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Total Stations

We source our Mechanical Total Station Survey Equipment and Robotic Total Stations from industry experts Spectra, Trimble, Leica and Nikon – guaranteeing you unparalleled accuracy and precision when taking your measurements. The new generation of Total Stations works seamlessly with our range of Software so that you can transfer, analyse and present your data with the maximum of ease.

What is a total station?

A total station is a surveying instrument that combines an electronic theodolite and an electronic distance meter. They are used to measure horizontal angles, vertical angles and distances. Total stations are primarily used for validating the accuracy of survey data, helping to cut down on design errors and quantity orders, which can increase costs.

How does a total station work?

Total stations measure angles using electro-optical scanning of digital bar-codes which are etched on rotating glass cylinders or discs inside the device. Distance is measured using an infra-red signal which is emitted from the device and then reflected by a prism reflector. Both instruments feed data into a built-in computer which can be used in conjunction with survey mapping software to provide a complete set of survey data – hence the name ‘total’ station.

What types of total stations are there?

Manual Total Station

A manual total station usually requires two people to operate the device, one to operate the total station and the other to hold the prism reflector. This form of total station requires the operator to manually guide the infrared signal to the prism. These are not commonly used on modern construction sites, thanks to the development of mechanical and robotic total stations.

Mechanical Total Stations

The implementation of mechanical motors into total stations was a significant upgrade in the industry. Also known as servo stations, this advancement meant that the surveyor no longer had to manually move the axis of the instrument to aim the sight at the prism.

Automatic Stations

Automatic stations are able to recognise a reflector prism. Manufacturers use different names for this technology. Automatic total stations detect the position of their target using radio waves or imaging technology. Once the station has recognised its target, it then automatically adjusts the axis motors to pinpoint where the target is located. This naturally speeds up point recording and represents a significant benefit in most survey situations.

Robotic Total Station

A robotic total station includes all the features of its manual counterpart but only requires one person to operate the device. The total station can be operated by remote control, allowing surveyor holding the prism reflector to take measurements. The accuracy is equal to any manual station and efficiency is also greatly improved.

What are the advantages of total stations?

The advantages of using a total station are:

  • Equipped with a optical or laser plummet, making it quick to set up
  • On-board screen and computer to calculate measurements
  • Quick visualisation of measurements is possible
  • All data can be easily transferred for processing
  • Plotting, area and volumetric computation across a large scale

What are the disadvantages of total stations?

Disadvantages of using a total station are:

  • Hard copies of field notes aren’t immediately available, so surveyor must rely on the total station for data whilst in the field
  • Drawings and presentations must be prepared from a separate computer after data has transferred
  • Total stations require trained personnel to use properly


What is the difference between a theodolite and total station?

A theodolite is an instrument used for measuring horizontal and vertical angles, it is a mounted telescope which can be moved on two perpendicular axes. A total station combines an electronic theodolite, an electronic distance measuring device and a computer running software to capture the necessary data.

How is EDM used in surveying?

Electronic distance measuring (EDM) is used in surveying to collect accurate distance measurements from a site. EDM is combined with an electronic theodolite in a total station to provide surveyors with the means to accurately measure angles and distances up to several kilometres. This data is collected on the total station and can then be transferred to a PC/laptop for further analysis or presentation.

What is a manual total station?

Manual total stations require the operator to manually guide the infrared signal to the reflector prism. They can still prove to be effective tools for surveying, but do not have the quality of life or efficiency improvements that robotic or mechanical total stations benefit from.

What is REM in a total station?

REM stands for Remote Elevation Measurement, which is the process for discerning the height of objects without physically scaling or measuring the object. To achieve this a total station is placed at a distance from the object that is being measured. The reflector prism is placed at the base of the object, the slope distance is measured and then the telescope is tilted to the top of the object to measure the height.

Which is the best total station?

The best total station will be the device that is best suited to your chosen application. Whilst some total stations have comparably the same features, each differs in some way to make them useful for certain contexts or settings.

Ensure that the total station you choose has the necessary accuracy required for the task. The accuracy of total stations is measured in seconds, the lower the number the higher the accuracy, with most Total Stations measuring to an accuracy better than 5mm. You should also pay attention to the various programmes and settings that the total stations come with, as these will dictate the scope of work that they can be used for.

What is the range of a total station?

A total station typically has a range of up to 1,500 metres. This number varies depending on the type of total station and model that you choose.

What Total Station Equipment do you offer?

Partnering with Spectra, Trimble, and Nikon, we offer a vast range of Total survey equipment including Leica Total Stations, Trimble SPS930 Universal Total Station,  and the Trimble S5 Total Station.

Passionate about supplying our clients with efficient, reliable solutions, our portfolio is also rich in the latest and most effective survey equipment accessories and tools, including the Leica total station compatible Swiss Style 360 Mini Prism + 30mm Kit and the Quick change adapter for Leica GPH1.

What other Survey Equipment Services do you provide?

Boasting over 30 years of experience in the Survey Equipment industry, we also offer Survey Equipment Hire and Survey Equipment Repair services in addition to expertly reconditioned products  – providing you with cost-effective survey equipment solutions without sacrificing accuracy.

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