Changing the way we work

The technology used on infrastructure projects is changing rapidly, giving us more time in the office as well as greater accuracy of data. Topcon’s Dave Bennett explains.

Dave Bennett, Topcon

Technology is driving change across the infrastructure sector and one area in particular at the moment that is causing professionals to reassess the way we work is machine control, a process used on many roadway and rail construction projects. 

Machine control, the technology which accurately delivers earthworks based on 3D design models and machine mounted GPS systems, allows operators to work independently. This has removed the need for banksmen and engineers to be working in the vicinity of the machine, which is obviously hugely beneficial in terms of health and safety.  

"The way we are capturing data on projects is also developing, allowing for greater accuracy as well as for less time on site."

In addition to this, the design of machine control technology is now more intuitive and less reliant upon the operator’s individual skills, especially when working to complex design and geometries. This means it can be used by construction workers of all levels and reduces the likelihood of human error.

Data in action 

The way we are capturing data on projects is also developing, allowing for greater accuracy as well as for less time on site. Mobile mapping systems, which can capture data while attached to a moving vehicle such as a car or train, allow us to take surveyors away from high traffic, and therefore high risk areas. 

Traditionally they would be capturing asset information manually, working on highways or rail environments. However, with kit such as Topcon’s IPS3 for example - a vehicle mounted system that allows for mass data capture – it removes the need for manual surveys. 

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), such as our Falcon8 and Sirius UAS, allow surveyors access to difficult to reach areas. We are seeing this technology used for asset inspection and condition monitoring on structures at height, for example utility infrastructure and oil rigs, which has huge time saving and health and safety benefits.

All these developments are giving us a greater amount of accurate data across a project. The use of BIM is allowing this data to be viewed “as-build” rather than “as-built”. For example, a change to the geometry or design of a road project in the designer’s office can be transferred immediately via the cloud to the operator of a 3D excavator, ensuring that the operator is always working with the most up to date design data. 

This level of accuracy and transparency of data allows all stakeholders and partners involved in the project to have a clear understanding of any developments and changes to the project, meaning a more efficient working process.

David Bennett is business manager at Topcon

Topcon recently hosted the Topcon Technology Days in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. This event saw live demonstrations of technology in action as well as presentations from leading industry figures such as Autodesk and Skanska. Find out more visit http://www.topconpositioning.co.uk/

If you would like to contact Antony Oliver about this, or any other story, please email antony.oliver@infrastructure-intelligence.com.