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Maximize the Potential of Surveying and BIM

4 minute read

In talking to our Trimble customers around the globe, we know surveyors and geospatial professionals are highly interested in trends in Building Information Modeling (BIM). In fact, many say they see the innovative technology as a chance to grow and enhance their operations.

In a way, this rising BIM era is comparable to decades ago with the advent of GIS technology. Surveyors were the only people doing mapping and creating of maps at the time. Then, GIS came along and the profession spent decades debating who should be doing GIS - surveyors or GIS professionals.

Similarly, surveyors these days don’t miss the boat when it comes to BIM.

How can more surveyors become part of the so-called ‘BIM Revolution?’

Trimble TBC Utility Modeling BIM

We believe surveyors have opportunities to interface with BIM throughout all project stages – from pre-construction and design to building, maintenance and operation – and can benefit from learning how to do more with BIM technology.

The topic is explored in a new article “Chasing BIM: How Surveyors Can Shape the Future” in GIM International by Boris Skopljak, market manager overseeing the development of survey and mapping office software at Trimble.

Defining BIM

First, it’s important to understand that BIM isn’t defined by a particular tool, such as Revit or SketchUp. These tools contribute to the BIM process, but on their own, they aren’t BIM. That’s because BIM is a process. It’s not a single software, and it’s not a single person, which makes it really challenging to conceptualize.

Historically, surveyors “leave the rest to the client” when it comes to transforming point clouds into building information models. With BIM technology, however, they can deliver higher quality services by producing intelligent models that foster a richer understanding of an entire scenario.

At its core, BIM is meant to transform how project teams work together on a job, from start to finish.

How can surveyors use BIM to stay relevant, enhance their business and become part of the change?

At Trimble, we believe it starts with surveyors engaging more with other trades and parties working on a job site to envision how – collaboratively – their deliverables can provide more value downstream. In this way, surveyors are seeing new possibilities at each stage of the design and construction process.

This aspect is evident with laser scanning of the built environment. For example, a surveyor might assume that by investing in a laser scanner, they are instantly a “BIM service provider.” But the reality is that a laser scanner is just another tool if it’s not used the right way.

The opportunity for expansion is in providing intelligent models and richer understanding of the entire scene to someone who needs to consume that data. It’s taking very accurate information and making it intelligent and useful downstream.

The right BIM tools

Trimble provides a virtual process from surveying to the final building site so geospatial professionals can provide rich, BIM-ready deliverables that will expand their businesses. With BIM technology, surveyors can communicate with multiple trades, in real-time, through a single project management environment.

Numerous BIM tools include features that can render complex models in the field. For example, instead of staking out or listing data points, surveyors can work directly off of live models. Or, as they place foundations or put stakes in the ground, other stakeholders can have immediate feedback no matter where they are located.

The bottom line: geospatial professionals must start embracing technologies like BIM not only to help with daily project tasks, but to also generate a deeper understanding of the design and construction space altogether.