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  • Leo Vidal

Powering BIM Workflows with Point Clouds, LiDAR, and Photogrammetry

In the field of Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Operations (AECO), advanced survey technologies such as point clouds, LiDAR, and photogrammetry are indispensable. These tools not only enhance project workflows but also elevate precision. Understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and optimal applications is crucial for their effective integration into BIM workflows.



Point Clouds

A point cloud is a dataset defined in a three-dimensional coordinate system, generated by 3D scanners and LiDAR systems. It captures the external surfaces of objects, serving as a digital representation of physical spaces.


LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)

LiDAR employs laser pulses to measure distances to the Earth's surface. Mounted on drones, aircraft, or ground systems, it provides high-resolution 3D information on terrain and surface features.


Laser Scanners

Specifically designed for architectural and structural data capture, laser scanners offer detailed accuracy suitable for both exterior and interior mapping.



This technique uses photography to precisely measure and record surface points, widely applied in geography, engineering, and entertainment industries for creating 3D models from images.


Image 1. Laser scanning and point cloud. (Source: Spectrum Australia)



Each technology offers unique advantages and challenges:


Point Clouds

Advantages: Highly accurate digital representation, essential for precise measurements and modeling in BIM.

Disadvantages: Requires significant processing power and expertise for handling large datasets.



Advantages: Fast and accurate 3D modelling across large areas, effective in various environmental conditions.

Disadvantages: High equipment costs and processing expenses, potentially limiting smaller projects.


Laser Scanners

Advantages: Exceptionally detailed data capture, ideal for heritage preservation and intricate architectural documentation.

Disadvantages: Less effective over long distances or extensive areas compared to airborne LiDAR.



Advantages: Cost-efficient using standard cameras, suitable for projects with budget constraints or requiring portability.

Disadvantages: Lower accuracy compared to laser-based methods, susceptible to environmental factors like lighting.




Integrating these technologies into BIM workflows enhances planning, design, construction, and facility management:


Pre-Construction: Enables detailed modeling of existing conditions for retrofit projects or extensions.

Construction Phase: Provides real-time comparison with BIM models, facilitating immediate adjustments.

Post-Construction: Offers accurate records for facility management and future reference.




Selection of the appropriate technology depends on project requirements:

·       LiDAR excels in large-scale outdoor environments and complex terrains.

·       Laser scanners are ideal for detailed architectural documentation.

·       Photogrammetry suits projects with tighter budgets or requiring equipment mobility.

·       Point Clouds are versatile but necessitate tools adept at handling and modeling extensive datasets efficiently.




The integration of point clouds, LiDAR, and photogrammetry into BIM workflows signifies a pivotal advancement in the AECO sector. By selecting the right technology tailored to project needs, professionals can achieve heightened accuracy, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. These innovations streamline processes, elevating the quality and sustainability of construction endeavours. Get in touch with us if you want to discuss these technologies for your project needs.


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