Kier deploys drones to capture digital data for prison project

Kier has turned to ProDroneWorx to produce accurate 2D/3D digital or reality capture outputs using drone technology for the entire length of a new prison it is constructing at Wellingborough.

This vast, 36-acre project will deliver a £253m modern prison with approximately 60,000 sq m of built accommodation, providing 1,680 category C resettlement prison places. Construction is due to complete in late 2021.

Using the latest development in RTK/PPK drone technology, ProDroneWorx is providing survey grade accurate 2D and 3D digital data outputs with global accuracies of approximately 20mm. This digital data enables Kier to digitally manage the large project while providing deeper data insights, better collaboration on the project, improving data deliverables to clients such as the Ministry of Justice, while reducing costs and risks.

Robert Stanton MCIOB, project director at Kier, said: “The data provides a level of ‘as built’ detail that we have not experienced previously, adding considerable value to our ability to accurately measure, monitor, forecast output rates together with improving our capacity to control and plan the considerable demands of site logistics and vehicle movements.”

All the digital outputs are tied to the OS grid while they can also be used to create 2D CAD or 3D Revit/scan-to-BIM models

The scale of the Wellingborough site, which has a 20-metre height variance, is very challenging. Without the digital information provided by the drone, monitoring the cut and fill would have taken Kier’s engineers a considerable amount of time.

“Using photogrammetry we have accurately monitored the cut and fill exercise with an instant snapshot of the site,” adds Stanton. “3D digital drone technology provides an economical alternative to a traditional survey, but more importantly, it’s much safer when surveying such a large, busy site – it takes our people out of harm’s way when operating in areas that have the potential for significant risk from heavy plant and machinery.”

The digital data outputs are produced within two or three days of capturing the data onsite. What used to take weeks can now be done in days. All the digital outputs are tied to the OS grid while they can also be used to create 2D CAD or 3D Revit/scan-to-BIM models.

A digital twin of the new build prison at Wellingborough project is created each month to keep pace with changes onsite and is used as follows:

Help surveyors, engineers, designers, project managers and senior management understand progress related to the design models;

  • Manage earthworks with cut and fill volumetric measurements;
  • Enable progress monitoring of the project at all stages of the build against the design models;
  • Quality assurance checks of construction materials used on site;
  • The high resolution imagery can be integrated and used in BIM;
  • Evidence regarding the amount of work carried out.

The digital outputs can be used in virtual reality (VR) or combined with BIM. 

2D/3D digital outputs can be integrated into existing workflow processes as the data can be produced in various CAD, BIM and GIS formats, for example dwg, dxf, xyz, las, laz, obj and e57.  

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