Taking the Volume out of End of Month

uav-1Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Trimble’s Connected Site

Whether monitoring progress against the plan or calculating volume-based payments, end of month volumetric surveys are an indispensable part of heavy civil construction projects. But the traditional survey methods require boots on the ground, and plenty of them – dedicated surveyors lugging equipment, clambering over stockpile after stockpile, setting-up, recording and post-processing – all in the name of accuracy. Aside from the obvious time and cost commitments, these methods are likely to raise the heart-rate of any occupational health and safety officer.

Enter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or ‘drones’ as they are more colloquially known.

Using a UAV, data can be collected from the entire site in a fraction of the time, with the same if not better accuracy and without the safety risks of traditional survey methods. Depending on site size, data can be processed overnight to output next-day deliverables, namely:

  1. a high-resolution, geo-referenced colour orthophoto image; and
  2. a 3D digital elevation model.

The orthophoto image is an informative and illustrative accompaniment to the 3D digital elevation model and allows project stakeholders to visually assess the entire project site and make comparisons on a regular basis, for example, visual comparisons of changes and progress on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis.

The 3D digital elevation model allows project stakeholders to calculate accurate volumetric measurements of stockpiles, pits, extractions, subsidence and so on in order to assess progress against the plan, calculate volume-based payments or to determine, for example, if there’s enough material for cut and fill.

Using Trimble’s Connected Site software solution, data captured with the UAV can be uploaded to “Trimble Business Centre – HCE” and, by way of the 3D digital elevation model, volume reports can be made available in the cloud for viewing in “VisionLink”; anywhere, anytime. These reports can be scheduled, together with UAV flights and processing, on a regular basis, be it end of month or otherwise.

The application of UAV’s with Trimble’s Connected Site for regular site surveys is not only a win on time, costs and safety, but also for the stakeholder’s overall project understanding, enabling easier and more accessible billing and project progress tracking.

Two commercial, ready-to-market, aerial imaging UAV platforms – the Sensefly eBee and the Trimble UX5 are available from our partner company, UPG. Both UAVs have options for high accuracy RTK GNSS on board, virtually eliminating the need for ground control. The application of UAV’s on a construction site forms a crucial part of the whole-of-site solution with Trimble’s Connected Site.

If you would like to learn more about how UAVs can make your end of month easier contact us.