Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Digital surveying

Nominated by Nick Edwards.

You could easily say that computers and CAD technology have moved the construction industry forward leaps and bounds.

You could easily say that computers and CAD technology have moved the construction industry forward leaps and bounds. And you could argue that the technology which means that the same lines drawn on the architect’s computer can be transferred to the engineers’ and then onto the fabricator is a revolution.

But what happens when you actually get to the point of building the thing on site? The point where hi tech virtual drawings can accurately be translated to actual lines on a dusty concrete basement slab (while it’s raining/snowing and gale force winds are blowing) is where construction’s greatest achievement lies.

Inside those red or yellow boxes found on construction sites all over the country is where calc paper measurements meet real-world coordinates.

Buildings like the Gherkin or the Beijing Olympic stadium just wouldn’t have had a chance without digital surveying techniques where distances and angles are measured electronically.

We’re talking millimetre precision which means that the glass will fit in the window frames, and the Gherkin looks like a gherkin and not a banana. These instruments use laser technology to measure distances and can now be combined with Global Positioning System to pin point exactly where in the world that road, dam, foundation, tower or shopping centre should be and make sure that a tunnel built from opposite ends meets in the middle.

And perhaps more importantly now, they are used to monitor the movement of structures during and after construction, especially when they come near historic or weak structures.

Digital surveying techiques give us the confidence to know where things are and how they effect their surroundings.

Nick Edwards is editor of Construction News.