Increase the efficiency of fieldwork in civil engineering companies

Most civil engineering projects require some fieldwork, whether it is the construction management of a new design project or the gathering of information about the current status of a refurbishment project. From notes to photographs, most of the fieldwork is data collection and interpretation, which can be rationalized depending on what is achieved. Today I would like to share three tips on field workflows and how they can help improve efficiency in the field.

1. Record field notes — digital

When I started my career, I was taught to use a pen and paper to write field notes on the clipboard and take pictures with a digital camera. This old-fashioned approach has several advantages, including accessibility and simplicity. But I started wondering what else I could do with this technique at our fingertips.I started the experiment Generation 8 iPad And Apple Pencil, using PDF software such as PDF expert And Bluebeam Revu for the iPad mimics handwriting on a piece of paper (this is often the easiest and best solution!).

Preparing your site visit is much faster because you don’t have to print field sheets or other documents. If you can link your favorite tablet or computer to your company’s servers, all project files are readily available in digital format, with a wireless connection. Other benefits of digital note-taking include the ability to take and mark up photos to save time on sketches, the ability to quickly relay data from the field to office decision makers, and enhanced data security. Digital field memos can be backed up immediately. , Unlike paper.

An example photo of the completed dimensions of a connection marked up in the field. I was able to skip the sketch by overlaying the photo on the field note.

The use of technology in this area also opens the door to other possibilities, such as live use of spreadsheets, custom builds and standardized forms, and other software that helps speed data collection much faster. .. All require relatively little investment.

And none of the above includes a supercomputer in your pocket — your smartphone! I use it as an internet tether for my main camera, the iPad, and use an app like the one below to capture the finished state. SiteScape..

2. Return to the office and communicate

As an intermediate level engineer, I like to check in with senior engineers in the office to see what’s happening in the field to the level of detail I need and make sure I’m interpreting what I’m looking at correctly. This is especially important if the project site is not near your office and / or you have limited onsite time.

If my colleague isn’t in the field, the two tools I use are:

  • Microsoft Teams and Facetime: Video chat allows you to quickly explain what you’re seeing in the field, rather than sharing still photos back and forth. Video chat with senior engineers reviewing digital field notes for even better results and real-time access to important information.
  • 360 degree photos: These are usually as a complement to still photos of close-up details Photo Help my colleague, who may not be very familiar with the project site, better understand the situation in which detailed pictures are taken. This will help you connect the location of the problem in the plan and get a better picture.

3. Understand and respect your on-site partners

This tip has nothing to do with technology. Instead, communication and thinking are everything. As a civil engineering expert, our main responsibility is design. Our trading and contracting partners are usually the ones that bring our designs to life. Much of our success depends on them, so it makes sense to build great partnerships to make time more productive in this area. Here are some examples of topics I think of during design, in the field, or after the project is complete:

  • Is my design buildable? If so, is there an easier way to implement it? Construction is reasonably difficult — you don’t have to make it more challenging unnecessarily.
  • If the contractor provides a solution to a problem that is reasonable but does not meet all my criteria, is it still feasible to implement an alternative solution while meeting the design intent? They recommend different ways to do things for a reason and probably have some valuable insights to offer.
  • Ask our producers if they could do better, or what was challenging for them for our design after the project was over.
  • If you need to fix something, please be skillful and respectful of that information. You may be a record designer or engineer, but it doesn’t give you the right to look down on anyone.

In summary:

  • Consider switching from paper to digital field notebooks. Digital field notebooks offer almost the same functionality as paper, but with many more possibilities.
  • You don’t have to just contact the office with a photo or phone. Technology gives us more potential.
  • Respect the individuals who bring your design to life. We are all working towards the same end goal.

About the author, Nickheim, PE


Nick is a senior project engineer at. THP Limited, Owner of Greenhouse Property Management, and Coordinator of Civil Engineering Group. Nick’s interest lies at the intersection of built world and technology, and he can be found looking for an ever-changing answer to the question “How can this be better?”He can be found in LinkedInPrimarily producing content about civil engineering careers and the use of technology in small businesses.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s post by guest authors Nickheim and PE on improving efficiency and company fieldwork.If you are interested in a company that may join the civil engineering group, please contact us here Or call 800-920-4007.

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Anthony Fasano, PE
Engineering Management Research Institute
Engineer Author Your own success

Increase the efficiency of fieldwork in civil engineering companies Increase the efficiency of fieldwork in civil engineering companies

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