Posted By Sir Veyor 51 on 9/3/2008 at 5:28 AM

I see that you are all very busy with P&R these days, so forgive me for trying to divert your attention….

I´ve been following your discussions about machine control and modeling with great interest.

In my little corner of the world (northern Europe), machine control has been around for some time now.

From a slow start with total station control on graders and pavers in the early to mid-90´s, through a boost in the late 90´s when GPS became more reliable, and the real explosion after 2000 when excavator control became available, machine control is now the standard with traditional stakeout as rare exceptions.

In the beginning we mostly had to create our models from nothing more than paper plans. Design data has improved since then, but not yet to a degree where you can just grab the design from the cad drawings and upload it to the machines. And I seriously doubt that it ever will, even though the current design tools would allow it. I see two main reasons for this: Design cost and liability. The owner, who normally pays for the design, just wants to keep it as cheap as possible. The designer of course wants to collect his money with the least possible effort, so he cheats. He creates a model that is "about" right, then tweaks the plans until they look good in 2D. This is much easier than creating a perfect 3D design. He then keeps the model to himself, since the party who ordered the design did not ask for it. If he still agrees to release it, he makes d@mn sure you know it can´t be trusted and that he accepts no liability.

So, who should clean up the mess? My first choice as a contractor would be my experienced construction surveyor. This is what he has been doing all the time, he just has to use the same data in a slightly different way.

He knows exactly what he is doing (if he didn´t, I´d have fired him long ago ;-)). He has complete access to all relevant information about the project, and will be well equipped to do monitoring and maintenance as needed.

My second choice would be the external specialist. He would have to be extremely qualified, since his time on the project will be limited. I am still accepting a higher risk, because he can only work with what I give him, and when I tell him to.

No surveyor without thorough construction experience, licensed or not, would ever be an option. No disrespect intended to anyone, or to any legislation that you might have. It´s just very different.

As machine control emerged, some were concerned that it would make construction surveyors redundant. At least so far, this has not happened here. Qualified surveyors are higher in demand than ever before. The profession has not disappeared, it has only changed. Of course there are a lot of new things to learn, but that has always been the case in this business.

What are your experiences and expectations? What impact has machine control made so far, and how fast is it expanding?

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