Construction Earthworks Monitoring
Lot's of dirt is moved around on construction sites. Earthworks is an often undervalued piece of the overall construction project.
Earthworks is certainly not easy if you want to make a profit. It’s an ultra competitive industry, with high equipment costs, high risk and tight margins. The difference between success and failure is razor thin.
Even a relatively small site could have simultaneous stripping, common excavation and gravel stockpiling. Each material and associated activity must be independently tracked. Simultaneously tracking multiple activities requires significant effort.
Drones can assist with earthworks monitoring in quickly providing accurate data to keep your project on track, accurately and quickly providing definitive quantity reports and progress monitoring and as built surveys to easily monitor levels.
How Do Drones Help with Earthworks Monitoring?
Drones have become increasingly popular and are now seen as more than just a cool toy. Many industries are now introducing drones into their businesses and the construction industry is no exception to this trend.
Using either photogrammetry or LiDAR, drones are now able to collect vast amounts of accurate data, over a large area in a short amount of time.
That data can be processed and shared quickly and so becomes a point of collaboration and enables managers and engineers to makes decisions quickly based on up to date information.
This is turn reducing the chance of costly mistakes, or at least will catch them early.
Why Are Drones Used In Construction?
There are several reasons as to why drones are becoming increasingly popular across construction sites and that is for their ability to provide high quality data through topographic mapping and land surveying.
Whilst it is vital that the drones provide us with accurate data, it is also imperative to do so in a safe manner. From equipment tracking to remote monitoring, the data produced can allow any onsite managers to make better decisions. If a dangerous obstacle has arisen during the course of construction, then pre-emptive measures can be taken before an accident occurs. This alone would greatly increase the general safety of any work site.
On top of this, many commercial quality drones provide very accurate information, with it being rare for any false or misleading information to be produced.
How Can Drones Help
Some use cases for drones in a construction/ earthwork project:
Geodetic measurements and 3D-digital terrain models calculations
Calculation of vehicles load and routes
Analysis of the amount of work performed during the reporting period and statistics on performance
Work progress prediction based on current indicators
Automatic report generation information with KPIs
For most field engineers, there’s a simple reason for using drones for earthworks: speed. It can take hours to walk the jobsite and measure aggregates and stockpiles with traditional workflows, and then it usually takes 1-2 days to process the data and produce the final deliverables. Drones are doing this work in a fraction of the time.
By using a drone to carry out your site survey, data can be collected quickly, allowing surveyors and engineers to focus on what they do best, rather than spending days collecting data.
Data derived from drone surveys is useful for quantifying earth works, stockpile volumes, materials management plan (MMP), as built surveys and much more.
A 100ha (250a) site can be captured in a single day!
Once the site is digitized, it can be verified and cleaned prior to calculations being performed.
For example, machinery and equipment can be removed so they do not skew cut and fill calculations.
Terrain models can be derived and used in CAD software as if site engineers had captured it them selves.
The major difference, aside from speed, is the detailed amount of data, not possible with traditional methods.
DroneWorks use RTK enabled drones in addition to ground control points (GCP's) to ensure you are receiving survey grade data that you can rely on.
An estimator can’t bid on or start a project until they know exactly how much material needs to be moved to match a design surface.
Reaching Areas Which Are Unreachable or Unsafe to Go
Large, busy sites, especially excavation areas, will be unsafe. Using drones we can cover 100% of the site with minimal risk.
Drones are small enough, as well as capable of reaching those awkward angles or areas which most surveyors would feel uncomfortable exploring by themselves. After all, why put yourself in danger when a drone can collect the data for you?
Cut And Fill Analysis - Simple
To perform cut-and-fill analyses and comparisons, a topographic survey will be required, with data points collected on a grid throughout the site.
For large sites or areas with complex terrain, this survey can take days to perform, and post-processing the data typically takes another day.
Drones can dramatically reduced the manual work needed to perform a cut-and-fill: once aerial data is collected, drone software platforms can export into native Autodesk CAD file formats like that can be used in Civil 3D.
Understanding how much earth has been moved, and being able to compare against surface design, is an invaluable tool. We can compared against any other site survey or design, enabling the as-build vs design comparison in addition to as-builds over time.
An accurate earthwork take-off can improve client communication, optimize labour, and protect your bottom line.