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Abley Apr 20242 min read

The power of data for design, construction and asset management

Have you ever walked past a modern construction site and marvelled at the fancy-looking gadgets in use? The staples are still there; excavators, concrete mixers and power tools – but some things have definitely changed, and for the better. These days crews use tools such as 3D laser scanners and high precision GPS systems, which can connect to hundreds of overhead satellites. With all this new digital techology in play, we’re generating a wealth of data – but how are we managing it, and where does it all go?

Data is the great enabler of Digital Engineering (DE), the modern ecosystem around which the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry is formed. To truly realise the immense value that DE can bring to design, construction, and asset management; the capture of data needs to be planned, standardised and managed.

Physical works provide a unique opportunity to gather data on both new and existing assets which may not be unearthed or accessed for many decades. Spurred by the construction works at the doorstep of our Christchurch office on Victoria Street, our Digital Engineering team have been busy collaborating with construction contractors, software vendors and hardware manufacturers, in order to drive DE further.

Through experiencing and understanding the day-to-day operations and requirements of field survey crews, Abley has developed a robust data schema which has streamlined the capture and processing of information gathered in the field. By expanding the data capture capabilities of field crews, new insights are revealed and workflows are developed to leverage the rich information for each asset record.

To a surveyor, this is as simple as filling out a short form on a tablet. Populating dynamic forms which describe the condition, status, material, function and physical dimensions of an asset need not be time consuming. With built-in validation, transformation and conversion tools, the collected data can arrive in the hands of engineers and designers in minutes – not days. The average turnaround for some projects was previously weeks due to manual bottlenecks and available resources, whereas now the updated workflow has deliverables ready in less than 24 hours with proper data pickup.

National and regional authorities have begun to specify greater levels of accuracy and attribution to their data, such as Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s ‘ZHMS – 03’ specification, itself built around AS 5488. Meeting or exceeding these standards is very achievable, and with the upcoming implementation of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Asset Management Data Standard (AMDS), an opportunity exists for all surveyors, construction engineers and contractors to lead the way forward into the digital future for the AEC industry.

Road worker