BIM Ensuring Better Connectivity and Collaboration on Heavy Civil Jobsites

At the heart of an intelligent construction site is collaboration and data sharing−where people, technology and machines all share highly accurate, data-rich information quickly and seamlessly.

This could include engineering design files, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) survey data, high-density 3-D laser scans, BIM models, planning and scheduling applications, and much more. By focusing on the integration of hardware, software and mobile technologies, contractors will continue to lay the foundation for a more intelligent construction site and in doing so drive efficiencies across their business. This, in turn, will help contractors cut costs and keep a competitive edge in the projects they bid and win.


The beauty of intelligent construction technologies and a connected jobsite is that during the planning and design phases, new survey data and attributes can be collected and accounted for continuously. This may include GNSS surveying systems, scanning and optical technology for field data collection, and software for processing captured data. This software often can be used in the office or remotely via mobile devices. At the foundation, surveyors and other field crews generally rely on precision optics and robotic total stations to read slope distances from instruments to a particular point on the job. These survey technologies combine scanning, imaging and surveying into a powerful data capture solution. From here, data points can be used to create 3-D models.

It’s important to remember that today’s best GNSS survey systems are not just about improving the productivity and accuracy of the surveyor. Most systems deliver GNSS corrections via satellite or Internet connection. However, today’s most complete GNSS solutions also improve data workflow, which contributes to a more intelligent construction site. Keep in mind that software made specifically for the field provides customized workflows and data sharing, which makes surveying tasks quicker and easier. Here are tips for better data collection, communication and collaboration.


Look for complete survey solutions that include field software that can run on mobile devices like a controller, tablet or smartphone. These systems (synced with the survey equipment) enable teams to share vital information between the field and office in near real time.  

For example, a controller or tablet used alongside compatible GNSS survey systems lets crews capture points remotely in the field. They can produce graphical staking points, lines, arcs and alignments without stepping foot in an office. Collecting survey data and having the ability to perform calculations, move files and provide updates (from the jobsite) improves communication and ensures the planning and design phases aren’t stalled by data transfers or design changes.


Laser scanning is fast becoming a necessary technology on an intelligent jobsite. While 3-D scanning is used effectively during several phases of the design-construct-maintain (DCM) process, during the planning and design phases, 3-D visualization tools let designers and clients see how the improvements can be integrated into the existing conditions.

Remember that to produce a complete 3-D representation of a site, contractors need to use multiple scans from different locations and viewpoints. These scans are combined to produce a point cloud of the entire project. With its ability to provide dense, detailed information very quickly on an intelligent jobsite, 3-D scanning facilitates open communication, shorter design cycles, better decision processes and less rework.


UASs, also called drones, are ideal for surveying and mapping because they allow for the rapid collection of high-resolution images. On a connected site, surveyors can use a drone to quickly survey an entire project site, generally about 10 times faster than traditional survey methods. UASs provide rich image data, which translates to added efficiency because designers can plan correctly the first time. This is helpful when looking at contours and grades of anything from walking paths to roads and drainage systems. Once the aerial data is collected and processed, it can be used to calculate progress on a construction site or used to update the digital design file with contours that can be loaded into a GPS machine-control system via the connected site.


These platforms facilitate tighter teamwork among planners, designers, contractors and the project owner. Look for cloud-based systems or other web-based software that allow anywhere and anytime access to these 3-D models. The result is more project control and greater information sharing with access to current models and design changes as they happen. Not only that, with a cloud or web-based model, updates to the design package, and new versions or maintenance to the system can happen centrally so all stakeholders are taken care of and on the same page.

As the adoption of intelligent construction technologies continues to grow, so does the need for more effective ways to share data and improve collaboration across the project life cycle. Heavy civil contractors that focus on best practices for integrating hardware, software and mobility applications can make an intelligent jobsite a reality, and in doing so achieve better performance, better communication and more centralized control at lower cost.

Post Author: Zahi Baroudi

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