Editorial Type: Feature Date: 2020-10-05 Views: 1,124 Tags: Software, Construction, CAD, Site Surveying, Surveys, Digital Mapping, Sitech, Trimble Stratus PDF Version:
SITECH uses drones to enhance its ability to track and manage the progress of earthmoving operations on construction sites

SITECH UK & Ireland, the leading distributor of Trimble technology, now offers an innovative progress tracking software solution that uses drones to help site managers map, measure and manage their sites more effectively. Trimble Stratus, powered by Propeller, is a data analytics and visualisation platform that is designed specifically for earthmoving applications to help contractors track progress and productivity. Harnessing the power of highly accurate surveying and mapping capabilities, contractors are able to avoid costly delays and minimise rework.

Unlike other industries that are embracing digitalisation, earthworks and construction have traditionally lagged behind and have been slow to innovate. For example, many construction companies still rely on traditional methods of surveying, such as pegs, to map a project. This often requires skilled surveyors that can make the necessary calculations and interpret the data. However, their time on site is limited, and it isn't always easy to access this expertise when you need it.

Now, the industry is beginning to see the benefits of how advanced technology can be used to improve productivity and accuracy on site. In the last few years, improvements in drone and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) technology have changed how we use them in the construction industry - they are no longer viewed as just high-tech toys. As purchase and setup costs of drones gradually decrease and the technology becomes more affordable, more construction and civil engineering businesses can benefit from it.

There are several benefits of using drones on site, such as improving survey accuracy of large areas without difficulty, collecting and sharing data, and improving health and safety. Improving these areas can help companies keep their infrastructure projects on track and avoid costly delays.

To allow more construction companies to benefit from drone technology and digitise and overcome common surveying issues, SITECH now supplies Trimble Stratus. The new package uses Trimble's Connected Site solutions and delivers a new end-to-end solution for contractors. This means that contractors can place and activate their ground control points and then fly their drone to collect site data.

As well as surveying, innovations in drone software now allow contractors to produce detailed 3D maps and models using the data and site footage that they gather from flights. This highly accurate site data can cut costs because the detailed visualisations help teams align on their activities and reduce the risk of design errors that require rework later down the line. For example, Trimble Stratus, uses a data analytics and visualisation platform to capture georeferenced high-resolution aerial images, allowing contractors to access highly accurate topographic surveys without creating the bottlenecks caused by traditional surveying methods.

As with progress tracking, when 3D mapping is combined with a suitable analytics platform, you can communicate this data across your team and with third parties. Contractors can use Trimble Stratus to then upload and view this data and share it between the site, office and across the team. This can help prevent miscommunication as companies can store and share a single source of truth across the cloud instead of running around with a pencil and a piece of paper. Improved digital mapping also means that every member of the team is aware of the site's landscape, is working from the same information and immediately receives any updates. Instead of taking hours, or even days to cover the site on foot, all you need to do is fly the drone - providing a real field-to-finish solution for mapping sites.

"If manual surveys are inaccurate, construction companies can see a decline in performance and see delays that mean they fall behind schedule and go over budget," explained Ian Barnes, Head of Business at SITECH UK & Ireland. "By using drone technology, surveyors can access highly accurate data to ensure operations remain on schedule. Companies can also remove employees from difficult to access and dangerous areas, like quarries, improving safety as well as accuracy."

"While other software tries to accommodate a broad category of users, Trimble Stratus is 100 percent focused on earthmoving and construction environments," explained Jan Wouter Kruyt, Director of European Operations at Propeller. "The cloud-based platform is also really intuitive and can be used without surveying expertise. The drone images are processed in Trimble Stratus and then visualised as interactive, measurable 3D terrain models. It's easy to create and share measurements on these 3D maps”.

"The new package delivers several benefits for construction companies, including capabilities to compare designs and minimise rework by generating highly accurate survey data," continued Kruyt. "Most importantly, having frequent up-to-date survey data on hand means that companies can complete projects ahead of schedule and under budget, something that'’s becoming more important as companies try to get back on track following lockdown."

"Trimble Stratus is ground-breaking for construction companies that want to enhance their surveying," continued Barnes. "By harnessing the power of drone technology and combining this with a Trimble platform, contractors now have access to highly accurate progress tracking with a solution designed specifically for earthworks projects like theirs."