How 3D Construction Site Surveys Make a PM’s Day Easier

It will come as no surprise to those working every day in the industry that construction is one of the least digitized sectors in the world, second only to agriculture.

This, and a host of other factors, has lead to a $1.6T productivity gap. New technologies like commercial drones, machine automation, and site data visualization software, have the potential to close that gap and bring the industry fully into the digital age.

But how does all this talk of “data” and “technology” actually impact you, a PM, in your day to day?

Construction worker on site with crane

There are a number of recent technological changes happening in the industry, but many are already using new tools in the field and in the office. The only question is, how?


More data than ever is being captured. How is it used?

While the capture methods for site data vary, many sites use commercial drones, traditional surveying equipment, and/or autonomous machines to do work and gather data. What we’ll be focusing on here is how that data is used to in a PM’s daily work.


How every level of a jobsite uses site data

After interviewing a number of current Propeller or Trimble Stratus users, a few key themes popped up in how they use drone surveying and visualization platforms in their work.

  • More efficient data capture
  • Smoother interdepartmental data sharing
  • Seamless team and company collaboration
  • The best ways to train others on using new software
  • Future trends in the construction industry

We also found that often the first people to use a new tool like the Propeller Platform are a part of a company’s survey team. This seemed to be because data visualization was built upon photogrammetric drone surveying, traditionally the domain of the surveyor.

construction project manager working with drone data


Project managers

For the person overseeing work in the field, up-to-date data is key to smooth, successful operations. Daily checks are their bread and butter. They’re the first line of defense against productivity loss and a few steps down the data food chain.

Volumes, road grades, cubes—these metrics are hugely important, as any project manager knows.


Daily checks made using recent data, from your device

PMs use Propeller often at Colorado-based civil contractor Fiore & Sons. Because the data is current, they can use for quick stockpile volumes. It’s as easy as drawing a boundary around the pile.

Since much of their work revolves, generally, around checks and verification a platform like Propeller puts the power to do so in their hands.

Stockpile volume measurement


Get site volumes without the middleman

Instead of calling me every time the need a volume, the PMs can log on to Propeller and get it themselves without waiting,” said Fiore & Sons Survey Manager Justin Russell. They are also starting to get access for their foreman.

For Kansas-based Bettis Asphalt & Construction, inventory managers are always in the Propeller Platform. Since Bettis has its own quarries, each individual quarry manager will check their site, especially after a new flight to see if there are any washouts or changes to haul roads.


Improving your workday through technology can start small

Companies big and small face pushback from different sources on proof-of-concept to scalability, but that’s just on the highest level. Changing your daily work for the better and improving efficiency can start small.

Civil engineer and worker discussion on road construction site

Here are a few of the ways companies of all sizes are doing it:

  • Using a PPK drone surveying solution like Propeller PPK to reduce in-field surveying time.
  • Using a service to process survey data and provide up-to-date surfaces, reducing the time spent processing in-house, sometimes by days.
  • Using machine control to turn a mediocre operator into an excellent one by giving them real-time feedback to ensure they’re on grade.
  • Using a data visualization and analytics platform like Propeller to store all your site data in one place, simplifying sharing.
  • Using Propeller to model site data in 3D, creating a virtual reality or video-game look for design surfaces, cut/fill volumes, elevations, and more. An accurate picture is worth a thousand spreadsheets.


Want to learn more about how everyone on a jobsite is using up-to-date data to make their work easier and more efficient?

Download our new ebook: From Surveyor to Home Office: How Up-to-Date Construction Data is Improving Worksite Operations.

From Surveyor to Home Office eBook


You might also like:
Why Does Proactive Data Management Hold the Key to Future-Proofing Your Construction Business?
Better Track and Share Safety Hazards with 3D Site Maps
Suez Uses Propeller to Improve Performance at Hallam Road Landfill

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