Road Scholars

Posted: 11/18/2015

IP-S2 scanning technology, helps APAC Tennessee tackle survey demands on eight-mile road job.

On a tight-schedule highway reconstruction job for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), APAC Tennessee needed to choose between bringing survey crews in from other projects or finding an alternative method to tackle its initial survey needs. It opted to use mobile LiDAR scanning on the highly-incentivized 8.5 mile project, giving them the data needed to meet their survey demands. Doing so not only got that job done quicker and far more efficiently, it improved their competitive position for future bids and opened the door to new uses for the technology.

Incentive to change

According to Jim Smith, APAC engineering manager, the project was challenging in so many ways. "In addition to the incentives, there were also some interesting twists to the profile segment of the survey which almost dictated how we tackled the job," he said. "We knew that the logistics of getting things surveyed were going to be tough; there simply wasn't room for a delay anywhere."

Smith said he knew that dedicating the amount of manpower needed to keep the survey function on track would adversely affect other jobs within the division - not an option they liked.

"When we considered the scope of what was needed, we just felt like we had to look past conventional surveying," he said. "So we contacted Earl Dudley & Associates, the Topcon scanner specialist for this area, and had them show us just how Topcon's IP-S2 Mobile Mapping System could work for us."

Proof is in the piles

To test the feasibility of scanning in their operation, Smith and his colleague, Jerrad Burns, had Dudley's crew visit them at APAC's Memphis location to use the IP-S2 to scan some aggregate piles.

"Stockpile inventory is a labor-intensive process, which means we generally have to pull surveyors off other projects to do it," he said. "With the road job looming larger, we knew we wouldn't be able to do that. The technology immediately impressed us. One 40-minute driving session around the piles yielded more data - with higher accuracies - than what a crew of three or four working a day and a half could compile. We knew we were on the right track."

Calculating the savings

Both Smith and Burns agree that adding the IP-S2 will result in direct, bottom-line savings - though quantifying it will not be easy.

"On this job alone it would have taken two crews two weeks to do what one surveyor and I did in a week with LiDAR," said Smith. "So that's a time savings of one week, which, for us, can be seen as $500,000. That's significant, but it runs so much deeper than that. Because we had the IP-S2, we did not have to pull people off of other jobs to keep the pace up on this one, so none of those other projects suffered."

He added that being one of the first in the region to have such technology underscores the commitment APAC has to newer technology.

"We are fortunate to have management that understands what it takes to be competitive and lets us move forward with things like this," he says. "We are bidding several jobs in the next few lettings and have already established which ones are going to be IP-S2-based jobs. Knowing we have this tool available allows us to aggressively bid on jobs like this one. It's a powerful advantage to have."