Surveying Techniques: A Comprehensive Guide for Engineers

Surveying is the backbone of engineering, providing the foundation upon which accurate designs and constructions are built. In engineering, precision is paramount, and surveying techniques have evolved to meet the demands of increasingly complex projects. At CEH Consulting, we deeply understand the significance of surveying techniques in engineering, and we’re here to provide a comprehensive guide to the diverse methods used by engineers to gather critical data.


Drone / Airborne Laser ScanningDRONE / AIRBORNE LASER SCANNING

Drones equipped with laser scanners have revolutionised surveying. They capture high-resolution data from above, making them ideal for large-scale projects, environmental monitoring, and topographic mapping. Airborne laser scanning extends this capability to cover even larger areas with rapid data acquisition. 


Infrared (IR) surveying uses thermal imaging to detect variations in temperature. Engineers employ this technique to identify heat leaks in buildings, assess the condition of electrical systems, and monitor environmental changes.

Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging)

Lidar systems utilise laser pulses to measure distances and create detailed 3D maps of terrain or structures. Lidar is commonly used in forestry, geology, and urban planning, providing highly accurate data for a wide range of engineering applications.

Terrestrial Laser Scanning

Terrestrial laser scanning involves ground-based laser scanners that capture highly detailed 3D data of structures or terrain. This technique is instrumental in creating precise models of existing infrastructure, archaeological sites, and construction sites.

Mobile Laser Scanning / On Top of the Car

Mobile laser scanning systems are mounted on vehicles, enabling rapid data collection while driving. Engineers use this method for road and railway surveys, urban planning, and asset management.

GPS Real-Time Kinematic

Global Positioning System (GPS) Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) surveys provide precision level accuracy in real-time. RTK is essential for construction layout, machine guidance, and precise positioning in challenging environments.

GPS Static Control

GPS static control surveys involve long-duration measurements to establish precise control points. These points serve as reference for other surveys and are crucial for geodetic networks and large-scale projects. 

Survey Control

Survey control networks establish reference points across an area, ensuring consistent geodetic data for multiple surveys. Engineers use survey control to link projects and achieve high accuracy. 

Mine Baseline Surveys

In mining, baseline surveys establish reference points for future surveys. They are critical for monitoring changes in subsurface conditions and ensuring safety in underground and open-pit mining.

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Total Station Residential Surveys

Total stations are electronic optical instruments used for land surveys. They provide precise measurements for residential property boundaries, construction layout, and as-built surveys.

Machine Guidance Control

Machine guidance systems use GPS and other sensors to guide heavy machinery during excavation, grading, and construction, enhancing accuracy and efficiency.


Photogrammetry creates 3D models from photographs. Engineers use it for mapping, architectural modeling, and topographic surveys.

Geolocated/Geo-Referenced Ortho Imagery

Geo-referenced ortho imagery combines aerial photography with geographic coordinates to create accurate maps and models. It is invaluable in land-use planning, forestry, and environmental monitoring.

Precise Level Surveys

Precise levelling measures height differences between points with high accuracy, essential for determining elevations in engineering projects and ensuring proper drainage.

Underground Surface Locating

Engineers use underground surface locating techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar, to map subsurface utilities and identify potential hazards during excavation.

Residential House Set-out

House set-out surveys establish the precise location of a house on a property, ensuring that it complies with zoning regulations and setbacks.

Industrial Set-out

Industrial set out surveys are essential for positioning machinery, equipment, and infrastructure accurately within industrial facilities.

Surveying techniques are the bedrock of engineering, providing the data and measurements needed for precise design and construction. Engineers leverage a diverse array of techniques, from laser scanning and GPS to infrared imaging and photogrammetry, to meet the unique demands of their projects. At CEH Consulting, we are dedicated to applying the most suitable surveying techniques to ensure the success and accuracy of engineering endeavours, no matter how complex or challenging they may be.


See Surveying and Spatial Information Act 2002 No 83 here