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  • Shoring Piles In Construction: A Drone Application

    • Enaeria
    29 September2016

    shoring-piles-construction-drone-applicationInstalling a retaining wall at the outset of the construction of a new building is not a new concept. There are various factors that go into the decision as to which method would be used for a given project. Shoring methods most common today include: soldier piles & lagging, sheet piles, bored pile walls, and diaphragm walls. Regardless of the shoring method used, as technology advances, it is important to stay ahead of the curve to be able to install an effective wall accurately, safely, and with minimal costs.

    Up until recently and often today, traditional survey equipment is used to measure the as-built location of the shoring piles. The idea is to determine the elevation of the top of the pile and the distance from the as-built piles to the designed location of the exterior wall. To do this, a total station is set up onsite, and a measurement of each pile is taken. This can be a time consuming process and interrupts the work being done onsite. Depending on how the measurement is taken, there is also an added risk of having workers in close proximity to the top of a vertical drop.

    The Rise of the Drones

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) have advanced quite considerably over the last 5 years. So much so that they can be incredibly beneficial during the installation of shoring piles. Drones are capable of obtaining the same measurement results. They are flown within 15 meters of the top of the shoring piles while collecting raw data. To give an idea of the time that is needed, we have used a drone for this application and imaged over 60 shoring piles in under 20 minutes. This enables a reduction in surveying costs of over 30% in comparison to traditional methods. Furthermore, during the process there is no interruption of  the ongoing construction. This method of surveying also promotes safety since no workers are required to  work in close proximity to the edge of the wall.

    Once the raw data is collected, it is then processed to create a 3D point cloud model of the location of the piles as they were during the day of the survey. Ground Control Points (GCPs), or benchmark points, are used to tie in the model to the design and a drawing is created using CAD software.

    Drones taking the place of land surveying equipment for this application is inevitable. The time on site is minimal, reducing surveying related costs. There is minimal to no work interruption onsite and there is an added level of safety as no workers are put in vulnerable positions. It is a win-win-win approach to surveying as-built shoring piles.

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