Jobsite connectivity is increasing across projects around the world. Project managers, construction foremen and installers are now able to collaborate and work in ways like never before by leveraging on technology to complete their projects on plan and within budget. The introduction of technology in geospatial solutions for the construction industry was simply another step into becoming a digitalised world. From the use of automobiles and manual machines to geospatial solutions like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and Building Information Modelling (BIM), the construction industry has been undergoing constant innovation and improvement. Now in the 21st century, geospatial industry is experiencing a paradigm shift and is evolving to provide opportunities for higher productivity, allowing for more returns on investments and lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
With digitalisation, it allows for automation and reduces manual work while increasing productivity for construction projects. For the geospatial industry, the use of surveying equipment with the latest technology to all-in-one machine platforms have provided valuable benefits to the construction industry. Advances to 3D modelling and jobsite connectivity have increased the importance of quality software that can best leverage the hardware features for optimal solutions.
An example of this is the Leica Nova MS60, an all-rounder total station that combines 3D laser scanning, GNSS connectivity and digital imaging1. The Leica Nova MS60 has automation features, such as its revolutionary setup assistant AutoHeight. Hours of set up are reduced to mere minutes with a press of a button. Furthermore, it uses the Leica Captivate field software, allowing for measurements and scanning data to be visualised in 3D. All these data can be seamlessly transferred into the Leica Infinity software to manage, process, analyse and perform quality checks.
The Leica GS18 T is another solution that reduces the need for manual work using GNSS and inertial measurement unit (IMU). Due to tilt compensation, there is no need to level the pole, increasing the productivity by an average of 20% over conventional GNSS RTK surveying practices2.
Besides total stations, 3D scanners can create a digital replica of a building or any other object that is being scanned, by producing a point cloud which is a set of data points in space. These point clouds can then be meshed and rendered into 3D CAD models for visualization, rendering and customization. Laser scanners from a decade ago are large enough to fit in the back of a truck, required a team of 2.4 persons, and a day on a jobsite to create a digital scan. Now, these devices fit in one hand, on a drone, or in a backpack – and scans are done within minutes or hours.
The wide range of abilities geospatial solutions helps reduce buffer time and in turn, deliver projects on time. With these solutions, companies can lower costs by reducing manpower, thereby optimising their work processes to be more efficient for more returns on investments.
Surveying Every Nook and Cranny
Surveying is a crucial part of every construction project, and has evolved from decades ago. In a study of Stonehenge, it was theorised that the monument was surveyed with peg and rope geometry3. And as we are now well into the digital age, powerful tools have been developed to help gather the accurate data essential to construct great architectures in quicker ways.
For instance, Leica Geosystems’ BLK2GO aids surveying and mapping. It is a handheld imaging laser scanner that utilises point cloud and SLAM technology to capture and recreate spaces in 3D4. With a point measurement rate of 420,000 pts/sec, it is fast, agile, and allows users to capture the space around them in real time as they move through it. It also has the ability to scan over and under objects, through rooms and doorways, making it one of the most convenient technology for surveying.
One of the most common challenges for construction companies is productivity and tight budgets. With its speed, the BLK2GO can minimise time used to gather data; its accuracy minimises the need for reworks. This essentially means that companies can reduce the amount of time it takes to survey construction sites, and have it done accurately too. Companies can deliver projects on time and reduce reworking costs in the process.
Not Just for Experts
There is a perception that construction and geospatial tools are only available to experts that have gone through years of rigorous training. While it may be true in the past, current geospatial solutions have increased their ease of use and are becoming more widely available to even novice users.
For example, the Leica DSX Utility Detection Solution is designed for locating, visualising and mapping utilities without the need for an expert’s knowledge5. It is essential to know the location of underground pipes when starting a construction project, regardless if it is a greenfield site where it appears not to have any underground objects, or a renovation in a city centre. It avoids future safety risks and potential disruption to the jobsite.
Unlike any other ground penetrating radar (GPR) system, the Leica DSX maximises productivity with cutting-edge software that automates data analysis and creates a 3D utility map on the field. Its automated data analysis and intuitive user interface in just a few steps eases use.
The ease of use allows non-experienced and first-time GPR users to gather detailed and accurate information. Users no longer have to interpret raw radar data and hyperbolas as the DSX displays results clearly and directly in the field with automated GPR post processing and data analysis.
Cutting-edge tools like the DSX reduce the back and forth that can commonly cause communication breakdowns. With less downtime needed, companies can focus on other important aspects of the project without having to worry about extra labour cost, cost of lost production and even unhappy customers.
The world has always marvelled at great buildings, from the Great Pyramids of Giza to the Eiffel Tower to skyscrapers. Without the constant technological innovations to create new and improved products, we would not be able to witness such achievements. Barely two decades into the 21st century, geospatial solutions have changed the dynamics of construction. The construction and surveying industry will be soaring to greater heights in the coming years with automation, easier access and convenience.
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