Surveying underground pipelines with the viDoc RTK rover
Terrestrial data collection with photogrammetry is a growing area of interest for many industries, whether it is to do with landscaping and real estate, or more focused on geospatial and construction surveying purposes. A wide range of rovers are available but can be expensive, cumbersome, and difficult to transport. The viDoc RTK rover provides an ideal solution to balance the need for GPS accuracy with high maneuverability.
What is the viDoc RTK rover and how can it help lay pipes in urban areas?
The viDoc RTK rover is a GNSS rover that attaches to the latest iPhones and iPads. The viDoc is then connected to the free PIX4Dcatch app to collect data points (with the possibility to include LiDAR data for relevant mobile devices) to provide datasets with high quality 3D models that are accurately geolocated. HSC Pipeline Engineering is leveraging these capabilities for its civil engineering projects in Singapore.
HSC is in the business of infrastructural pipeline construction and related engineering services for gas, water, telecommunications, and energy. With 25 years of experience in Singapore, they are seasoned professionals in understanding the best workflows and critical requirements for working in the highly urbanized island nation (surveying included), laying pipes of varying sizes underground with as little disruption as possible to daily life. With the help of official Pix4D reseller Easepect, HSC has started to deploy the viDoc RTK rover, PIX4Dcatch, and PIX4Dcloud at their sites across the country.
|User||HSC Pipeline Engineering Pte Ltd|
|Hardware||viDoc RTK rover|
iPhone 12 Pro Max
|Work scale||All of Singapore (728.6 km2)|
|Processing time||<1 to 6 hours depending on the project|
How does the viDoc make a difference?
HSC has worked on multiple projects valued at millions of dollars and spanning anywhere from two to ten years. A major player in Singapore, they are using the viDoc and Pix4D software to document pipe laying with high accuracy. Their key aims are:
- To digitally reproduce excavated trenches and present them to stakeholders who wish to do inspections, reviews, and further analysis.
- To complete surveys more quickly by taking advantage of RTK accuracy and the digital twins generated on PIX4Dcloud with coordinates and measurements.
Laying pipelines in Singapore requires a multitude of permits and necessitates road closures. This requires extensive coordination between resources, equipment, and labor to prepare a site, dig the trench, lay pipes, and re-fill the excavation as quickly as possible. Documenting this is a long term challenge for HSC due to time pressure. The viDoc RTK rover and PIX4Dcatch combination is an exciting solution. It is a powerful and lightweight workflow that any layperson can pick up and operate effectively. The portable GPS-enabled 3D scanner is a game changer for construction.
Trench excavations in Singapore
HSC has seen benefits to working with the viDoc rover for various operations, including trench excavations. 10% of the company’s excavations are done for surveying, known in the industry as trial holes. This type of excavation requires about 5 to 10 people to dig, measure, and backfill. These trial holes must be dug every 30 meters while laying underground utilities. HSC lays upwards of 3,000 meters of pipes per month, so the operational commitment of trial holes alone can reach 67,200 hours of work per year and cost $1,800,000.
The 3D models created with the viDoc RTK rover and PIX4Dcloud have a high degree of accuracy and are digital twins of reality. They can be used for maintaining records of work done by HSC as well as for measuring and analyzing the excavation. The resources can also easily be shared via PIX4Dcloud, so stakeholders across Singapore can have access to the data. This helps cut down on unnecessary site visits because the realistic digital twin is easy to navigate and observe, which enhances the value of the workflow.
Further success by HSC Pipeline Engineering
As a result of using the viDoc RTK rover and Pix4D workflow, HSC has found they can speed up surveying operations by as much as 30 to 50%, according to the project. This boosts the productivity for pipe laying overall by 5%, making a difference for HSC’s operational capabilities.
“We have imagery, digital twins, and most importantly, actionable data available in record time for our internal and external stakeholders to use through the Pix4D solution”, - Foo Zhi Rui, Operations Development Executive, HSC.
Trustworthy terrestrial surveying
HSC is not a surveying company but is an expert in construction and infrastructure. Nevertheless, the company needs surveying data. They have highlighted the ease of use of PIX4Dcatch and the viDoc RTK rover, and how its complete workflow makes this process easier.
"The combination of PIX4Dcatch, viDoc, and PIX4Dcloud has enabled us to create high quality 3D scans that are geospatially accurate and easy to share with stakeholders. Not only is the workflow intuitive and seamless, but it is also at a fraction of the cost of other multi-part solutions available on the market." - Managing Director, Mr. Shane Shi
Surveyors can confidently take measurements of pipes and their locations with minimal error. This fulfills the ambition of HSC to have accurate digital twins that are shareable (easily done via PIX4Dcloud) that they can use as a source of truth for infrastructure records. Engineers can update annotations in reference to work that is completed instead of relying on second-hand reports. It also means that regulators can conduct full inspections off-site and save an inordinate amount of time aligning their schedules with that of HSC.
Overall, this solution has proven to be a great success for HSC with measurable deliverables. As they continue to work with Easepect to keep improving accuracy and discovering new techniques to work with the viDoc RTK rover, they can be confident in the results and deliverables that they provide to their clients. The low price point of viDoc RTK compared to alternative GPS rovers is not a trade-off for lower accuracy. HSC gets the best of both and has an easier workflow that they believe surveyors worldwide will appreciate.