C+S July 2021 Vol. 7 Issue 7 (web)

panding reservoirs to realigning flood control channels to installing underground pipelines. Lately, Whitaker has been working on landfill construction projects. These massive earthwork projects mean moving, tracking, and mea- suring lots of dirt. “With Trimble Stratus, we’ve been able to figure out where the dirt is, where it needs to go, where it’s coming from, how much cut we have, how much fill we have,” said Bousman. The use of the technology has also helped better plan large construc- tion projects, which are notoriously complicated by tight project schedules and budgets. Everything needs to run like a well-oiled ma- chine to stay on track. Too often this isn’t the case with work divided among different contractors and surveyors constantly overbooked. Bousman said, “With the near real-time mapping, we’re able to better manage our part of a larger work packages.” For instance, Whitaker was contracted to perform some grading and paving work on roadways, following foundation work that was per- formed by another contractor. “With the drone data, we’re able to

check their progress, which has allowed us to protect our scope of work and optimize our crews and equipment,” he explained. Using Trimble Stratus can help resolve disputes, as well. On one of Whitaker’s jobs, crews had an abundance of extra material on site, but no one believed the new numbers. “We sat down and looked through it on Trimble Stratus,” recalled Bousman. “It took a little bit because the quantities were off from estimated projections. With the Stratus numbers, we were able to show that we’d calculated correctly.” The drone data has also helped build relationships with owners. “I can quickly and easily show owners how much work we’ve completed. The maps are accurate enough to facilitate mid-project adjustments,” he explained. “It’s a quicker process too. It’s far more cost-effective for me to do it than having an auditor or surveyor out there.” When Whitaker does start on a project, Bousman said he feels more prepared thanks to drone surveying because he can get the answers he needs fast. He concludes, “With a 3D model, GPS, and a drone, I can survey a job very quickly—and that means we’re better prepared to meet any heavy civil or earthwork challenge that comes our way.”

The adoption of drone technology has increased rapidly in heavy con- struction over the last three years, with systems becoming easier to use while providing more data at higher accuracies. New ways contractors are leveraging drone data for jobsite management By Troy Dahlin

Today, there are more than 1.7 million drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in use, and 203,000 remote pilots are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Moreover, those numbers are almost certain to increase in the years ahead.


july 2021


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