Transforming Construction Setout and Monitoring with Latest Surveying Technology

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Technology has transformed nearly every aspect of construction over the past decade, and things are just heating up when it comes to surveying and site monitoring. As both small custom builders and large standardised developers look to improve efficiency, safety, and quality assurance, some incredibly powerful tools have hit the market that are allowing surveyors to work smarter.

I don’t know about you, but I used to think of surveying as a pretty slow, manual, and even boring task. Sure, survey crews have been using fancy specialised equipment forever, but the workflows hadn’t changed much over the years. Data was still captured and processed more or less the same way. Boy was I wrong!

The latest drones, scanning systems, augmented platforms and guidance technologies have turned site surveying and monitoring into a high-tech, automated operation. We can now quickly develop detailed 3D site maps, identify changes in real-time, enhance accuracy substantially, and access hard to reach areas. It’s really amazing how quickly and accurately teams can now track site conditions.

In this article, I wanted to give an overview of some of the most impactful new surveying tech hitting jobsites. From automated total stations, to 3D laser scanning, to VR dashboard —several groundbreaking tools are transforming construction setout and monitoring. Let’s check them out!

Drones have exploded onto almost every jobsite nowadays. Equipped with high-res cameras and mapping sensors, even affordable commercial drones can quickly develop detailed 3D site maps and models. Before earthwork even starts, designers can identify terrain challenges and planners can quantify cut and fill volumes within a very narrow margin of error.

These birds-eye site views are hugely valuable for project monitoring too. With regular scheduled flyovers, project managers can visualise site changes in stark detail week-over-week or even day-by-day. Having an on-demand aerial perspective allows teams to make much faster decisions to keep timelines and budgets on track. Drones have even proven useful for inspections on tall structures or gaining views inside confined spaces.

Robotic total stations have also started displacing traditional survey equipment. These automated systems can remain fixed onsite while performing dynamic measurements in all directions. As the name suggests, the instrument articulates itself without a surveyor needing to hold and adjust it manually. This allows the total station to track changes in real time all day. Teams simply monitor a constant stream of data on targets that they have distributed strategically across the project site.

By cutting down on physical measurements, the automated solution provides way more data points than possible manually. This leads directly to enhanced accuracy and precision in pick up of site activity. Project controls teams can even link total station networks directly into machine control systems on earthmoving equipment so operators have live cut/fill data!

Speaking of machine control, integration with surveying and layout data has automated construction equipment to highly precise degrees. Graders, dozers, excavators, and more are now fitted with GPS and other guidances systems that integrate directly with site design models and data.

Operators can literally watch machine blades and buckets move in real time visualisation against the 3D construction plans. It ensures compliance to correct dimensions, alignment, and elevations without having to constantly wait for new survey staking or check quality after. This prevents over-cutting, rework, and serious delays.

On the design side, project teams have a hugely powerful new tool at their disposal – 3D laser scanning. Specialised LIDAR units can be set up anywhere on site to capture millions of high-accuracy data points. This creates an ultra-realistic as-built model of existing conditions before demolition or renovation. Engineers integrate the scan data with architecture and MEP models to coordinate tight spaces and clashes proactively.

For builders, the scans verify final interior and exterior dimensions to identify any deficiencies immediately. And for safety, engineers can model weak structures, sagging floors, or dangerous terrain in detail well before sending any workers onsite. The fidelity of data is remarkable, right down to pipe locations behind walls or rebar density inside concrete.

Finally, the latest visualisation platforms are making it easier than ever for project managers to monitor key surveying inputs and site changes. Virtual reality and augmented reality tools allow teams to ingest massive reality capture datasets, 3D BIM models, drone maps, and schematics into intuitive dashboards.

Managers can visualise and interact with these complex information sources in new ways. VR headsets can give an immersive perspective that feels like walking the site. AR overlays on mobile devices show hidden data like underground utilities on top of a live camera feed. And back in the field office, operations teams have access to powerful data analytics, custom reports, and projections on wall mounted displays.

The hardware for VR/AR and other advanced visualisation continues to get lighter, cheaper, and more versatile too. Many solutions are cloud-based or work on standard smartphones or tablets now. It makes viewing and interacting with surveying data easier for more team members who aren’t modelling experts. They see issues quicker in the field and can make smarter decisions.

So in summary, the latest construction setout and monitoring technologies really enhance efficiency, accuracy, integration and accessibility for surveying and inspection teams. By working smarter – not necessarily harder – builders are speeding up timelines, reducing scrap, and focusing their valuable expertise into quality assurance instead of manual data gathering. And clients ultimately benefit from better standardised builds and proactive planning. Exciting stuff in the survey and monitoring world!

It’s clear the latest drone, scanning, automation and visualisation tools are transforming the discipline of construction surveying. Tasks that previously required exhaustive manual measurements, dangerous climbs, estimation guesswork, and static documents are now streamlined data-rich processes.

The time and safety dividends are massive. Survey crews spend less resources on gathering regional samples and can instead focus efforts on critical quality assurance tasks. Routine monitoring, change identification, and as-built verification become near constant accurate capabilities. And accessibility barriers on topographies or structures are eliminated with easy deploy aerial and scanning solutions.

And with integrated platforms like GIS, machine control, and mixed reality dashboards, it’s faster than ever for project managers to analyse surveying inputs and action key decisions. They have an omnipresent birds-eye view of the site to reference without actually hovering above!

While emerging technology means surveyors must add new technical expertise to their already demanding skill set, the gains for builders and clients are tremendous. Projects meet tighter margins, move faster, and avoid major rework. And there are fewer safety risks with better quantified terrain and structures.

As these surveying tools become more standardised and user-friendly, adoption will only accelerate across small and mega projects alike. The construction industry is poised to benefit from smarter workflows, interconnectivity between systems, and democratisation of previously specialised data gathering. The future of surveying has arrived!

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Got a query related to land development for your Melbourne property, or want the advice of a private land surveyor based in Melbourne? For more information about our land  surveying services in Victoria, contact Stacey Surveying today by calling 03 9088 3695 or completing our convenient online contact form.

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