Expanding Possibilities: Technologies that Span the Design-through-Construction Lifecycle

There’s been considerable excitement and energy around machine control and autonomous operations in the construction space in recent years. And rightfully so – big machines that can grade a site to centimeter tolerances on the first go without operator assistance are worthy of celebration.

But what about the tools and techniques that go into winning and preparing for those machines to move? Sometimes forgotten in the thrill of the dig is the value of some of those familiar technology-enabled solutions to win jobs and set the stage for productivity, efficiency, and quality delivery.

In the following, we look at a few familiar technologies that are helping facilitate projects well before machines and materials arrive on a site.

A View from Above

By now, almost every contractor has likely heard of or applied data captured by drones. In the last few years, these flying robots have become almost commonplace on earthwork projects around the world as a foundation for volume calculations and progress tracking.

For many, the speedy, accurate survey data also provides a tremendous preconstruction advantage.

Australian infrastructure contractor McConnell Dowell has built some of the most challenging roads, rails, dams, pipelines, marine assets and other infrastructure in Australia, New Zealand and Southern Asia. The company’s latest endeavor is the Level Crossing Removal Program (LXRP), a multi-year program to oversee one of the largest rail infrastructure projects in the Australia’s history. As part of the Western Program Alliance (WPA), which also includes Arup, Mott MacDonald and Metro Trains Melbourne, McConnell Dowell is charged with removing and renovating a set number of the crossings. To-date, the alliance has completed six of the crossing projects, and is currently working on another four.

“Just surveying the individual project sites was a challenge,” said John Dyer, Engineering Manager with WPA. “Even the best surveyor in the world might only survey on five- or 10-meter grids, so we would only get a snapshot of that particular point or area, which then had to be interpolated on a 2D drawing. We needed a way to survey the whole site quickly to provide a timely resource for optimal collaboration and project management.”

McConnell Dowell put Trimble Stratus, powered by Propeller, to work for them. For Alex Wong, Senior Digital Engineer at McConnell Dowell, the Trimble Stratus platform has become an essential tool in the pre-planning phases of the project. “Quite often during the tender period, we have people with different ideas of how things work,” he said. “With the 3D aerial data, that discussion becomes much more focused and everyone is better prepared for the next phase.”

Wong says another advantage of Stratus is coordinating people, equipment and materials for a job. “Material delivery planning can be a challenge on these sites. Recently, a subcontractor from Tasmania needed to deliver some very large steel piles for a bridge structure. Due to the pandemic, we were not able to get to the site,” he said. “Trimble Stratus enabled our subcontractors to plan the safe delivery of these very large elements in a laydown area. Further, we provided the piling contractor access to the topo data of the site in question, and that team is able to pre-plan activities from material laydown to equipment locations, with full awareness of site restrictions.”

Satellite Connections

Integral to everything from watches to automated wheel loaders, GNSS is certainly a familiar technology. But even the application of this now-common navigation solution continues to expand, especially for pre-construction applications.

The capability came in particularly handy for the multi-year $3.7 million Wanaka Lakefront Development Plan, initiated by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Wanaka Community Board. Key objectives of the plan are to restore and develop native vegetation to maintain the lakefront’s rugged, wild landscape, improve and expand a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists, and the construction of a lakeside boardwalk.

The modernisation includes the restoration of 300m long native revegetation of lake edge as well as vegetation along a steep bank, the construction of a 3m wide shared path alongside Lakeside Road and a 2m wide boardwalk along the  lake edge with connections to the existing pathway network as well as an 80m of timber and concrete retaining wall.

For Blakely Construction, a Rolleston, New Zealand-based civil contractor, the project was an exciting opportunity to demonstrate technology enabled benefits both before and after construction start.

The project is about a five hour drive from Blakely’s headquarters, which could create some logistical and communication challenges.

Mathew Havill, General Manager for Blakely Construction, and his team took advantage of Trimble SiteVision, a new, outdoor augmented reality (AR) system purchased from SITECH New Zealand, originally purchased to support project progress. SiteVision is purpose-built to help project teams communicate design adjustments to field crews, conduct inspections, track progress and make quick survey measurements.

“Initially, I wanted SiteVision mostly because I thought it would help bring our clients on the journey with us as we built projects,” Havill explained. “We found it could do so much more.”

Key to Havill’s decision to use the augmented reality system was access to a 3D model of the boardwalk.

“As contractors, we’re very good at envisioning how projects come together, but that’s sometimes difficult to portray to clients and the community in a visual way,” said Havill. “With SiteVision’s AR capabilities, we were able to draw them more into the process by providing clear visuals about how each piece of the project would come together, including, in this case, the interaction between hardscape and vegetation.”

It also allowed the Blakely project team to highlight areas of potential concern so that decisions could be made in advance. In one instance, the technology was used to assess potential concerns during early site assessments. The Lake Wanaka boardwalk runs along the shoreline with a vertical bank in some areas with a lot of existing vegetation.

He continued, “We knew there were concerns about the local ecology, but we were able to show the client and community how that vegetation interacted with the boardwalk—and more importantly, get clarification about removal. SiteVision allows us to communicate those areas that need more detail with clarity.”

Robotic Rewards

One of the challenges in the estimating, bidding and pre-construction phases of a project is often the limited ground-based infrastructure like base stations, radio or internet connectivity necessary to survey and develop estimates for materials, labor and machines. The most common survey approach would be to use RTK, but that requires a fixed base station to acquire correction data.

But what if ground access is not readily available? That’s where a GNSS solution such as Trimble RTX comes into play. RTX is a family of real-time GNSS positioning services available via IP/cellular or satellite delivery worldwide. The services utilize real-time satellite measurements from a global network of tracking stations, along with highly accurate atmospheric models and algorithms to generate Trimble RTX corrections. These corrections are then broadcast to the receiver via a set of geostationary satellites or over the Internet, which the receiver uses to improve the accuracy of its GNSS positions.

While stand-alone GNSS positioning without corrections provides horizontal accuracies that are typically more than one meter, Trimble RTX correction services can provide horizontal accuracies better than two centimeters—ideal for pre-construction activities.

Imagine the possibilities of an RTX-enabled ground-based survey solution such as Boston Dynamics’ Spot the robot dog as a pre-construction tool for gathering as-built conditions inside or out?

As contractors continue to expand their high-tech toolboxes, keep in mind that many of the systems and solutions used to drive project productivity can also better prepare your crews for success before ever putting blade to dirt.

Dredge Contractor ‘Sees’ Under Water and Dredge to a 3D Design

 

Real-time positioning and visualisation from SITECH NZ and Trimble’s Marine Construction Software (TMC) and positioning technologies, help contractors tackle landmark dredging and remediation project.

Working under a consortium headed by EnviroWaste Services Limited, NZPGS was hired for a large-scale canal remediation project for Whakatane’s Kopeopeo Canal in New Zealand. Because of the complexity of the dredging required, coupled with extensive decontamination work ,NZPGS,s engineering team turned to SITECH NZ and Trimble Marine for help with positioning and 3D real-time visualisation of work.

TerrusM – Fast Mobile Mapping

After recognising a gap in the marketplace for large scale maps, UPG, part of the SITECH Construction Systems Group, has become an authorised distributor of TerrusM, a lightweight, portable mobile scanner that rapidly documents and manages large scale assets in the underground, and quarry industries.

This mobile mapping platform fits easily to light and large vehicles and collects map data in busy environments easily using a simple touch screen interface.

For more information on TerrusM visit our website or talk to our TerrusM experts.

SITECH and BuildingPoint Software Solutions Just Got Bigger

 

BuildingPoint Australia and SITECH Constructions Systems recently announced the addition of Trimble Tilos, Quest, and Quantm to their software portfolio. This civil suite of software solutions is to complement their vertical build solutions like Tekla, IDEA StatiCa, and SketchUp. This commitment by BuildingPoint is to continue to expand its strategy of a connected digital environment to support the full construction life cycle. 

Trimble Tilos was acquired by Trimble in March 2015 to expand its heavy civil engineering capabilities and to integrate with Trimble’s geospatial technologies to track and record in real-time Jobsite progress automatically. 

Trimble Tilos is a world-class linear infrastructure project management software tool, specifically created to make linear project planning easy.  This robust scheduling software combines time and distance into one graphical view, successfully planning large, multi-layered, and spread-out civil construction projects.  Tilos provides the confidence to know the exact status of a project without the guesswork, and outputs are highly visual and easily deciphered by owners and constructions workers alike. 

“Tilos isn’t just for planners,” explains Andrew Farley, AEC Software Manager BuildingPoint, “it’s designed for engineers, project managers, project schedulers, and project owners too”.  

Trimble Quest estimating software is designed for civil engineering contractors who need detailed cost estimates to effectively bid and manage budgets for civil construction projects.  A cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) estimating and budget management software for civil construction professionals, the software allows contractors to develop a bid quickly, track and control budgets and ensure profitability. This is done by creating a pricing database, which can be reused from project to project, improving the speed and accuracy of the preconstruction and bidding process. 

“Quest is more than just a cost estimating solution, it provides forecasting and business intelligence for construction projects, as well as being best suited to linear infrastructure projects,” said Andrew.  “It will help company growth by predicting revenue and unify on-site execution with construction project planning.” 

Trimble Quantm Alignment Planning solution supports road and rail planners and engineers through the complex process of selecting and generating 3D corridors and alignments. Plan a new high-speed, freight, or passenger rail project, or a new highway project, more rapidly with lower construction costs.  Unique route optimisation technology generates millions of alternative alignments and returns a range of 10-50 of the best options for review by various stakeholders 

“Quantm integrates engineering, environmental, social, and economic factors into a real-time analysis of alignment alternatives, allowing designers and planners to identify how to best minimise environmental and social impacts to linear infrastructure projects while reducing construction costs.  Used at every stage of alignment planning, from initial scoping to feasibility, detailed planning, pre, and post-bid engineering studies, Quantm really does create a competitive edge over other players in the market” comments Andrew. 

BuildingPoint Australia is your authorised reseller, and we have our experts on hand to demo and chat with you and your team about these Trimble Solutions.  Call 1800 900 272 for more information or Click on the images below to see the products in detail:

                    

Trimble GuidEx is the future in machine guidance

Trimble GuidEx is an advanced machine navigation solution intended to quickly and efficiently guide machines along route corridors or to point/pad targets while providing local awareness using exclusion and inclusion zones.

Built to meet the needs of resource exploration activities, this system improves productivity and awareness with easy, efficient, task-specific navigation.

Trimble GuidEx provides crossline navigation along predefined routes via an integrated light bar, including visual and audible alarms when operators breach user-defined distances from a centre line.

Trimble GuidEx also provides point/ pad navigation information with intuitive navigational arrows, supported by a wide variety of data recording settings.

For ultimate flexibility and mobility install and quickly calibrate the Trimble GuidEx system on anything from utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) to heavy equipment, on or off-road.

The Trimble GuidEx Machine Guidance System offers flexible machine guidance for virtually any machine type.

Intuitive Software, Rugged Hardware -Built to meet the needs of resource exploration activities but can be used in many more applications, this system improves productivity and awareness with easy, efficient, task-specific navigation, featuring colorful graphics and a user-friendly and intuitive interface.