Unveiling The Power Of Optical Structural Surveying In Construction

In the often challenging world of building construction in densely populated cities, ensuring the safety and integrity of the surrounding structures is of utmost importance. 

Structural health monitoring plays a vital role in assessing the condition of nearby buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure located within the construction zone. Traditionally, some forms of structural inspections involve invasive monitoring methods and equipment that could disrupt ongoing operations and lead to costly delays that could potentially put a project over budget. 

However, advancements in technology have revolutionized the construction monitoring field, giving rise to more effective, efficient and accurate techniques like optical structural surveying

In the following blog, we will explore the advantages of optical structural surveying and how this service has become a valuable resource for the construction industry.

What is Optical Structural Surveying?

Essentially, optical structural surveying is a technique used in construction monitoring to assess the structural integrity and alignment of buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure projects. It involves the use of precise optical instruments known as Manned Total Stations and Automated Motorized Total Stations to measure and monitor various parameters, such as displacement, deformation, settlement, and alignment, over time.

What Are Manned Total Stations?

Manned total stations are traditional surveying instruments that are operated by a human surveyor. They consist of a theodolite (a precise optical instrument for measuring angles) integrated with a distance measuring device. 

The surveyor positions the total station at various points around the specific structure that is to be monitored and measures angles and distances to specific target points. These measurements are then used to track any changes during the construction process. 

As their name indicates, manned total stations require manual operation and the data it collects is typically reviewed according to a defined schedule such as weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly. 

What Are Automated Motorized Total Stations (AMTS)? 

Unlike their traditional counterparts, AMTS units are advanced total stations that incorporate automated features that reduce the need for manual human intervention and operation. 

AMTS units are equipped with motors and software-controlled systems that allow for remote operation and automation of the optical structural surveying process. They can be programmed to perform measurements automatically at predetermined intervals or triggered by specific events, such as changes in environmental conditions or structural movement. 

These innovative and sophisticated total stations are especially useful for large-scale projects or long-term monitoring where continuous measurements are required without the need for constant human presence.

Two Effective Solutions For Optical Structural Surveying Needs

Both manned and automated motorized total stations play essential roles in the optical structural surveying process. 

Regardless of which option is enlisted, each enables precise measurement and monitoring of various structural parameters, allowing engineers and surveyors to detect any changes or abnormalities that may impact the integrity or safety of a neighboring structure. 

By comparing measurements taken by the total stations at different time points, deviations from the original design or any ongoing movement or deformation can be efficiently identified, allowing for more timely intervention and remedial actions to ensure structural stability.

Applications of Optical Structural Surveying

Optical structural surveying services are applicable to a wide range of scenarios during any phase of construction. Some of the most common approaches include:

Building, Tunnel, and Bridge Monitoring

Optical structural surveying services are widely used in the monitoring of buildings, bridges, subway tunnels and other critical structures during every phase of construction in major cities. 

This monitoring service allows for the detection of movement and/or settlement to help ensure the safety and integrity of these critical infrastructure assets.

Historic District and Landmark Protection  

In accordance with NYC’s Technical Policy and Procedure Notice # 10/88 (TPPN 10/88), construction teams are required to survey and monitor any landmark buildings located on a 90’ radius of a job site. 

Employing optical structural surveying service to monitor these historic structures on a preferred schedule not only allows construction teams to comply with this policy, it also alerts them to any minor or major movement that could have damaging effects on the properties. 

Should any movement occur the team can immediately intervene to protect these landmarks from significant damage. 

Advantages of Optical Structural Surveying Services 

In addition to some of the benefits discussed above, optical structural surveying services also offer an array of additional advantages for construction teams and engineers, including: 

Higher Precision and Greater Accuracy

Optical measurement systems, such as the types of total stations used in structural surveying, provide construction crews, engineers and architects with accurate measurements of any structural deformations and displacements, allowing for more precise analysis. 

Since this technology can detect even subtle changes in structural behavior, optical structural surveying helps enable early detection of potential issues that could lead to costly repairs and/or liability expenses if left unaddressed.

Long-Term Structural Health Monitoring

One of the significant advantages of optical structural surveying that use manned total stations or AMTS units is that it offers the ability to monitor structures over extended periods. 

By capturing data at regular intervals, construction professionals can track and analyze long-term structural changes. This information provides valuable insights into the performance of the structure and aids in making informed decisions regarding corrective actions and any possible maintenance, or repairs needed. 

Cost-Effective Solutions 

Optical structural surveying with manned total stations or AMTS units offers construction teams  a cost-effective alternative to many traditional structural monitoring methods. Using these effective and efficient monitoring techniques and technology reduces the risks of damage to neighboring structures and construction delays and additional labor and material costs that could potentially put the project over budget. 

Additionally, the ability to monitor structures with AMTS units reduces the need for frequent site visits, saving time and resources.

Protect Your Project with Optical Surveys for Building Monitoring 

As you can see, optical structural surveying has helped transform the way teams monitor and assess the health of structures in the construction industry. With innovative equipment and precise monitoring capabilities, these cost-effective services have become an indispensable tool for construction professionals. 

By providing detailed insights into structural behavior, detecting movements, and facilitating long-term monitoring, optical structural surveying ensures the safety, integrity, and longevity of buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure assets.

As technology continues to advance, the industry expects further enhancements in optical measurement systems in the near future that may enable even more accurate and efficient structural monitoring. 
If you require optical monitoring services for your next project, contact us today to discuss our various solutions using manned total stations and AMTS units!