Three Benefits of Using Drones for Pipeline Surveying

Building an oil and gas pipeline project is a major challenge for any organization to undertake. When it comes to building a successful pipeline, the costs and time requirements are high and the margin for error must be minimized. As a result, if organizations hope to complete a successful pipeline development project with no major interruptions and minimal unforeseen costs, it’s essential that they take advantage of the most advanced technologies available to them to collect as much data up front as possible.

One example of a technology that can help organizations experience better results with their pipeline projects is the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as drones. The benefits of drones for the land surveying portion of a pipeline project are numerous. We will cover three of the most important benefits in this post:

  • Completing large surveys with a high degree of accuracy
  • Turning around survey results quickly
  • Sharing the data with key contractors and stakeholders

3 Benefits of Drones for Pipeline Surveying Projects

Completing Large Surveys With A High Degree Of Accuracy

One of the chief challenges of pipeline projects is the sheer amount of distance they must cover, and nowhere is this challenge felt more than in the land surveying stage of the project. Of course, pipeline projects require a high degree of detail and accuracy, but organizations need a way to ensure that getting this accuracy doesn’t slow down the project too much.

Some UAVs can cover miles of linear coverage per day, meaning that they can fly the large distances required by pipeline projects much faster than traditional surveyors traversing the land. At the same time, UAVs can fly close to the ground while using high-resolution image capturing technology that offers up detail as fine as one centimeter per pixel. UAVs truly offer the best of both worlds when it comes to covering long distances and providing high levels of accuracy.

By bypassing difficult terrain altogether, UAVs allow a land surveyor to gather all of the information they might need without actually having to put people on the ground. Instead, surveyors can operate the UAVs from a position of complete safety. Additionally, the amount of data that is collected is exponentially more than that collected by traditional crews.

Turning Around Survey Results Quickly

Another important goal for land surveyors should be to complete their work as quickly as possible so that the pipeline can begin construction. However, this can’t take place if the results of the land survey require weeks or even months of processing time before they can be used. Working with a team of experienced UAV operators is not just a great way to speed up the actual data collection process; such an operator can also begin processing and analyzing that data immediately after it is captured.

As a result, land surveying results captured by UAVs are often processed and available for use within 24 -48 hours of when they were originally captured. This extremely fast turnaround enables organizations to start building their pipelines quicker, which in turn enables them to start experiencing returns quicker.

Sharing the UAV Data

Collecting massive amounts of data is pointless unless decision makers have a way to access the information easily and extract what they need.

Key divisions/subcontractors that should receive access to UAV data at the earliest possible stages include:

  • Surveyors (internal use)
  • Engineering
  • Environmental
  • Land / Right of Way
  • Project Managers
  • And any other companies (such as construction) who are authorized to view and bid on the upcoming project.

Sharing this data will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that bids are much more accurate since the most recent conditions along the route are available for analysis.

To learn more about the benefits of drones and how they can supplement traditional survey crews, contact Landpoint today.


Why Terrestrial LiDAR Surveys Should Be Standard for Municipal Projects

Municipal agencies face a variety of challenges when it comes to planning and executing successful projects: everything from making the most of limited taxpayer funding, to ensuring the proper level of transparency, to serving citizens as effectively as possible. In order to address these different challenges, municipalities need to make sure they are investing in the best technology available to them.

An example of a technology that can help municipalities get better results from their projects is LiDAR, or light detection and ranging. With Terrestrial LiDAR, also known as 3D laser scanning, municipal organizations can get highly detailed and accurate mapping information, which can provide them with a number of different benefits.

Simply put, LiDAR is a method of gathering data about distances using lasers. When using LiDAR, a surveyor would set up a laser scanner that emits a series of light points. These points will then bounce off an obstacle and then return to the scanner. As the light points return, the scanner can gather very detailed information about how far away the obstacle is based on how long it takes for the laser points to return. By combining many different data points into a point cloud, surveyors can build a very detailed representation of the building or terrain that’s being scanned. In turn, the organization can then use the point cloud to create detailed 3D models, which can serve a variety of different purposes for development and maintenance projects.

  • Before-Oil & Gas Facility
    After-Oil & Gas Facility
    Laser Scan Oil & Gas Facility Model

How Can LiDAR Benefit Municipal Agencies?

Although LiDAR can offer benefits that stretch across industries, there are a number of reasons that it’s a particularly good fit for municipal projects.

Making the most of taxpayer funding

Municipal projects must take their funding directly from the taxpayers of the city, which in turn makes it very important to make the most of that funding when pursuing major projects. LiDAR provides a relatively inexpensive way for municipal agencies to gather the data they need quickly and can also cover large areas with ease. In addition, the level of detail and accuracy that LiDAR scans can provide helps ensure that all projects can proceed quickly and smoothly. After a quick review of the point cloud, a project manager know exactly what they should expect before the project even gets started. This removes the potential for major delays later on in the project, which can add unexpected costs to the bottom line.

Detailed mapping and records

Every municipal project requires a high level of communication and data sharing in order to keep key stakeholders and contractors informed about what’s going on. Shared LiDAR data simplifies the process of compiling data, so that the project team can focus more of their time on actually designing and executing the project plan. Having a centralized shared site (link to: with a screenshot below as well) to share this data is extremely important.

If a municipal agency uses LiDAR to support a specific project, the value they can extract from that survey is truly limitless. Users are only beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to finding new uses for LiDAR scanning and the 3D insights it provides. It’s no exaggeration to say that just about every agency within a typical municipal government can find some use for the valuable data turned out by Terrestrial LiDAR scanning. Once the results of these scans are added to government records, they represent a treasure trove of insights that’s waiting to be unlocked at any time. To learn more about how LiDAR scanning can benefit municipal agencies, contact Landpoint today.