Tech Spotlight: Building with Site Scan

Kristy Eudy

What began several years ago as an innovative method for capturing aerial progress of projects by drone has evolved at KPRS into a full VDC program—complete with the use of Site Scan for ArcGIS analytics platform, a fleet of drones and a team of licensed pilots. As KPRS industrial projects have become larger and more complex, integrating drone technology for added accuracy, quality control and risk mitigation is essential to each project's success. 

The exciting part of Site Scan is that it allows the construction site to come alive digitally, creating an augmented reality that compares the real-life progress side-by-side with the intention of the design drawings. Adding this layer of oversight helps to keep projects on budget and on schedule. It reveals inconsistencies early-on that can be changed in CAD drawings instead of facing a cost increase to fix an error. It also allows for accurately measuring the quantity of dirt or other raw materials needed for the project, providing a more precise calculation.   

“The greatest benefit for our teams is the accurate measurement of grade, elevation and predicting earthwork quantities using the “cut-fill analysis” tool based on the 3D image created. Using drone technology also allows us to better understand clash-detection with existing utilities. It helps us to finalize our constructability review and further confirm dimensions,” said Rick Espinoza, Division Manager of the Deliver Group. 

Site Scan works by programming an automated flight path for the drone to follow. In the process of a few hours, it takes around 3,000 photos, and stitches them all together to create an orthomosiac 3D image of the project. This model is then overlaid with the CAD designs for the team to discover what irregularities might spring up. The flight plan is mapped out by the VDC Manager, while the drone liftoff and landing are monitored by a licensed team member on site.   

It could be perceived that capturing data in this manner might be very expensive or time consuming, however the technology helps make this effort accessible and possible. So possible that the process is now offered by the VDC team for every Industrial and Multi Family project at KPRS. 

“For multi-family projects, our use of drones helps avoid potential mistakes and saves our staff hours of time. With the capture and overlay of site photos, it also allows us to manage subcontractor work all at once, seeing how each portion interacts together rather than each trade individually,” said Eric Donnelly, Division Manager of the Live Group. 

Flying drones commercially, where permitted, is also much more within reach by obtaining FAA Part 107 drone licenses, of which KPRS has six personnel to operate the company’s three drones. KPRS has used the technology on nearly two dozen projects over the past two years. The process is now integrated into the project team, where once a project is kicked off, the VDC group meets with the team to go over the project’s goals and establish what value it will add to the project. The level of involvement on a project is a brief 2–3-month turnaround process, ensuring that foundational elements are correct from the very start.  

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