raSmith's Surveying Expertise and Advanced Technology Ensure Quality and Responsiveness

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raSmith has a heritage in land surveying; an extensive library of survey records; and strong GPS, LiDAR and UAS capabilities as early adopters of advanced survey technologies. Our team provides valuable survey data on a wide range of projects nationwide.

raSmith has provided land surveying services to the design and construction industry since 1929. We have completed more than 168,000 individual surveys in the Midwest and provided advanced survey technologies on projects across the United States. Our survey team is 32 employees strong, including nine professional land surveyors. So, what is land surveying, how has it changed since the early days of construction, and how has it impacted the work we do at raSmith?

Surveying is the process of locating and mapping features on the surface of the earth. While the basic principles behind surveying have not changed, today's equipment and geospatial technology are more precise, faster, and efficient. Engineers, architects, and contractors who are working with three-dimensional design and BIM models are in need of more sophisticated, detailed, and highly accurate 3D as-built information.

Surveyors can no longer solely rely on total stations and survey-grade GPS to capture existing conditions. Newer technologies have been introduced and sometimes combined with older technologies to make reality capture better, faster, and more detailed than ever. raSmith uses 3D laser scanning to help clients best understand the as-built environment. Static LiDAR, or tripod mounted 3D laser scanning enables the capture of millions of data points in the matter of a couple of minutes. The resulting point cloud data can then be used to create existing surfaces, topographic drawings, and 3D models.

Many people aren't aware, but a lot of our static scanning services take us into industrial plants all across the country. There's usually some sort of a major expansion or a remodeling. If you can imagine a really complex plant. We come in and scan that plant, and ultimately that scan data is then used to create a really detailed, as-built model that designers and engineers can then use to very confidently design these changes.

Unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, also referred to as drones, are one of several tools in raSmith's survey toolbox. Our on-staff team of FAA certified UAS pilots use a series of aircraft to capture imagery that incorporates survey-grade ground control points and conventional survey check shot comparisons to create a variety of data sets. Specialized photogrammetric cameras and lenses, as well as aerial LiDAR sensors can now be deployed on UAS platforms to help capture topographic data and create low altitude, high resolution, orthorectified imagery. These systems can help speed up the field data collection process and can be coupled with other means of reality captured to provide the most accurate data as quickly as possible.

If we collect UAS imagery information either in the design phase prior to a construction project or during certain intervals of a construction project, all that information is at hand. Making a better design, making a better contract document and resulting in less requests for information from contractors, less errors and construction, less change orders and construction.

One of our county clients in southeastern Wisconsin has an aggregate resources pit, and often our client will ask us to come and document these pile sizes. We're able to capture the quantity of materials in each of these aggregate piles, and that's extremely important to them because they're trying to constantly monitor how much material they have on hand. Historically, that work may have involved dispatching a two or three person survey crew to literally climb and traverse the piles, collect data points manually and then come back and process that data and eventually produce a document showing the pile volumes that then is a deliverable to the client. And what UAS has done is it's allowed us to take that process from probably a four or five day process and compress it to something as little as one day.

The ability to complete hydrographic surveys is another way raSmith integrates advanced survey technologies. Sonar technology can be coupled with survey-grade GPS to capture underwater data of ponds, rivers and lake bottom topography. Autonomous or manned watercraft options can be deployed depending on the project and the existing conditions.

Technology continues to advance in all industries, and survey is certainly no exception. Tools like LiDAR hydrographic survey, and UAS platforms have enhanced our ability to capture more accurate data even faster than before. raSmith has adopted all of these technologies in our general survey tool belt, and we deploy them with a customized approach.