In the bustling world of construction, any tool that adds both precision and safety is worth its weight in gold.
Propeller has been doing both for a long time with our 3D mapping software, and we’re excited to unveil an upgrade that will help you see below the surface with underground utility mapping. An interactive underground utility map is now available on both desktop and mobile platforms as an enhancement to our existing Cross Section feature.
Read on for an overview of how this new feature works, who it’s for, and why it matters.
Mapping the unseen world below
Obviously, drone surveys can’t capture subterranean features—but design files can. Propeller’s underground utilities map is a significant cross-section feature upgrade, offering an unprecedented level of situational awareness of precise utility locations. It delivers a dynamic subterranean utilities map right into the palm of your hand for on-site use, aiding in clash detection and helping prevent the nightmare of a utility strike.
In other words, this upgrade is more than a flashy new feature—it’s peace of mind.
So why dig this feature out now? Over the past few years, we’ve heard your requests for a tool that makes mapping underground utilities easy. But we didn’t just want to deliver; we wanted to do it right by bringing this advanced feature to life on mobile, where it can have the greatest impact in the field.
You might say that underground utility mapping sits at the perfect cross-section of Propeller’s strengths: survey-grade accuracy, coordinate system support, and expertise in delivering data to on-site workers through mobile.
Why underground utility mapping matters
Striking underground utilities (gas, water, electrical, or telecommunications) is one of the biggest risks in construction, particularly during the earthwork phase.
Research shows that utility strikes usually occur at the end of a long chain of missed opportunities to spot—and prevent—the problem. Breaking this chain at any point is all it takes to avoid disaster.
Thankfully, underground utility mapping is primed to provide that potentially lifesaving step, granting you the power to visualize the subsurface world accurately. From gas lines to electrical networks, having the blueprint of what lies beneath at your fingertips fosters a safer and more informed worksite.
Gather this data on desktop, or use the mobile app to deliver critical insights whenever and wherever they’re needed.
Who should dig into the underground utilities map?
If excavation or grading is on your agenda, this feature is for you. For those in the field, it acts as a reliable companion, helping gauge your position in relation to various utility designs. This feature also shines brightly in the realm of clash detection, where it aids in identifying potential points of conflict between designs.
A word of caution, though: Underground utility cross-sections are only as good as your design data. If your design data is poor, you’ll get less value from these cross-sections, so make sure you’re kicking off with high-accuracy inputs.
Down to business: How does it work?
Start by activating your design files (e.g., IFC or DXF) to represent the utilities you want to map. Next, simply point and click using the cross-section tool to explore underground utility locations and measurements. Hover over plotted points to determine their distance from the current survey surface and view element identifiers. The process works just as seamlessly on both desktop and mobile.
For the data die-hards out there, here are a few more highlights:
- Support for IFC files: View 3D representations of piping and other large utilities.
- GridPaper renderer: An improved cross-section renderer that delivers a consistent viewing experience on both mobile and desktop.
- Cross-section measurements: Enable comprehensive insights within the app.
- 3D geometry and sliced design strings integration: View IFC and DXF files in a single cross-section.
Next stop: Your underground adventure
We can’t wait to see how you leverage this new feature to enhance safety, increase efficiency, and up-level innovation on your worksites. Start exploring now on mobile or desktop, and let us know what you think.