What Are the Limits of Using Drones in Construction?

Drones are very useful tools for any construction project, but they aren’t without some challenges. There are some limitations to the use of drones in construction, as well as potential complications. Using a company that specializes in drone technology can help you navigate some of these challenges.

Drone Regulations Continue to Change

Rapidly changing regulations can make it confusing for people to get the permits they need, especially if aerial scanning has to be completed in urban areas, like construction sites in the midst of large cities. It may even be difficult to even determine which permits need to be acquired. 

A company that specializes in drone technology will be able to help a construction company navigate these regulations, especially since said regulations may change given the relative newness of drone technology. Changing regulations and permitting processes may occasionally delay a project, but these concerns are primarily for those who work in large, urban areas.

For open spaces and rural locations, drone permits generally aren’t as much of a concern.

Optimal Use of a Drone Requires the Services of a Trained Professional

Drone scans shouldn’t be done by just anyone. If a scan isn’t done by a trained professional, the drones can return inaccurate, incomplete, or erratic results. An improperly controlled drone can even cause property damage. Drones take training to be able to fly well, and the aerial surveying and scanning systems require further training and experience. Imagine a world where you need to send a drone out again because the first scan didn’t get all the data it needed to!

Drones Have a Limited Flight Time

Due to their batteries, drones can only fly for a limited amount of time. If a project must be completed urgently but involves covering a large area, multiple drones may need to be used to ensure complete coverage – or a project manager may want to look into other, potentially more suitable, technology.

Drone technology is changing all the time, and as their battery power is extended, the use of drones in construction grows increasingly practical. For most aerial mapping projects, drones will be more than sufficient. Completing regular maintenance scans is a valuable use of drones in construction, and it generally isn’t time dependent. 

Drones Don’t Fly Well in High Wind Conditions

While drones are agile and reliable, they can’t deal well with high winds. Drones are lightweight and small; high winds can blow them off course and make it impossible for them to get consistent readings. Luckily, it’s rare that a project is so urgent that an inspection or survey cannot wait until high wind conditions have dispersed.

There are certain locations, however, that may regularly experience high winds, and drones will not be as suitable to those locations. When it comes to high winds, airplanes are often used for aerial scanning, as they can fly over the terrain without much issue. Helicopters are another viable option that can safely fly closer to the ground than airplanes can.

Drones May Require a Specialized Data Pipeline

As advanced technology, drone data often needs to be analyzed through a specialized data flow. While this does limit the use of drone technology to companies with access to advanced analytics services, there are a multitude of reasons why construction managers should be embracing complex data analysis like Building Information Modeling.

The need for a specialized data pipeline can be subverted by partnering with a company that manages and analyzes data in-house. An in-house data processing service will be able to provide surveying data in a way that can be understood and utilized by the client company, like 3D maps or charts.

Though there are some limitations to using drones for aerial mapping and construction, they’re still an incredibly useful and versatile technology. Companies such as Landpoint specialize in using and implementing drone technology, but Landpoint – unlike many other mapping and surveying companies – also provides surveys through other aerial scanning vehicles. 

Regardless of their limitations, drones remain a powerful tool in the arsenal of any construction project manager or director. Contact Landpoint today to learn how an aerial survey can make your next project easier.

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Aerial Imaging Services: A Primer

If you need aerial imaging done, what technology will you use? There are a lot of options open to you, and there isn’t always a clear winner. When choosing your aerial imaging services, you will usually choose both the imaging technology and the aerial vehicle. Any combination of these may be available, so let’s look at the options that may prove to be the best for your specific project.

Different Types of Aerial Imaging

Aerial imaging technology is the way an aerial survey scans the terrain and provides actionable data that can be analyzed. Today, there are two primarily used technologies: LiDAR and photogrammetry.

  • LiDAR. LiDAR technology is currently the most advanced aerial technology today, often used for aerial mapping with drones or other aircraft. LiDAR technology uses lasers to read the terrain below an aerial craft, creating extremely accurate sets of data. Lasers can penetrate brush and thin obstructions like cloth, providing accurate scans even on overgrown terrain.
  • Photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is an older technology that uses photographs to generate imagery based on positioning, perspective, and other captured data. As photogrammetry uses photographs, it can provide coloring along with textured terrain, something that LiDAR scanning cannot. However, because photogrammetry uses 2D photos for analysis, it may not always be as accurate.
  • Combined. Some projects will use both LiDAR and photogrammetry together, producing a highly detailed 3D map in real color. This combination is typically the most intuitively understood by untrained observers, but it will also be more time-consuming and expensive, and may not be necessary for the vast majority of projects.

Your project’s budget and your needed levels of accuracy are going to determine which type of technology is better for you. While LiDAR will always be more accurate, photogrammetry is often more affordable.

Different Types of Aerial Vehicle

Once the surveying technology has been decided upon, the vehicle that is used to capture information needs to be chosen. Different vehicles have different strengths. 

  • Helicopter. Helicopters can fly for a long period of time and can hover close to the ground. However, helicopters need to be manned, and no matter how safe an inspection is, there is always the risk of crew injury due to an accident. Helicopters take longer to deploy than drones do, but can function in weather that may prove an obstacle to drone flights.
  • Plane. Planes are best for surveys over large plots of land, as they fly much faster and at a higher height. They are the most expensive option and do require a manned crew, which can drive up the cost. At the same time, planes are usually more stable during inclement weather than helicopters or drones are. Planes can also take some time to deploy due to the complexity of the craft and the need for crew.
  • Satellite. Traditional satellite mapping refers to a low-resolution map produced by satellites in orbit. Satellite data can be purchased through a satellite company, but it typically won’t provide significant enough resolution for most applications. It’s usually used for preliminary information about a location.
  • UAV. Aerial mapping with drones is rapidly becoming standard, as UAVs are the most versatile option. UAVs are able to fly close to the ground and capture high resolution imagery without any threat to a manned crew. UAVs can be deployed quickly and can finish most aerial surveys within a day, though larger surveys may tax the drone’s range and battery power.

Aerial imaging services are swiftly moving towards drone use as the primary platform for imaging services, but there are still circumstances in which a company may want to use a helicopter or a plane. 

Choosing the Right Aerial Imaging Services

Drone technology tends to provide the best benefits overall, and makes sense for most projects. Still, there are a number of different options available, depending on your project’s unique needs. Working with a company that can provide multiple types of aerial imaging, such as Landpoint, can ensure that you use the right technology for your project. 

Could your next construction or energy project benefit from a detailed aerial imaging service? Contact Landpoint to learn more about how you can put this technology to work

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4 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil and Gas Drones

Drones can provide a number of benefits for companies in the oil and gas industry, from reducing costs to improving safety. By integrating drones into their operations, oil and gas companies can improve their surveying, regular maintenance checks, and safety and business processes. Here are some of the hidden benefits of using oil and gas drones. 

1. Provide Detailed 3D Models for Superior Planning and Accuracy

During pipeline development, drones can be used to produce accurate high-resolution surveys. As pipeline development becomes increasingly complex, it becomes necessary to produce increasingly detailed surveys. Drones can be used with technology like LiDAR to get detailed information about terrain, even if that terrain is overgrown and covered with brush.

Better planning and accuracy leads to fewer delays, which can be extraordinarily costly during the process of development. It also leads to fewer incidental issues; finding out that a survey is incorrect or incomplete after the fact can lead to the project needing to be dramatically revised. Altogether, drones speed up and improve upon the process of conducting a survey.

Detailed 3D models can further be used to simulate further development or to test out developments before ground is broken. These 3D models are accurate enough to be used to predict how buildings and structures will interact with future changes. 

2. Maintain Safety Inspections for Improved Environmental and Worker Safety

Oil fields and oil and gas pipelines may not be inspected very often due to the prohibitive cost of ground inspections. Drones can be used for regular aerial inspections, to identify potential issues with work sites, and to improve environmental and worker safety. These inspections can be done faster and more regularly than ground surveys, and so may catch potential safety issues before they become problems.

A single environmental issue can cause millions of dollars in damages, and worker safety issues can damage morale. Having drone safety inspections will increase accountability around a work site and improve its safety record. In addition to surveying for worker safety, drones can inspect locations that would otherwise be prohibitively difficult or unsafe for crew to inspect, due to remoteness, rough terrain, or suspected leaks of hazardous material.

3. Complete Surveys and Inspections for Lower Costs of Maintenance

Surveys and inspections completed through drones cost less, thereby improving an oil and gas company’s bottom line. Lower costs of maintenance can relate directly to the profitability of an oil and gas project, which is important given the fact that oil and gas companies can often fluctuate dramatically in terms of revenue.

In addition to surveying for worker safety, drones are also able to survey for issues related to damage, repair, and maintenance. Commonly, drones can be used to survey a pipeline for visible overgrowth, which can break down the pipeline over time and cause costly issues. Through proactive repairs and maintenance, an oil and gas company can reduce the chances of more serious, costly issues. 

4. Improve Equipment Maintenance through Integration with IoT

In addition to regular pipeline surveying services, drones can be connected directly with sensors and IoT devices to automatically detect issues with equipment. Heat sensors, for instance, can see whether equipment may be running too hot, while communications with IoT devices could discover whether there are meters that are running too high.

By integrating drones with advanced, new technology, an oil and gas field company can create an intelligent network that can identify potential issues with its equipment early, using big data to determine when equipment may fail before it shows signs of failing, and creating better business processes through its analytics. 

These are only some of the major benefits to using oil and gas drones; there are many more besides. Professional drone services have a wide array of benefits for oil and gas companies, from pipeline development to the maintenance of oil rigs and sites. For more information on how drone surveys and inspection can be a critical asset to your next oil or gas project, contact Landpoint today.

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Landpoint Acquires Land Surveying Firm Town and Country Surveyors

Landpoint, a national land surveying and mapping company, announces its recent acquisition of Town and Country Surveyors, LLC. Town and Landpoint acquires Town and Country SurveyorsCountry Surveyors was established in 2003 and has become local leader of surveying services in The Woodlands, TX.

“Town and Country has done a fantastic job in creating a reliable and successful company in the area” says James Souter, CEO of Landpoint. “There are many unique opportunities in partnering with this group of professionals that will benefit customers in the region. We look forward to expanding operations in the area and working closely with the additional team members that have joined our organization” Souter added.

Town and Country Surveyors operates in many different industry sectors including communications, commercial and civil development, and oil and gas. The existing management team at the company has years of experience in the local market. All employees will remain onboard with the company and operations will continuing to run normally.

Landpoint will be upgrading the current operational capacity of Town and Country Surveyors by combining offices with Landpoint’s existing personnel in The Woodlands and providing the company with new high precision surveying equipment, extending UAV (drone) services to existing customers, and implementing new business processes that help automate and improve efficiencies.

About Landpoint
Landpoint is an award winning company of land surveyors and technical specialists. The company provides services to engineering firms, oil and gas companies, and land development companies, as well as to the transportation and residential markets. The value added services and solutions offered by Landpoint are unmatched in the industry, allowing customers to realize significant time and cost savings.

To learn more about Landpoint’s services in The Woodlands, TX and around the country, visit www.landpoint.net.

How New Technology Equals Better Engineering Support

professional land surveyorToday’s civil and construction engineers need access to the right information at the right time in order to support fast, accurate and efficient work. In order to get the visibility they need, engineers depend on engineering support services like land surveying.

In the past, land surveying was a time-consuming process that could seriously delay an engineer’s work. However, there are new technologies in use today that enable engineers to get the visibility and information they need quickly, by significantly speeding up the land surveying process.

Read on to learn more about some of these surveying technologies and to find out how you can put them to work for your organization.

Laser Scanner Surveying

High definition scanning is an innovative technology that allows land surveyors to create detailed representations of a terrain and structures without having to individually visit each point of interest on the job site. Laser scanner surveying helps engineers do their jobs better by providing a more detailed deliverable, and doing it much quicker than a traditional land survey. With terrestrial laser scanning, a process that once took months can now be completed in a matter of a few days, making sure that engineers never have to wait to get the information they need.

High definition scanning, also referred to as LiDAR, works by bouncing laser beams off the terrain and recording a point everywhere the laser hits a surface. Once the area has been scanned, the result is a “point cloud” made up of millions of different points. These millions of points represent a level of detail that engineers could never dream of seeing in the past.

3D Modeling

Once a professional land surveyor has collected data using high definition scanning, they can use those data points to create a survey-grade 3D model of the area. Using this extremely detailed model, engineers are able to get an up-close look at the terrain, without having to waste time by traveling the location themselves.

3D modeling from the point cloud gives engineers a more detailed and accurate look at the terrain and structures they’re going to be working on, and does so in a fraction of the time required to complete a traditional land survey. Also, these models can be used to help inform the survey documents that will drive the entire project forward, ensuring that engineers and all other key stakeholders will always have the information they need right at their fingertips. It’s really no wonder that so many engineers are excited about the possibilities of using 3D modeling as an engineering support tool.

Aerial Mapping

Finally, today’s engineers no longer have to be limited to terrain visibility that is captured from ground level. Using either fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, or UAV’s, a professional land surveyor has the ability to conduct aerial mapping. This technique can work using a variety of different scanning methods, including the high definition laser scanning described above.

Unlike aerial photography, which merely provides a visual of what the terrain looks like from above, aerial mapping can give engineers a detailed 3D rendering of the terrain, displaying every crack and hole in astonishing detail. Since aircraft have a far greater range of visibility when operating from above than land surveyors do when operating from ground level, aerial mapping can allow quick and efficient scanning of a large area, making it the perfect technology to use on very large engineering projects.

To learn more about new technologies that help engineers work quicker and more effectively,contact Landpoint today.

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Landpoint Awarded Third Place on 2014 ZweigWhite Hot Firm List

zweigwhite2014Landpoint is excited to announce that it has been awarded the #3 spot on the 2014 ZweigWhite Hot Firm List. This marks the third consecutive year that the company has been awarded a spot on the exclusive list which ranks the top 100 fastest growing firms in the A/E/P and environmental consulting industry.

“We are thrilled to have placed so high on this year’s list” says James Souter, CEO of Landpoint. “Our team has worked very hard to support and control the growth we’ve been experiencing.”

Landpoint has grown to more than 220 professionals, from land surveyors to licensed professional engineers, who are located across the nation. Many of its operations are located in extremely active energy development zones. The company has secured long term relationships with some of the largest clients in the Eagle Ford, Permian Basin, Haynesville Shale, and other emerging oil and gas formations. Additionally, Landpoint and its subsidiaries provide surveying and engineering services for municipalities, construction firms, and industrial companies.

The list looks at more than 100,000 firms located in the United States and Canada and only recognizes those who have outperformed the economy and their competitors. The economic recovery is well underway as firms on the list in 2014 boast an impressive median growth rate of 72 percent, up significantly from 44 percent in 2013.

“Getting on The ZweigWhite Hot Firm list is a tremendous achievement,” said Mark Zweig, ZweigWhite founder. “That’s especially true now the economy is doing better,” Zweig added. “The goal post is getting higher”

The Hot Firm award is the most recent of several accolades presented to Landpoint for 2014. Earlier this year the Association for Corporate Growth awarded Landpoint with the “Deal of the Year” award after successfully creating and executing a long-term acquisition strategy and integration platform. In 2013 Landpoint completed transactions with King Surveyors of Windsor, Colorado and West Company of Midland in Midland, TX.

Landpoint Acquires Two Other Land Surveying Companies, Awarded “Deal of the Year”

Oil and Gas ProjectsLandpoint scored big at the annual D CEO/ACG Mergers & Acquisitions Awards event held May 6 in Dallas, winning the award for “Deal of the Year” in its category.  The award was based on the Landpoint’s recent acquisition of two other land surveying companies: West Company of Midland, LLC. in Midland, Texas and the Fort Collins, Colorado based King Surveyors, LLC., last year.

The company’s deals topped competitors in the category of similar transactions, worth up to $50 million. The company now has more than 220 employees and nine office locations in five states – including its new Midland, Texas regional office with a primary focus on oil & natural gas infrastructure development.

“We are honored to have caught the attention of D CEO and ACG’s Mergers & Acquisitions Awards panel,” said company Vice President Chad Souter. “We were very confident in our initial strategy and it’s exciting to receive recognition from leaders in the M&A industry.”

Landpoint’s strategy included diversifying its client base and geographical exposure through acquisitions that paralleled the organic growth strategy of the company. Landpoint has become a platform for future acquisitions and has automated many processes for integration and development plans. The combined land surveying companies of Landpoint, King Surveyors, and West Company of Midland now hold a significant market share for top production and midstream companies throughout the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin, as well as the Niobrara and Haynesville shale plays.

The awards, presented by D CEO and the Association for Corporate Growth, highlighted four different categories: small, midsize, large and mega deals, as well as a handful of dealmakers for businesses in the North Texas region. The North Texas economy and growth of mergers and acquisitions has come back strong in recent years. The awards focused on 38 deals with a total of $45.7 billion for 2013.

Improve Your Construction Project with High Definition Surveying

high definition scanningWhen it comes to commercial and industrial remodeling projects or the expansion of existing infrastructure, it is important to know everything you can about the proposed project – from the ground it sits on to how the new construction will blend with the old. A licensed land surveyor can help you to find out about those issues with high definition surveying and 3D modeling services. The information gained from surveying techniques like these can help to increase a business owner’s confidence in the project, as well as, keep the project on time and on budget.

Why Use 3D Laser Scanning for Construction

High definition scanning gives architects and engineers information that they can use to design projects. This information can help the architects and engineers prepare for emergencies and plan for the future, such as what could happen to a building during a catastrophic flood or earthquake.

The information from the high definition surveying process can then be used to create a 3D model that shows how the project will eventually come together – how it will look and how structurally sound it will be. Additionally, the models can be used in a BIM workspace for extensive projects.

Choosing a land surveying company that provides high definition surveying and 3D modeling can help to speed up a construction project by providing accurate measurements and information about potential hazards that designers can then mitigate. This not only keeps the project on schedule, but also plays a part in keeping the project on budget. Documents created through these scanning services can be transformed into survey documents that help construction crews and engineers to better understand the overall project.

Our experienced team can help you choose the services that will get your project started and keep it moving smoothly. Contact us today to learn more about 3D laser scanning for construction projects, as well as the other services we offer.

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