Is baby growing up? Last year, we referred to the trend in laser scanning among surveying, mapping and geospatial professionals as “baby steps.”

Well, again this year, BNP Media’s market research division worked with the staff of POB magazine to develop and conduct a thorough market study … and there’s solid evidence that laser scanning is starting to shift from the niche, albeit conservatively so.

And who did we learn this from? Again with our 2016 study, the overwhelming majority of respondents — 81 percent of laser scanning equipment users and 85 percent of non-users — either approve or recommend their companies’ equipment purchases. In other words, these are the professionals who would know first-hand if laser scanning is a strong consideration for their companies or not.

Who’s Laser Scanning?

After a few years of being relatively unchanged, the use of laser scanning and imaging had a notable increase among the 2016 study respondents. Used by 27 percent of the respondents, the technology remains somewhat exclusive, but maybe not for much longer considering the previous year’s level of use was only 19 percent. Established technologies such as total stations and GPS/GNSS equipment remain dominant among the capital goods owned and used by surveying professionals.

What Are They Scanning With?

Of the study respondents who currently use laser scanning and imaging tools, a leading 47 percent employ phase-based terrestrial stationary laser scanners. Despite a dip from the previous year’s 53 percent, this group remains the largest. All others, though, are closing the gap.

Working Those Scanners

Among the users of laser scanning tools, the average number of scanners in current use has increased significantly year over year, from 1.52 to 1.8. Interestingly, the breakdown shows an increase in users of a single scanner and in three or more scanners.

Where Do They Spend?

Surveying professionals who use laser scanning tools continue in general to add them at a modest, conservative pace. Of the 2016 study respondents in this market, 53 percent have not added any such tools in the past 12 months, although that is down from 60 percent the previous year. Among those who have added tools for laser scanning, the most activity has been for photogrammetry and drone use.

What Will They Buy?

Of those respondents who currently use laser scanning and imaging tools, the largest group plans to grab onto the UAV trend and invest in drone technology in the next year. Also of note, and not surprisingly, aerial LiDAR systems are now on buyers’ radar.

Who’s With Us?

Regardless of whether or not they are already using laser scanning tools, study respondents continue to share a common attitude toward the technologies. Most notably, among statements they could select as best describing how they feel: “The surveying profession has the opportunity to lead in laser scanning/ imaging implementation, but isn’t moving quickly enough.”

Although the difference between users and non-users is slightly greater here, a consistency does remain when selecting how they feel on the statement: “The surveying profession is leading the way in laser scanning/imaging implementation.” In general, the attitudes persist.

Training Catching Up?

When it comes to training, fewer study respondents this year remain skeptical of the opportunities available for professional surveyors. Among statements they could agree or disagree with: “There is adequate availability of laser scanning/imaging education courses and training opportunities for surveying professionals.”


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