Gaining a competitive advantage with smart surveys

How SK Erdbewegung creates a transparent construction site with Propeller’s PPK solution?

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SK Erdbewegung, a family-run construction company based in Germany, has always strived to stay one step ahead of their competition by embracing digital technology. They were one of the pioneers in Germany using drone surveying and have been using smart survey technology since 2015. To manage their survey data, SK Erdbewegung chose the Propeller PPK solution because it enabled them to collect and analyze accurate data in the shortest possible time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional survey methods.

Read how SK Erdbewegung not only reduced the error rate and time required for surveys, but also gained a competitive advantage over established contractors by using the Propeller Platform to process their drone survey data.

SK Erdbewegung are experts in earthmoving and specialize in civil engineering, landfill construction, hydraulic engineering, and special civil engineering.

Marco Jöhnk has been a manager in civil engineering for more than 30 years and has extensive experience in the construction of international tournament golf courses, road construction, earthworks, landfill construction and hydraulic engineering. As site manager at SK Erdbewegung, he oversees projects from calculation to planning, implementation, and billing and evaluation.

The Challenge: A lack of transparency and capacity bottlenecks in a large, complex ship logistics project

“The Elbe river dredging project was one of our largest area projects at the time, comprising six construction sites with a total area of ​​300 hectares,” says Marco. “With the conventional surveying and communication methods, we reached our performance limit and ran into the danger of losing control over the project.” Project plans weren’t closely followed, jeopardizing the project’s success, and Marco quickly realized that he had to find a solution in order to maintain control and be able to better assess risks.

“We needed a tool that would enable us to track the progress of the work being done in the fastest way possible,” he explained. Fast action was crucial for the company to steer the project back in the right direction and to be able to issue accurate evaluations and billings to the client.”

The Solution: Adopting state-of-the-art drone surveying technology enabled rapid collection and analysis of accurate data

SK Erdbewegung came across Propeller through a recommendation from their network and was immediately curious about trying the technology in the Elbe dredging project. Only one month passed from the purchase of the Propeller PPK solution to the first flight. “The drone pilot’s license was the only thing that was a bit time-consuming at first, but that’s a one-time task. From the moment of the first flight, we began to save time,” Marco said.

SK Erdbewegung chose Propeller PPK–a complete drone survey workflow that includes aerial image capturing, data processing, and access to the Propeller Platform to analyze their data. The company previously handled the data processing themselves, which required a considerable amount of time. “With Propeller, we were able to fly over the site in a short amount of time and have the data processed within 24 hours, giving us all the information we needed,” explained Marco.

The user-friendly Propeller Platform enabled SK Erdbewegung to measure and analyze their construction project with 3D models generated from aerial images captured by the drone.

Marco shared that the company was able to regain overview and control of all areas of the Elbe deepening project thanks to Propeller. “We were able to understand exactly what was being worked on, at what time, and where the bottlenecks were. On top of that, we were able to present our clients with accurate evaluations and billings. The construction site became transparent!”

From testing new technology to gaining a competitive edge in the industry

After the successful use of Propeller PPK in the Elbe deepening project, it was clear to SK Erdbewegung that drone surveying should be a regular part of their day-to-day business operations. Since communication and transparency are rooted in the company, information sharing is crucial for them. Marco says that they initially planned to use Propeller just for surveying and documentation. However, after a short time, they realized that Propeller’s evaluation options could be combined quickly and easily with GPS data and terrain models, which enabled them to plan almost their entire workflow in advance of their construction projects. “We could immediately see how long a [earthmoving] process takes and how much material or other resources are missing. This enabled us to share reliable time estimates with our clients well in advance.”

SK Erdbewegung has succeeded in ensuring smooth processes and transparent communication both with employees and customers. “We always want to give our clients the feeling that we are building something together,” explained Marco. “We achieve this through open and honest communication, even when problems arise. We include our customers in problem-solving processes. Propeller is a tool that allows us to engage clients and create transparency, which leads to a high bond of trust.”

Moreover SK Erdbewegung uses the clear display of all essential information on the Propeller Platform as a knowledge advantage over other contractors on a project. “We always have the overview of the entire project and can provide answers to all questions,” says Marco. “We have been able to secure a competitive advantage as a result! Due to the high quality of information, SK Erdbewegung has been able to gain a very good reputation in the industry. Most of SK Erdbewegung’s clients have now become regular customers thanks to the trust they have developed and our company’s high level of professionalism.”


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