4 Ways Pipeline Surveying Services Are Changing

As the oil and gas industry continues to evolve, pipeline surveying has become even more important. Pipeline surveying has to be completed both thoroughly and efficiently; an inaccurate survey can be environmentally dangerous and physically hazardous, while a lengthy survey can cost a business substantial amounts of money due to commercial commitments. New technologies have made it easier for pipeline companies to get the results that they need in a cost-effective way. Here are a few ways in which pipeline services are changing.

1. UAVs Are Becoming Commonplace

Drones, also known as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), are steadily becoming more common throughout pipeline surveying. Traditional surveys were either done on foot or done by manned aerial vehicles. Neither of these were optimal solutions for many projects. On the ground, surveyors were often unable to get highly detailed information, needed to work slowly, and simply could not traverse some areas. In the air, manned vehicles were expensive and could not get high-resolution images of lower terrain. Both of these options were potentially risky to surveyors.

Comparatively, drones are great for pipeline surveying because they can cover large areas of the ground from a low vantage point, getting higher resolution images without any associated risk.

2. LiDAR is Being Used Interchangeably With Photogrammetry

Another technology that surveyors are utilizing to deliver more accurate results is LiDAR and Photogrammetry. LiDAR is a method of surveying that uses lasers to map the ground below. This mapping can cut straight through underbrush, thereby producing more accurate pictures of the terrain. As 3D modeling and simulations become more important to the process of construction, LiDAR becomes the more popular type of surveying. In more open areas, photogrammetry is the method of choice for producing point cloud deliverables, which used photos and 3D representations of the land to create a model of the terrain.

Though LiDAR is better for some situations, it is also more expensive.

3. Working With End-to-End Providers

In the past, surveying companies may have worked with data analysis firms or may have outsourced much of their work to third-parties. Today, pipeline surveying is better done by companies that can provide end-to-end service, collecting their data and analyzing their own data to create better, more accurate, and more consistent results.

Advances in Software-as-a-Service technology and cloud-based data processing has made it possible for more surveying companies to handle their own data, reducing their reliance upon third-party processors. This reduces potential delays as well as improving the overall accuracy of the process, as data does not have to change hands.

4. Bringing Data to the (Hybrid) Cloud

It’s easy to see the influence of the cloud across all industries, and pipeline surveying is no exception. Through a hybrid cloud, organizations are now able to connect to their surveying data from anywhere, thereby making it easier for project managers, engineers, and construction teams to all work together. Cloud access can provide for more thorough reporting and analysis, and ensure that data is not lost. Data storage itself has become prohibitively expensive otherwise, as many organizations need to collect tremendously large volumes of data for their 3D models.

It’s easy to see how pipeline surveying may look in five or even ten years. Not only are UAVs going to be used more often, but the quality and accuracy of scans are likely to continue to improve. 3D modeling is going to become more important at the early stages of project development, and many construction companies may start using augmented reality and virtual reality during their pipeline surveying.

As of now, pipeline surveying has become a faster, easier, and more reliable process through the adoption of new data collection and analysis technologies. From the advantages of aerial drones to the data processing power of the cloud, pipeline surveys are now safer, more affordable, and more efficient.


How Professional Land Surveyors Can Close the Gap Between Engineering and Construction

Intelligent modeling is becoming important to the engineering and construction industries, with organizations that support BIM now far more competitive than businesses that have not yet made the jump. BIM is still a new and emerging technology with many improvements to be made and applications to be discovered, and land surveying may be able to help bridge the gap that now exists between engineering and construction.

The Advantages of BIM

Business intelligence modeling creates accurate, 3D models of projects. Engineers can build structures and properties across surveyed land, in order to determine the most optimal configurations of these projects. 3D models create a more reliable simulation of the way that a project will be, identifying potential project flaws through simulations. Engineers are able to analyze their design elements, improve potential conflicts, and simulate scenarios such as tracking the sun throughout the year.

Essentially, 3D BIM give engineers the opportunity to “try before they buy.” They can create complex digital simulations of a project that will reveal potential risks and issues with the project before the project even begins, therefore improving the success of the project and reducing the amount of time the project will take. In terms of cost analysis, 3D BIM makes it possible for businesses to project different changes to their structures that could save them money, reducing cost while not sacrificing on quality.

By doing work on 3D BIM, engineers can provide more valuable information to construction companies. However, they need to start with the right data and technology in hand — that is where professional land surveyors come in.

Professional Land Surveying and Business Intelligence Modeling

To be accurate, 3D BIM needs to begin with a detailed representation of the surrounding area. For some projects, such as an inner city building, this may be less important. For others, such as oil and gas pipelines, this is an important factor. Structures are going to need to be developed around the surrounding environment in a way to take advantage of that environment. Consider solar panel installations: they need to be configured so they can take advantage of the sun throughout the day and year, without interrupting each other, and while taking up as little space as possible.

Professional land surveying can be done that will take a 3D scan of the surrounding area. This extremely accurate, high-resolution scan can be digitally modeled and used to build structures. From there, the structures can be created with more realistic and accurate simulations, easily making it so that construction can begin and end on schedule. Engineers will find it easier to work with accessible data, while the engineers and the construction team will be able to collaborate and communicate based on a clear 3D design.

Most importantly, the land surveying that is completed at the beginning of a project has to be as accurate as possible; inaccuracies in the early stages of surveying can cascade into serious problems later in the project. Any delays or complications during the survey process will translate into time and budget overages later on, as engineers and construction workers will have to adjust.

In general terms, BIM makes it easier for engineering and construction teams to work together, as they can view an accurate representation of what the project will be, and they can easily collaborate based on this shared data. Engineering and construction teams will be able to modify areas of the project on-the-fly to test out new recommendations and to experiment with differences in build and material. And it all begins with the process of land surveying.


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