New Technology Opening Up Engineering Frontiers
Written by Ina Georgala
New technology such as drones is helping engineers improve monitoring of engineering projects and is assisting forensic engineers, says Kent Georgala of Omega Consulting Africa (OCA). OCA in association with DeltaScan provides a specialist drone-based scanning service in the Overberg.
In particular, drones are being used to provide data for processing and interpretation in a variety of project environments. For example, photographic data can be collected by a drone to create very accurate 3-dimensional models of projects under construction such as roads and structures. Quantities can be determined from this type of data and progress on the project monitored. This cuts out a lot of labour-intensive calculation, measuring and monitoring on-site. It also provides a more complete photographic record of projects as they progress - a very useful tool for local and provincial governments.
“There is no need to send project management teams to remote locations, as we can do construction progress monitoring, including smart program integration and critical path analysis via drone. This provides clients with the ultimate historical database where the whole construction project is digitised and accessible from a custom web portal. It also enables us to report on progress, discrepancies and deviation from program.”
Very accurate information can be extracted from drone-based data through the use of AI platforms, which is helpful in monitoring the quality of a project or the condition of a structure. For example, this type of technology is used to determine and quantify the amount of corrosion of surface reinforcement of concrete structures such as silos.
By using infrared scanning technology, leaks in flat concrete roofs and in dams can easily be identified. Lidar mapping is commonly used in situations where a high degree of accuracy is needed and is used to inspect, model and create as-built information. The interior and exterior of a structure can be scanned to create a so-called scan-to-BIM (scan to building information model). This cuts out the laborious and costly manual data capture process that is often hampered by accessibility.
“What makes our drone service different from others, is that scans can be created in record time with exceptional accuracy by combining photogrammetry, ground Lidar and aerial Lidar. Our team of draughtsmen specialise in all forms of 3D from architectural BIM models to heavy industrial applications,” Georgala says. “This is particularly important when doing precision mapping for insurance claims and risk mitigation, as we can create digital site replicas for analysis, reverse engineering on loss estimation and to extract accurate Bills of Quantities.”