What is a total station?

Most people have seen surveyors at work, but aren’t familiar with the tools we use. A total station is a standard piece of equipment for land surveying. What is a total station and how does a surveyor use it?

A total station is an optoelectronic device that combines a surveyor’s transit with an electronic distance measuring capability, and a computer to perform calculations. Total stations also collect a variety of information about land features, like measuring the slope of the area of interest.

Robotic total stations represent an advancement over traditional total stations since they offer remote operating capabilities. The remote capability allows a single surveyor to manage the entire surveying process. Total stations measure angles, distances, and coordinates to provide the surveyor with a precise description of a piece of land and its features. Engineers, architects, and public works department rely heavily upon surveyors for precision data. Designers of building projects, highway and street improvements, utility projects, archaeological sites, and mining excavation sites all make heavy use of precision surveying. Correctly identifying boundary lines, lot lines, topographical features and existing construction all depend upon precision land surveys.

Not surprisingly, construction (and construction planning) make heavy use of precision survey data. One of the problems we encounter regularly is discrepancies between the plans for a building and the finished building! Sometimes, what’s captured in the plans and kept on file doesn’t match the actual construction.

For example, the architect may have intended for the building utilities to enter at a certain location, but the construction crew discovered something the architect didn’t know about.

Following the original plan might have been impossible, or may have vastly increased the cost of the building, so they came up with an easier or less expensive alternative during construction. Unfortunately, they may not have written down the changes they made to the plan. Professional surveys precisely capture what exists at the time of the survey, and can save a lot of time, effort and money during additional construction, remodeling or repair.

Total stations and robotic total stations are key tools in the surveyor’s measuring arsenal. By collecting precise measurements, surveyors can reduce the overall cost of a construction project. Precise location information can eliminate labor costs, construction delays and rework on a project that’s already in progress. If you’d like more information about White Shield’s land surveying services, please give us a call at (888) 882-1142