clash detection, and many more.

Transition from point clouds to 3d bim compatible models

Transition from point clouds to 3d bim compatible models

With such capabilities, it is clear that the creation of such 3D Models is not instantaneous. The modellers must carefully make sense of the Point Cloud data and create separate 3D elements such as walls, floors, balustrading, windows, doors and place them at the exact spot as reflected in the Point Cloud data. It takes time to create quality, accurate 3D Models that are capable to perform the variety of functions that the user requires.

Despite that, it is still significantly shorter than traditional drafters, whose drafting are based on manual measurements. Unlike Point Cloud Modelling, where the 3D Modeller has the Point Cloud base to refer to and trace upon, the traditional drafters often have to draft on an entirely blank canvas, visualising how the actual environment is and drawing from scratch. As a result, 3D Modelling is often quicker by a mile.

Cost & Time Savings

Combining the 2 above, it is clear that the total savings with respect to time and cost is significantly lower, as compared to traditional measurement by hand and subsequent 2D CAD drafting. As the targeted environment gets more complex, the cost and time savings tend to increase exponentially.

Throw in the improvements in accuracy and the subsequent applications you can do with the 3D Model, and you can understand why there is so much excitement out there about Scan to BIM, and the benefits that it can bring about.