New Job Roles in Construction Caused by Data and Technology Collection

New Job Roles in Construction Caused by Data and Technology Collection

 

You might not initially think that construction and technology go hand in hand. But looking at the industry’s history and how modern construction processes and techniques differ from those of a century ago makes it easy to see the importance of technology in construction. One way to get a sense of how the construction industry has developed or evolved over time is to look at the tools people use.

As the construction industry has developed, the available positions have also changed. Many construction companies now look to hire people with technology and construction skills. In some cases, the blend of modern technology with construction has created jobs that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

Technology Is Changing the Construction Industry

Technology has shaped the construction industry since the beginning. The invention of power tools in the late 19th century meant that people could work more quickly. The development of heavy equipment also streamlined the work process and allowed projects to grow bigger while reducing the cost of the projects. Other advancements also allowed for new types of projects. Elevators, for instance, allowed buildings to reach sky-high, rather than limiting them to being just a few stories tall.

The impact of technology on the construction industry continues today. While power equipment and automated equipment accelerate projects and eliminate the need for human workers to perform repetitive tasks, the development of software tools, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are continuing to alter the construction landscape.

Changes in the way the world approaches work have accompanied technological advances in construction. Like many industries, the construction industry had to pivot and adjust once the COVID-19 pandemic began.

One notable shift was that to remote work. While many project elements still need to be completed in person, many day-to-day, back-and-forth communications between project managers and laborers don’t need to be face-to-face. Using platforms that allow for video conference calls has allowed managers to check in with their teams, assigning tasks and responsibilities for the day.

The same is true for the ordering process. In many cases, there’s no reason for a project manager to visit a brick-and-mortar store to order supplies. Digital ordering is much more streamlined and efficient. Similarly, digitized payment options allow construction companies to get paid for projects more efficiently and eliminate the need to track down checks or visit a bank.

Digitization and video conferencing are just two examples of newer technologies that are pushing the construction industry forward. Other examples include:

1. 3D Modeling

In the past, machine operators had to rely on the location of surveyor’s posts and their own skills to operate heavy equipment successfully. The precision of the stakes and operators’ skill had a significant impact on a construction’s site overall productivity. A poorly placed stake or a stake that moved due to weather could set a project back.

The use of 3D model machine control is helping bring construction sites into a new era of efficiency. Machine control relies on positioning sensors, such as sonic tracers, GPS systems and rotating lasers. The sensors give machine operators real-time feedback on the position of their buckets or blades. The sensors also provide data on target grades.

The result is heavy equipment that’s safer to use and more accurate.

2. Building Informational Modeling

Building information modeling (BIM) allows engineers, designers, architects and others involved in the construction process to collaborate on the construction of a building.

There are many moving parts in the construction process. An architect lays out the design for the building’s structure, the engineer ensures the building can support itself and the designer chooses the layout and materials used in the building. Before the development of BIM software, each party worked individually.

Without the opportunity to collaborate or connect with their colleagues, issues could arise in the process. An architect could design features that meet code, only to have the materials chosen by the designer slightly alter their measurements. In some cases, issues wouldn’t be discovered until construction began, leading to time and money lost.

BIM changes that. Using the software, everyone involved can work together from day one. The result is a dramatic reduction in project costs and an increase in time saved.

3. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) goes one step beyond 3D modeling and BIM. It allows engineers, architects, clients and others involved in the process to walk through or tour a building model before construction begins. VR can improve cost efficiency while reducing the chance that a client will be dissatisfied with the final result.

4. Off-Site Construction

Off-site construction isn’t a new concept, but it’s a process greatly aided by technological developments. With off-site construction, building components get assembled in a climate-controlled environment. The components are then sent to the construction site for assembly.

Putting components together in a controlled environment protects them from the elements and reduces delays due to inclement weather. There is also less damage or wear and tear on the components when they get assembled in a temperature-controlled environment.

5. Software Platforms and Apps

Software platforms help streamline multiple areas of the construction industry. Project managers can use apps to keep tabs on project schedules and budgets and to communicate with their team when off-site. Software apps also integrate with VR and BIM to enhance the modeling and design process.

Many of today’s construction software platforms are cloud-based and can be accessed from anywhere there’s an internet connection.

Importance of Artificial Intelligence in Construction

Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like it comes straight out of science fiction. It’s a technological advancement that exists and is used in many industries, including the construction industry. Through AI, machines can learn and imitate human cognitive functions.

The importance of AI technology in construction shouldn’t be underestimated. It can help companies complete projects on time, minimize staffing challenges, save money and address safety concerns. AI learns from the data provided to it. It can adjust project plans based on the information it receives, allowing decision-makers to alter those plans or change them to improve safety or minimize inefficiencies.

AI can help construction companies in the following ways:

  • Reduce project overruns
  • Improve safety
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve building design
  • Address labor shortages

Top Construction Technology Careers

The adoption of technological advances in construction has led to the creation of careers and positions that didn’t exist a decade ago. Developers, architectural firms and general contractors are now seeking individuals who have a knowledge of construction and how to use technology to improve processes.

The demand for tech-friendly construction workers has led to several tech-focused careers.

1. Data Analysts

Data analysts, also known as operation research analysts, use math and logic to help the companies they work with solve problems. The exact role of data analysts varies based on the company they are working with. Construction technology enables those in this role to use data analytics to:

  • Create schedules
  • Help project managers decide how to use resources
  • Supervise the supply chain
  • Evaluate site safety

The job of a data analyst often begins with a problem. The analyst might identify the problem on their own or work with other team members to determine the biggest issue facing a company. The analyst then collects data on the problem. They’ll break the issue down into various components, using database software, data mining and forecasting.

Being a data analyst requires a person to be comfortable with some trial and error. When assessing information, the analyst will examine the impact any changes or different circumstances will have on the outcome. They might adjust the number of workers during a shift or run simulations that examine the effect of different types of weather.

A data analyst can help a construction company decide the best course of action to take to achieve certain project goals. They’ll present multiple options and paths forward, providing information on the pros and cons of each option. When presenting their findings to their manager, they’ll make recommendations and provide data-based justifications for their recommendations.

2. Directors of Construction Technology

The role of a director of construction technology is relatively new. Companies with the resources to hire a director of construction technology typically do so to help manage the various technologies that have come into existence recently.

A director of construction technology is often responsible for sorting through software and hardware options and helping determine what is helpful for the company. They perform research and manage teams that beta test various platforms and devices. If a device or platform proves valuable, the director of construction technology oversees its roll-out to the whole company.

The director might sit in on meetings with other departments and pay close attention to concerns or problems that come up during those meetings. They can then recommend products or technological resources to help solve common concerns.

Often, the director of construction technology oversees the rest of the tech team at a construction company. The other team members might be responsible for training workers and showing them how to use various technological programs, such as virtual reality or BIM.

The role of director of construction technology is more common at larger contracting companies but can also be beneficial for medium-sized and small firms.

3. Project Managers

Project and construction manager roles existed before the rise in technology. But advancements have shaped how the job is performed and the skills a person needs to succeed in it.

During a construction job, the project manager needs to coordinate and supervise every aspect of the project. They might be there during the design phase and the construction phase. Project managers often have to ensure projects are up to code and meet any required design specifications. They’re also responsible for keeping projects on schedule and on budget. Often, they need to juggle managing multiple projects simultaneously.

Usually, project managers work with engineers and architects on a project. They might also have to interact with the authorities, such as a municipality’s inspection board, elected officials and lawyers.

In many cases, they hire other people to manage various project aspects. For instance, the project manager might hire an electrical manager and a structural engineer. They’ll then be responsible for overseeing the work of the other managers.

Technology, such as scheduling software, can streamline the role of a project manager. Individuals in these roles can also benefit from a knowledge of BIM and 3D modeling programs. Since project managers are responsible for keeping a project on budget, accounting programs and AI can also help them do their jobs more effectively.

4. Computational Engineers

A computational engineer is someone who can write algorithms and computer scripts that scan BIM renders and 3D models, looking for potential code violations before construction begins.

The field of computational engineering is relatively new. It merges advanced computational analysis and methods with engineering. Computational engineers have extensive backgrounds in science and engineering, as well as thorough knowledge of computer languages, math and algorithms. Those who work in the construction industry also have extensive knowledge of construction practices and requirements.

Computational engineers are dedicated to data. They know how to interpret and use this information to solve problems or keep problems from developing in the first place.

Although computational engineers have an essential role to play in the construction company of the future, it can be challenging to get them to work in the field. Many people who are drawn to careers in computational engineering want to work at established technology companies or start-ups. They might not be considering a career in the construction industry initially.

But those who do move into the construction sector are likely to see a significant demand for their skills, which can be a win-win situation for the engineers and the companies that hire them.

Contact Take-off Professionals for All of Your Construction Data and Technology Needs

Your construction company stands to benefit from data and technology. If you can’t afford to hire a director of construction technology or a computational engineer full-time, Take-off Professionals is here to help.

We work with construction companies on three different levels. We can act as your engineering staff, taking on all responsibility for data gathering. We can also fill in any gaps in your team or provide supplemental support.

Whichever service level you choose, you can rest assured that we’ll build the best data and provide the best take-offs available. For each job, we use four software programs, which allow us to put together the best package for your project. Our team takes on hundreds of projects annually, much more than even the largest contractors can handle.

If you’re ready to increase your construction technology stack but can’t hire full-time, contact us. We only need your paper plans, computer-aided design (CAD) files and a work order to start.

Get in touch for your free quote today.

How to Have a Successful Earthwork Takeoff

How to Have a Successful Earthwork Takeoff

Estimating an earthwork takeoff accurately is essential to achieve success and avoid costly consequences. When you become efficient at earthwork takeoffs, you can grow a successful business providing contractors with accurate takeoffs.

As a civil contractor, you likely use many machines, including machine control motograders, dozers, pavers, skid steers, soil compactors and asphalt compactors. You have internal surveyors or grade checkers who stake, monitor progress and validate grade on the job site, along with drones or full-scale aircraft to capture data via photogrammetry to be transformed into point clouds.

At Take-off Professionals, we know how time-consuming and complex construction takeoffs can be, and we use point cloud data for 3D earthwork modeling. This guide to having a successful earthwork takeoff will help you understand every important aspect of this process.

What Is Earthwork?

Earthwork refers to the engineering process of adding, moving or removing materials like rock and soil to change the topography of a location. Compare the current topography and the proposed design to establish a 3D earthwork calculation. Creating an accurate estimate involves calculating how much material a contractor needs to fill or cut.

  • Filling: One of the key parts of the process is filling, which is when the contractor adds material to the site.
  • Cutting: Another part of the process is cutting, which is when the contractor removes material.

Filling and cutting are both essential for developing the topography in the contractor’s design. Engineers calculate the fill and cut quantities to reach and use a mass balance for an accurate earthwork estimate. An earthwork takeoff can be manual or digital.

  • Manual earthwork takeoffs: Manual takeoffs are often laborious and complex, and even a small error can lead to significant calculation issues.
  • Digital earthwork takeoffs: A digital earthwork takeoff involves software that tends to be more accurate, easier and faster than a manual process.

A successful earthwork takeoff can lead to a more precise estimate and help the job go smoothly.

What Does Takeoff Mean in Construction?

What Does Takeoff Mean in Construction?

In the construction industry, a takeoff is the process in which a contractor determines the amount of every material needed for a project. You may also hear this referred to as a material or quantity takeoff. Contractors use takeoffs in construction to:

  • Calculate materials to buy: One of the most important uses of a takeoff is determining how much material is needed. Underbuying can lead to job site delays and more trips to purchase additional materials. Buying too many materials can cut into your profit. This calculation also influences how accurate your estimate and bid are.
  • Create an estimate: To create an accurate estimate, you need to know how much material is required. This allows you to calculate other costs for your estimate, such as labor hours, waste percentage and tax.
  • Submit a bid for a job: A takeoff is essential for knowing how much to bid for a job. If you underbid, you could lose money. If you overbid, you could lose out on a job.

A takeoff determines how much material is needed for a job, while an estimate also includes the costs of these materials and other expenses related to the project, such as tax, labor costs and travel costs. Earthwork takeoffs go by a few other names, including construction takeoffs, material takeoffs, estimating takeoffs and material estimating. Developing a precise earthwork estimate is key to a construction project. Ideally, a bid should accurately reflect material and labor costs, so you can minimize financial risks and obtain the project fee you deserve.

An estimator or group of estimators is responsible for a takeoff. A large company tends to have a team of estimators with a chief estimator who is responsible for assigning projects and handling the bid calendar. A smaller company may have a single estimator who handles takeoffs. Examples of professionals who may be in charge of earthwork takeoffs include:

  • Landscapers
  • Civil engineers
  • Marine architects
  • Subway architects
  • Energy contractors
  • General contractors
  • Tunneling architects
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Residential renovators
  • Construction managers
  • Residential home builders
  • Road and highway engineers

Outside of construction estimators, some organizations may place the responsibility for performing takeoffs on sales employees and material suppliers.

Earthwork Estimating Methods

Engineers can use a few different estimating methods to create 3D data for earthwork. You can use one of these methods to calculate the material and dirt quantities needed to provide the construction site with mass haul analysis. 

  • Block method: Also known as the division of square method, the block method is used to determine volume for a medium-sized project that requires leveling. However, there is some margin of error with the block method if a project involves both cutting and filling.
  • Average method: The average method tends to be used for smaller projects. This is the simplest estimating method used only for projects that require cutting or filling. If a project uses both filling and cutting, the average method will give you an inaccurate estimate.
  • Section method: The most precise and complex estimating method is the section method. This method is best for large projects like roads, dams and railway systems. Though this method involves more complicated calculations and steps, it gives the most precise estimate.

Choose which estimating method you use based on the size of the project and how precise you want your estimate to be.

Estimating Earthwork Takeoff Software

One of the common earthworks costs is earthwork estimating software. As an estimator, you’re in a race against the clock during an earthwork takeoff and estimate. You frequently juggle multiple projects and deal with inaccurate or incomplete design plans. Bidding too low or too high could mean losing a job or taking a loss. This is where estimating earthwork takeoff software comes in.

Estimating Earthwork Takeoff Software

Winning a job begins with a construction takeoff, which determines what material is required to perform a job. Your software can calculate your material costs by multiplying the price of the material by the number of units and adding in the cost of equipment, labor, fees, insurance, administrative personnel and subcontractors. Cloud-based software can also improve collaboration among your team.

If several people are involved in making an estimate, collaboration is an important element. Cloud-based software means your system is accessible from anywhere and you won’t have to worry about updating or maintaining the system. If you want to track historical trends and reuse information, estimating software can be beneficial. When it comes to collecting data and using it later, this software is essential.

If you have been performing manual takeoffs, deciding to invest in software can be challenging, but it’s generally the best option for your business. In particular, this software can be incredibly helpful if you take on more than a couple of commercial projects per year. Features of earthworks software may include:

  • Grid views
  • Pad takeoff
  • Material library
  • Trench profiling
  • Retaining wall takeoff
  • Strata layer breakdowns
  • Multi-color, 3D elevation maps
  • Cut and fill estimating program

At Take-off Professionals, we can apply our data services to several software programs for civil engineering in the construction industry.

  • Primavera: Project managers use Primavera to ensure compliance and keep projects on track. Primavera can have a bit of a learning curve, so you may want to attend a training course before you start using the software. With this program, you can avoid overrunning deadlines and increase the efficiency of your planning. Features of Primavera include real-time reporting, multiuser system, multi-device capabilities, risk management capabilities and standardization. If you want to improve productivity on a construction site, Primavera can be a worthwhile investment.
  • AutoCAD: In the construction industry, AutoCAD is among the most commonly used programs. This computer-aided design (CAD) program lets you create and edit drawings. Some features included in AutoCAD are smart dimensioning, cloud integration, photorealistic rendering, 3D modeling and visualization, and import and export of PDF and DGN. These features make the software accessible, versatile and user-friendly. 
  • Civil 3D: Similar to AutoCAD, Civil 3D is more advanced software that lets you dive deeper into a project via multiple profiles, alignments and surfaces.
  • Bluebeam: This PDF editor can be used for various workflows, including submittal, document planning and quality control. If a CAD program is too complex for a task, Bluebeam may be a good option. Features of this program include standardization, collaboration, multi-device capabilities and CAD plugin.
  • Microsoft Excel: Likely the most commonly used civil engineering program, Microsoft Excel allows engineers to perform various functions, from simple calculations to project tracking. Excel includes several helpful features, such as templates, visualization, storage, flexibility and calculation. If you need to improve your knowledge of Excel to leverage the program successfully, you can quickly find an online training workshop or affordable course.
  • Microsoft Access: Alternatively, you may want to work in Microsoft Access if you create extensive spreadsheets. Access is found in the Microsoft 365 Suite and used to build databases, store data, add forms to databases, facilitate collaboration and export data.

If you want to implement estimating software, select an option that integrates with your construction management program. When you choose to work with us at Take-off Professionals, all we need is your paper plans, CAD files and a completed work order. 

Become Familiar With Estimating Tools

Become Familiar With Estimating Tools

To successfully use estimating tools for an earthwork or material takeoff, you must become familiar with them. As an estimator, you should also understand the construction process and the use of the estimate. Becoming familiar with these aspects can help you leverage your tools more effectively for an excavation takeoff. 

Owners either request a preliminary bid or full life cycle analysis. You may be working with only a description of the project at the beginning rather than drawings. This means you’ll need to price the whole scope of the project, not just what is shown. Default unit pricing doesn’t always account for every factor that may impact the price of labor and materials, such as supply chain issues, availability of certain trades and construction volume. Be sure to include these factors in an estimate.

Start with a properly set scale for a successful takeoff. In some cases, a provided scale is inaccurate or not included in the blueprints. Beginning with setting or checking the scale will ensure your measurements are accurate. Being accurate, thorough and quick are all key to a successful takeoff. At Take-off Professionals, we use your designs to create precise earthwork estimates.

Common Takeoff Pitfalls

For a construction project, a takeoff is necessary. While residential contractors may be able to estimate the materials needed for a project simply by eyeballing the house, this skill doesn’t translate to most commercial projects. Generating an accurate estimate is essential for a successful project. However, some pitfalls could impact an estimate and takeoff. Inaccurate measurements and missed deadlines are two of the most common takeoff pitfalls.

  • Inaccurate measurements: Whether due to a complex digital process or a manual takeoff, inaccurate measurements can occur and impact a takeoff. When you move data between tools, you risk making mistakes. You may be transferring data from paper to Excel or from your takeoff program to an estimating software. During manual data entry, a single typo or distraction can throw your entire estimate off.
  • Missed deadlines: Missing bid deadlines is a common takeoff pitfall that can occur when the takeoff doesn’t leave extra room for creating a detailed estimate. This happens most often with manual takeoffs. Even if you work around the clock, attempting to complete an estimate during a time crunch may lead to missed deadlines and wasted hours. 

As an estimator, you must know exactly the amount of materials on a structure and bid on several jobs simultaneously. Though you can use a ballpark estimate to get enough materials that you can reuse later, paying for them upfront may negatively impact your cash flow. Too high of an estimate could mean you miss out on a job. Some contractors will want to see a completed takeoff or will do their own takeoff to check your work. Fortunately, you can avoid the common takeoff pitfalls above by implementing earthwork takeoff software.

Contact Us at Take-off Professionals

Contact Us at Take-off Professionals

At Take-off Professionals, we create 3D data for layout and machine control, including machines, grading surfaces, curb machines, pavers and 3D utility layout and utility trenches for rovers. We provide earthwork takeoffs with material and dirt quantities and mass haul analysis for roads and sites, so you can return to managing your business and building projects. Additionally, we can develop haul roads for the project’s life cycle, including:

  • Custom home lots
  • Subdivisions
  • Schools commercial sites
  • Streets 
  • Highways

Since 1988, we have been helping busy contractors who need support with takeoffs. We design our takeoff services to meet your specific needs. We can ensure you have the necessary information based on the best possible earthwork takeoffs, which can help you improve your productivity. With better work efficiency and bidding accuracy, you can save money and enjoy greater profits. When you’re ready for a successful earthwork takeoff, contact us at Take-off Professionals to learn more.

How Land Surveyors and Engineers Work Together

How Land Surveyors and Engineers Work Together

For those outside the construction industry, it may be difficult to tell the difference between an engineer and a surveyor. Land surveyors and engineers work together on most construction projects and share some of the same responsibilities. That said, surveying and engineering are two separate professions requiring different skills and knowledge. Both disciplines are important in ensuring a project goes well, which is why you’ll commonly find them working on the same projects.

In this post, we’ll go into detail about the relationship between land surveyors and engineers and how that relationship plays out during a construction project. We’ll also discuss the different tools and methods engineers and surveyors use and how that impacts your project.

The Relationship Between Engineers and Surveyors

The duties of a civil engineer and a land surveyor are intertwined. They often work together on construction and civil engineering projects. While sometimes an engineer may take on the responsibilities of a surveyor or vice versa, both roles are critical to a construction project’s success.

Beyond the design phase, surveyors and engineers serve as checks and balances for a work site. Both supervise the construction process to ensure the structure is being built according to the original plans. Surveyors conduct as-built surveys, which they use to confirm the engineer’s plans. Engineers then use this information to create any modifications or corrections.

The point of their work is to ensure the crew builds to specifications and that the structure and worksite will be safe. If you were to lose either from your team, construction would have to stop until you found a replacement.

Surveyors and engineers usually work in teams, especially on large projects. In general, more complex projects require larger teams of surveyors and engineers. You also might use multiple teams as the project progresses — for example, you may have a team of surveyors at the beginning of a project and switch to another team if necessary.

The Role of the Land Surveyor

Land surveyors collect data on important geological features like the angles and distances between points above, below and on the surface of the land. They use this data to determine where a structure should sit and establish property boundaries. The types of surveys a surveyor might perform include:

  • Property survey: A property survey confirms or establishes the legal boundaries between two pieces of property. This information is especially helpful in case a legal dispute arises between private and public parties.
  • Geological survey: Geological surveys map out the physical landscape surrounding a site or structure, including features like rivers, mountains, valleys and more. Satellite data and aerial photography play a large role in geological surveying.
  • Construction survey: A construction survey creates the layout for an engineering or construction project by establishing reference points, dimensions, elevation and positioning for a structure or proposed improvement.
  • Deformation survey: Conducting a deformation survey helps surveyors determine whether a geographical or human-made feature changes shape over time. This information is useful for evaluating the chance that structures or improvements will be safe from the deformation of their surroundings.
  • Right-of-way survey: This survey establishes access points and access rights to a particular property.
  • Topographic survey: A topographic survey is one of the most important surveys a survey team conducts. It provides engineers with the locations of elevation variations, geographical features and artificial structures like underground utilities, telephone lines or nearby buildings. This data also allows engineers to calculate the earthwork a site will need to reach the final grade.

Land surveyors also play a role in minimizing the impact a project will have on the environment. When they take their measurements of the land, the survey team makes sure that the land will not be adversely affected, the structure will be safe and the project will be as efficient as possible overall.

Accurate survey data is also beneficial to the planning phase of construction projects. Here are some of the ways surveyors can aid engineers in the earliest planning stages:

  • Mitigate the risk of future regulatory enforcement actions
  • Maximize project startup through comprehensive planning
  • Minimize delays in project schedules
  • Help determine project scope and aid in pre-construction planning
  • Establish standards for later survey teams to follow

Throughout the construction process, surveyors supervise activity to ensure the crew is following the engineer’s plans. Usually, these surveys require whole teams of surveyors to complete — more measurements must be taken on active construction sites than on empty land. If the project appears to be even a millimeter off, the surveyors steer the construction crew in the right direction before a problem can arise.

Once construction wraps, land surveyors conduct as-built surveys, which record the final location of a construction project and any deviations from the original designs that may have occurred.

How Surveyors Collect Data

Surveyors use a combination of digital and conventional tools to create the most accurate image of a site they can. Some examples of surveying equipment include:

  • Levels: Surveyors use levels to measure the difference in elevation between two points. Usually, they use these with level rods or tripods to get a precise reading.
  • Prisms: Prisms allow surveyors to lock in control points at a height suitable for pinpoint accuracy. Surveyors can mount prisms on surveying poles and use them with electronic distance measuring (EDM) equipment for maximum accuracy.
  • Theodolites: This essential surveying tool measures the vertical and horizontal angles between points. More advanced theodolites, also known as total stations, can also measure distances, complete calculations and record and store data for later use.
  • Electronic distance measurement: EDM uses electromagnetic waves to measure the distance between two points. Surveyors typically use theodolites to gather this information.
  • Drones: Surveyors can easily conduct aerial and high-risk surveys using drone cameras without putting themselves and others in danger. They can fly a drone into areas that are difficult for humans to access, like high bridges, canals and other civil infrastructure. The images produced through this process allow engineers to extract topographical data for their plans.
  • LiDAR: Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems use pulses of light to create a point cloud, which serves as the basis for a detailed 3D model of a space. Surveyors can stitch together multiple LiDAR scans to create an accurate image of especially complex or large sites.

The Role of the Engineer

Once the land surveyors have completed data collection, civil and construction engineers use this information to create the blueprints for the project. If the structure requires a foundation, a geotechnical engineer is typically the one responsible for ensuring the foundation will interact well with the geographical features around it.

The surveyors often provide their input during the design phase as well. This feedback increases the chances that the plans will succeed.

Beyond the design phase, construction engineers are typically responsible for overseeing the design and safety of temporary structures used during the construction phase. They may also be responsible for the following:

  • Preparing project budgets and communications
  • Planning distribution of water supply and electricity
  • Ensuring construction sites are safe and clean
  • Providing technical advice and feedback to construction crews
  • Selecting and procuring the appropriate materials for a project

Why Good Data Is Important for Civil Engineers

After surveyors have collected the necessary data for a project to begin, the raw data needs to undergo a series of processes in order for engineers to make use of it. Raw data can be messy and inaccurate, so it’s important to perform data preparation before attempting to use the information.

Data preparation is the process of cleaning and transforming raw data into a usable format. This process involves several important tasks:

  • Eliminating extraneous or duplicate data and any existing outliers
  • Filling in any missing values
  • Making corrections to data
  • Ensuring data fits standardized patterns
  • Reformatting data to facilitate analysis
  • Joining together data from multiple sources
  • Consolidating or separating fields

The benefits of data preparation for construction projects include:

  • Reliable results: With accurate, readable data, engineers are better able to draw plans that accurately reflect reality.
  • Potential savings: When engineers have accurate information about a site, they can more easily identify areas where they can safely cut costs.
  • Informed decisions: Accurate data equips engineers and project managers with the knowledge they need to make important planning and procurement decisions.
  • Increased safety: More accurate site data means engineers will have a better idea of the potential risks involved with a project, which can help improve worksite safety and speed the construction process.

Because data preparation can be a time-consuming process, it can be beneficial to go through a third party. You’ll be able to focus all your time and energy on collecting geographical data and translating it into building plans while your data prep partner takes care of the rest. Plus, having more eyes on the data can help find discrepancies and errors you may have missed the first time around.

Types of Engineers

Engineers who work on a construction or civil engineering project may specialize in a range of disciplines, including:

  • Architectural engineering: Architectural engineers design buildings. While they have a similar job to architects, architectural engineers focus on the functional aspect of a structure rather than its aesthetic appeal.
  • Construction engineering: Construction engineers are a subtype of civil engineers responsible for overseeing the design and implementation of large-scale building projects. Often, they are also responsible for developing project budgets and overseeing how the project works.
  • Civil engineering: Civil engineers are responsible for overseeing the complete construction and safety of a construction project. Their primary focus is on ensuring the functionality and structural soundness of buildings and infrastructure.
  • Geotechnical engineering: Geotechnical engineering involves gathering data on the behaviors of soil and rock. It also involves assessing factors like slope stability and the potential risk of landslides, avalanches or falling rocks. This information helps determine the makeup and design of a building’s foundation and how it contributes to structural stability.
  • Structural engineering: Structural engineers are responsible for designing and assessing large-scale projects like bridges, buildings and dams to ensure strength and stability.
  • Transportation engineering: As the name implies, transportation engineers focus on planning and maintaining transportation systems, like city streets and expressways. Surveying is crucial to transportation engineering because the condition of a road is often dependent on how well it interacts with the geological features surrounding it.

Unless the engineer has the skills and tools to conduct land surveys themselves, working with a surveyor is a must for any engineering or construction project.

What Tools Do Engineers Use?

In addition to the traditional paper and drafting pencil, engineers use a variety of computer programs to draw project plans, manage workflows and communicate with other parties working on the project. Typical examples include:

  • Computer-aided design (CAD) software: Programs like AutoCAD, DraftSight and Solidworks allow engineers to create detailed, readable 3D plans for construction projects.
  • Project management software: Tracking programs like Excel and Primavera are useful tools for tracking project workflows and progress. This kind of software also comes in handy when tracking and calculating material quantities or other data.
  • PDF editors: Programs like Adobe Acrobat and Bluebeam Revu are excellent for marking up and editing designs before sending them in for review. Some have collaborative features that allow whole teams to view and edit a document simultaneously, enabling users to catch errors they may have missed in earlier stages.

The specific tools an engineer may need depends on several factors, including the types of projects they work on, their specialization and where they are in their career. For example, a new engineer is more likely to use technical software most of the time, while someone who has been in the industry for a while might use something oriented toward project management.

Contact Take-Off Professionals for Data Preparation Today

The construction industry relies on good data to create safe, lasting structures — that’s what makes land surveyors and engineers so critical to the success of any building project. Both professionals gather and use data to plan projects and ensure they stay on track.

If you need to package data for your crew, TOPS can help. With more than 20 years of experience and a laser focus on data preparation, you can rely on us to create excellent deliverables for projects of all shapes and sizes. Our team consists entirely of engineers who work full-time to ensure you get the data you need when you need it, even when deadlines get tight.

All we need from you are your CAD files, paper plans and a completed work order. With this information, our team of engineers can create accurate, high-quality reports for your projects, including:

  • Grading surfaces
  • 3D utility layout
  • Dirt and material quantities
  • Cut and fill maps
  • Mass haul analysis

Let us take some of the work off your shoulders. Reach out to request a free quote today — we’ll get back to you shortly with a detailed report and accurate turnaround times, giving you the confidence you need to win your bid and complete your project in time. We also offer free trials if you want a more detailed look at what we can do for you.

Civil Engineering Software Programs You Should Know

Civil Engineering Software Programs You Should Know

As a civil engineer, you rely on various engineering computer programs to get the job done. The kinds of programs you’ll need depend on the kinds of projects you work on, as well as your specialization and where you are in your career. For example, new civil engineers might use mostly technical software, but more experienced engineers might use programs oriented towards project management.

We created this list to highlight some of the most useful civil engineering software in the construction industry and beyond. So if you’re a seasoned engineer or studying to become one, these programs should be on your radar.

AutoCAD Features and Benefits

AutoCAD is one of the most widely used civil design software programs in the industry — and for a good reason. It’s a computer-aided design (CAD) software program that allows you to easily create and edit precise drawings.

Some advantageous features of AutoCAD include:

  • Photorealistic rendering
  • PDF and DGN import, export and underlay
  • Cloud integration
  • Smart dimensioning
  • 3D modeling and visualization

These features make AutoCAD civil drafting an excellent choice for any engineer. You can easily attain the following benefits:

  • Versatility: Professionals across various industries use AutoCAD for project design, resulting in smooth collaboration between fields.
  • User-friendliness: The user interface is intuitive and straightforward, so anyone who has a foundational understanding of drafting can use the program.
  • Accessibility: AutoCAD is generally affordable. You can choose from a monthly, annual or three-year subscription, and they even offer a free yearly license to students and educators. Plus, training courses are widely available online.

Autodesk, the company that makes AutoCAD, also offers a more advanced civil engineering 3D software simply named Civil 3D. While AutoCAD is excellent for drafting, Civil 3D allows you to dive deeper into your project with various surfaces, alignments and profiles.

Microsoft Excel in Construction

Microsoft Excel is probably the most widely used program in civil engineering. Engineers perform many functions in Excel, from project tracking to simple calculations. Some other key features of Excel include:

  • Visualization: Using Excel, you can easily create charts, tables and graphs to visually display your data. This feature can be especially helpful for sharing data with stakeholders, architects and others involved in your project.
  • Calculation: Excel is good for repetitive calculations requiring only a few operations.
  • Flexibility: You can use Excel for various civil engineering applications, making it an incredibly versatile and cost-effective program.
  • Storage: You can store many different sets of data in separate spreadsheets. To better organize information, store different categories of data on new pages.
  • Templates: Excel templates make it easy to plug in relevant information without extensive formatting. This capability makes Excel an affordable application for project management as well as data entry.

Because it’s so ubiquitous, working knowledge of Excel is essential for success as a civil engineer. Fortunately, you can easily find affordable courses and training workshops online if you need to brush up on your skills.

If you tend to create extensive spreadsheets, Microsoft Access can be a helpful alternative for Excel. Access is a database-building program included in the Microsoft 365 Suite for Windows. In addition to data storage, Access allows you to add forms to databases and export data to other Office applications, allowing seamless sharing and collaboration.

Primavera for Construction Management

While Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management software is most useful for project managers, any engineering professional can use it. It’s a single-platform project management tool for keeping projects on track and ensuring compliance.

Primavera P6 is a little more complicated than the other programs on this list, so it can help to take a training course or two before jumping in. However, its complexity allows it to handle projects of any size across many industries.

Effective program use can increase your planning efficiency and prevent you from overrunning deadlines. Some helpful features include:

  • Standardization: This feature allows you to standardize business processes and best practices across all your active projects.
  • Multiuser system: Different teams across the organization can work simultaneously on the same project, and all their work is visible to the project manager.
  • Risk management capabilities: Proactively identify and resolve risks through the platform.
  • Real-time reporting: Get an accurate view of your project progress and assets as your team works.
  • Multi-device capabilities: You can bring Primavera onto your site using your tablet or smartphone.

While Primavera is one of the more costly options on this list, it’s a worthwhile investment for improving productivity on construction sites.

Bluebeam for Civil Job Sites

Bluebeam for Civil Job Sites

Bluebeam Revu, more commonly known as Bluebeam, is a PDF editor similar to Adobe Acrobat. You can use it for many different workflows, including quality control, document planning and submittal.

Bluebeam is handy when a CAD program might be too much of a hassle for one task. If you only need to view a design, or you need to make a few minor edits before submitting it for review, Bluebeam is going to be the program for you.

Here are some key features:

  • Collaboration: Bluebeam’s Studio Sessions feature allows teams to view and edit a document at the same time, which can help you catch anything you may have missed in earlier stages.
  • Standardization: Bluebeam allows you to set up custom user profiles for different workflows, which is an excellent tool for setting markup standards. That way, you can streamline communication and accountability within your project teams.
  • CAD plugin: This feature allows you to easily export both 2D and 3D PDFs to send to stakeholders, which helps provide an accurate view of your project to the people you need to impress.
  • Multi-device capabilities: All you need to access your Bluebeam files in the field is your laptop or tablet, making your plans portable and easily accessible.

Contact Take-Off Professionals Today

Contact Take-Off Professionals Today

Our extensive experience allows us to take on projects of all sizes, from parking lots to highways. In fact, we prepare more data in one week than some of the largest contractors will build in a year. Our engineers work across three different time zones to meet our clients’ needs. All we need from you is three essential pieces of information:

  1. Your CAD files
  2. Your paper plans
  3. A completed work order

We’ll take those documents and use them to build your data exactly how you envision it. When you receive your data, it’ll be ready for use right away.

Let us take some of the work off your hands. Contact us today for more information about how our data prep services can make your workplace more efficient. We can provide you with a detailed quote, including accurate turnaround times, so you’ll know exactly what to expect from us. We also offer free trials if you want to see what we can do for you.

Topographic Surveys Explained

Topographic Surveys Explained

Topographic surveys allow you to map the terrain of a given landscape that you’ll be working on. These surveys incorporate everything from trees to existing buildings and utility poles. They can also map the various elevations on your job site. You can use topographic surveys to gain a better understanding of the landscape of your next project.

What Is a Topographic Map?

Topographic maps are visual models of all of the data collected during a survey. Your map will show all the elevations, natural and human-made constructions on your job site. Contour lines will denote the various elevation levels on your property, and there will be markers for everything else.

How Do You Use Topographic Surveys?

Topographic surveys help you determine the geography of the terrain. When you build new structures, you need to have an understanding of your landscape. You can use a topographic survey to determine the best locations for your new buildings or utilities. It will also tell if you need to perform any additional work like leveling.

Topographic surveys can also help you determine whether any areas on your property are off-limits due to elevational or other challenges. You can use a topographic survey to gather ideas about how the landscape will look once the construction is complete. Topographic surveys allow you to follow the necessary steps to reach the desired outcome.

What Instruments Are Used to Take Topographic Surveys?

Modern technology offers a few simple ways to create a topographic map, including:

  • Global positioning systems (GPS).
  • Electronic distance metering (EDM).

Trained professionals use these devices to take measurements and compare them to existing maps. The surveyor can then develop a topographic map demonstrating every detail about the terrain.

What Industries Use Topographic Maps?

Topographic maps are useful in several different industries. Some of the most common jobs that require topographical surveys include:

  • Engineering.
  • Architecture and construction.
  • Government agencies.
  • Forestry.

Topographical surveys and maps are often used as the basis for a 3D blueprint for individuals in these sectors. A visual representation of the land features allows the workers to get a distinct sense of what they’re working with and how it might turn out.

Contact Take-off Professionals About Our 3D Model Services Today

At Take-off Professionals, we take the data collected from surveys and develop 3D topographical maps. Our team of full-time professionals is ready to help you visualize the data for your next project. Our primary focus is on optimizing data so you can use it effectively.

You can use our platform to access your data and upload additional files and notes. We’ve been working in this industry for over 20 years, making us experts in our field. Our teams work on around 1000 3D models each year.

We can offer you a detailed quote and fast turnaround times. We’re available on a national scale with technicians stationed in offices in three time zones.

For more information about our services, get in touch with us online or call 623-323-8441.

Construction Surveying

Construction Surveying

Construction surveying is an integral part of the build process. Ensure that you’re completing the steps correctly to make your property safe and functional.

What Is Construction Surveying?

Construction surveying is staking out or determining reference points for the construction process. Construction surveying is about seeing what is already on the location. These items could be anything from patches of trees to existing buildings.

Construction surveying is also used to determine where the location of any new buildings should go. Keeping all of this information organized is vital to the construction process.

Why Is Construction Surveying Necessary?

When you start on new construction, you want to ensure that your plans will come out the way you intended. You need to know how to execute them to match your vision, keep your workers safe and follow any laws and guidelines. Construction surveys help you determine the safety of the land where you want to place a building, roadway or bridge.

Construction surveying allows you to better understand the area you have to work with. Ensuring the location is viable for the new build is vital to keeping workers, partners and clients safe during future use.

What Should Be Included in a Construction Survey?

You should include several elements in the construction survey process, including:

  • A basic border survey that marks where your property ends and another begins.
  • Some information on easements, other building locations, underground structures or utilities.
  • An outline of the elevations and contours of the land.
  • A plan of where new facilities and roads will go.
  • A reexamination of the finished project to see how closely it aligns with the measurements.

What Equipment Do Construction Surveyors Use?

Gathering all the information listed above requires specialized equipment. Some of the machines and tools construction surveyors use include:

  • Levels and theodolites: Surveyors use these instruments to measure angles, horizontal and vertical slopes.
  • Electronic distance measurement: Surveyors may also choose to use these computerized tools to take measurements.
  • Global positioning systems (GPS): Surveyors use GPS devices to measure and collect information about the land.
  • Geographic information systems (GIS): Surveyors can use these devices to create visual maps that represent all of the data they collect.

Contact Take-off Professionals About Construction Surveying Today

At Take-off Professionals, we understand the importance of accurate construction surveying on your next project. We are a team of full-time professionals who build 3D models for your construction jobs. Our only focus is to take your data and create something visual from it.

We have a platform that you can use to access your data and add other files and notes. Take-off Professionals has been in business for over 20 years, and we work on a national scale. We work on around 1000 3D models for machine controls every year. Our team provides detailed quotes and fast turnaround times, so you know exactly what you’re getting when you partner with us.

Contact us online today or call us at 623-323-8441 for more information about our services.

How to Determine Volume From Contour Lines

How to Determine Volume From Contour Lines

Finding volume with contour lines is essential to your business operations. Increase precision by calculating volume from topographical 3D models.

What Are Contour Lines?

You can find contour lines on topographical maps. These lines define the elevation levels of a particular terrain. Contour lines with a wider distance between them indicate a more gradual slope. If they’re close together, that means that the elevation is steeper.

Contour lines represent an area where all locations on that line are at the same height. We use these lines to determine the elevation and topography of a landscape. In the case of construction work, surveying the land can help you decide where to locate new structures and where you may need leveling work.

What Are the Formulas?

You can determine volume using contour lines in two ways:

  • Prismodial method: This method offers a precise way to get an estimate of the volume. The formula is generally known as Volume = L(A + the square root of (A*B) + B) divided by 3.
  • Trapezoidal method: This method is also used in calculating volume with contour lines. The formula is Volume = L x 1/2 (A1 + A2) cubic meter.

Why Is Volume Calculation Important for Earthwork?

Measuring the volume of the land at your next project is vital for several reasons. First, if you want to create an accurate bid for the work, you need to know what type of landscape you’re working with. Using contour lines and topographical maps to determine volume will give you an idea of the work you’ll need to do. Then you can more accurately account for labor and material costs.

On that same note, calculating volume also allows you to use your materials effectively. When you know the volume of the area, you can take the guesswork out of how much material you need for a particular project.

Contact Take-off Professionals for More Information Today

At Take-off Professionals, we use your data to create 3D topographical models. We optimize what you gather from a quantity survey to make models with contour lines to determine volume. Ensure material and budget use and accuracy with our help.

Our team is composed of full-time professionals who work on these projects as their specialty. We focus on creating dependable 3D models to use for determining the volume of the terrain for your earthwork.

You can access our online platform to view your data and models. You can even add other files or notes to keep all related materials in one place. Take-off Professionals has over 20 years of experience and works on around 1000 3D models yearly.

We offer detailed quotes that describe the exact services you’ll be getting. Our turnaround times are quick too, ensuring that you can get your work done on time. We have trained professionals on a national scale, meaning that we can help you no matter where you live. For more information about our 3D modeling services, please get in touch with us online or call 623-323-8441.

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