2019 - Review of the Year
With hundreds of projects successfully delivered it’s been another busy year for Plowman Craven - here’s just a few highlights from an eventful 12 months...
Going round in circles...
At the beginning of 2019 we were finally able to talk about our work at one of the most striking new buildings in years… the Bloomberg HQ in London. A winner of multiple awards, including the RIBA Stirling Prize, this architectural marvel was an amazing project to be involved with, and one that challenged our teams considerably given its unique geometry and sweeping curves.
Working with principal contractor, Stanhope, Plowman Craven provided a range of surveying and monitoring services throughout the construction and fit-out stages of this extraordinary development, delivering area measurement reports and lease plans of both the North and South buildings, as well as real-time data on any structural impact of the construction. Unusual shapes are becoming increasingly common… and often require bespoke measurement solutions in order to avoid costly mistakes.
The Bloomberg building was just one of many exciting projects we were involved with in 2019, ranging from the Oval and Harrods to the V&A Museum and Broadgate… and not forgetting the Parliamentary Estate (see November for more).
An eye on monitoring...
2019 has been another busy year for our PC Monitoring division, with specialist structural and environmental monitoring services being supplemented with a range of construction surveying services (including things like primary survey control, secondary control gridlines and datums, as-built verifications and setting out, verticality surveys and window alignment surveys.)
Working across a range of sectors, the team once again showed its versatility in providing high-accuracy monitoring for some fascinating projects, including disused gasholders, London Underground tunnels and a Grade II-listed Thames river wall where we were commissioned to install a comprehensive (and self-sufficient) structural monitoring system that would enable the Project Team to understand the behaviour of the river wall prior to it being repaired.
One of our largest projects in 2019 was Olympia London, where a £1bn investment looks set to transform this iconic exhibition venue. We surveyed the entire site, from above and below ground, before delivering an information-rich 3D BIM model of the entire 14-acre site that helped to inform design and will enable future management of the venue.
Sensor Fusion was the buzzword for this project - in addition to the drone surveys used to capture roof and elevation detail, we also utilised a range of other surveying techniques including terrestrial laser scanning, total station observations, underground utilities mapping and even 360° Panoramic Photography that enables site visualisations from any location.
All internal detail was captured – including the very intricate ironwork - to a high LOD whether it was to be modelled that way or not... ensuring we had a comprehensive database of information to draw on in future without having to go back to site.
A Broad Portfolio...
Our Property Management team (better known to many as Area Referencing) worked at some really interesting locations during 2019 - including a number of airports across the UK – where we provided high-accuracy area measurement reports. By the end of 2019 the team will have completed more than 700 projects, working across a mixture of offices, retail and warehouse properties.
Having opened an office in Birmingham, we continued to expand our operations away from the South East, delivering on some major projects in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and other large regional cities.
On the ground, we have continued to innovate to ensure we maximise the value of every survey, applying new data collection technology and improving workflows to provide enhanced deliverables. Where we have applied the new technology, it is giving us the ability to extract general arrangement or lease plans, investigate specific features or configurations and understand the building in greater detail.
Off the Rails...
Having already proved the market-leading, Band 1 (sub-5mm) capability of our Vogel R3D drone survey solution, we were delighted to be awarded a coveted place on Network Rail’s drone services framework. As one of just four companies to be awarded the contract, which covers the inspection and surveying of railway infrastructure, we worked on dozens of amazing rail projects in 2019, including the Aberdeen to Inverness renewal – particularly around the iconic Don Viaduct - as well as Battersea Pier and more.
This year we also began to deliver a new Band 3 (25mm accuracy) service from our Vogel system, delivering high-intensity images, point cloud and orthophoto from which measurement data can be extracted. It has already been successfully used by Siemens as part of Network Rail’s Victoria Signalling Upgrade Project, helping to reduce track access and enabling the assessment of assets by digital means rather than by visiting the site. A total of more than 50km of track will have been captured by the end of the project phase in January 2020.
Our well-established drone survey operation continued to thrive in 2019, with our expert team of pilots, surveyors and technicians helping to deliver hundreds of projects. In addition to existing high-accuracy surveys of rail infrastructure using our Vogel R3D drone solution, and providing a range of building condition surveys and inspections, we added some exciting new offerings to our fleet – including fixed wing drones for large-area mapping, small caged drones for internal inspections and the capability to deliver thermography reports that identify a building’s heat loss.
Across our entire fleet, we completed nearly 2,500 flights, with almost 400 hours in the air. During this time we captured half-a-million photographs – that’s about 22.5TB of data – and flew approximately 5,000km worth of survey grids.
Behind the scenes – and after months of negotiations – we managed to secure new, enhanced permissions from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which has reduced our clearance distances to the lowest possible numbers, enabling us to fly in virtually all urban areas. Additionally, we upgraded our flight management software to enhance our processes and improve operational efficiency even further.
We flew over museums, office blocks, motorways, gasholders, exhibition centres, racecourses, a famous cricket ground (thankfully the Australian captain had finally finished batting) and even managed to give a drone demonstration at a local school, hopefully inspiring the next generation of surveyors.
BIM there, done that...
In July it was all about BIM, as we became the first UK survey and BIM Consultancy to achieve BSI Kitemark certification in accordance with BS EN ISO 19650. The BSI Kitemark is the highest attainable level of BIM certification from BSI and is only achieved by organisations that can physically prove that they are delivering to the required standards. As our BIM Consultancy continues to grow, the Kitemark certification demonstrates our commitment to providing clients with an unbiased source of BIM advice, knowledge and expertise.
Our BIM Manager, Sian Morris, was instrumental in achieving the Kitemark and wrote a very illuminating article about why it's so important and the many benefits to clients. Head of BIM, James Gregory, gave a number of presentations during the year, talking about our work on the Don Viaduct and the Houses of Parliament - just two of the many large-scale BIM projects we delivered in 2019.
Our Environmental Planning department continued to grow, working closely with clients and stakeholders to help identify and minimise potential risks. The 21 Moorfields project was a great example of how early and constructive engagement – with both the City of London and London Underground in this case – helped to avoid costly delays and reputational damage.
With the development taking place above Moorgate’s Crossrail Ticket Hall and it also being surrounded by residential and commercial buildings, the key environmental risks were noise, vibration and air quality – but thanks to our early assessments and the undertaking of real-time monitoring throughout construction, the local authority was able to see how seriously the issues were being taken, minimising the chance of works being halted.
This year there were lots of great stories to share, with our expert staff receiving plenty of industry recognition and contributing to a range of media articles and activities (plus we conducted some Q&A articles with our staff).
Director David Norris, Technical Specialist Jonathan Fletcher and Head of BIM James Gregory took part in a special webinar with Leica Geosystems over the summer, discussing the company’s 50 years at the cutting edge of new technology and the rapid development of new hardware and software solutions.
Our UAV Manager Tom Wren, meanwhile, contributed to a round-table discussion on whether drones really can provide all the answers to our surveying and mapping challenges. Jonathan Fletcher (again!) also contributed to an article in XYHT magazine, talking about how we used the new Leica RTC 360 laser scanner to great effect. Jon also appeared on screen discussing the future of laser scanning on HXGN Spotlight.
On the awards front, we were delighted to toast the success of two our of female surveyors, Marianna Carcano and Malgorzata Grabos. Both were finalists in the Best Woman Land Surveyor category of the European Women in Construction & Engineering Awards, which recognise and celebrate the achievements of women working in construction, engineering and architecture.
Sticking with the awards theme, another of our surveyors - Marineli Dancheva - received a very prestigious prize from the Council of European Geodetic Surveyors (CLGE), winning first prize in the Geodesy/Topography category at a ceremony that took place at the InterGeo trade fair in Stuttgart.
This year we again invested heavily in gyroscopic underground mapping technology that can autonomously trace and map pipelines, sewers, ducts and tunnels without the need for topside personnel or man-entry. Westminster Road in Macclesfield was a perfect example of where this system came into its own, as the team had to locate two culverts that ran beneath a cemetery, under a road and came out at the back end of a bowling green. Deploying the gyro to great effect and with innovative workflows the team produced some incredibly accurate results - just 150mm off-centre at a depth of 15m…. much to the delight of the client.
We also reaffirmed our commitment to the industry with our membership of the UK Society for Trenchless Technology (UKSTT), while our Utilities Operations Manager, Andy Gundry, was also elected as a council member of the UKSTT and continues to help raise awareness of trenchless techniques across the industry.
Preserving the Palace…
Having been the surveyor of choice for the Houses of Parliament since the 1970s, Plowman Craven has a rich history of scanning, measuring and documenting this UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2016, we were awarded the coveted five-year framework contract to survey the entire Parliamentary Estate - more than a million sq.ft. of internal surfaces – and deliver the comprehensive 3D BIM model that will enable the Restoration and Renewal Programme to proceed.
Throughout 2019 we’ve worked closely with Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt to incorporate his detailed investigation of Parliament’s ventilation voids into the wider building model. This fascinating research is now the subject of a television documentary, with Plowman Craven staff – and, of course, our BIM model – making an appearance. In November we attended a preview of the programme as well as a debate about sustainability in heritage buildings…here’s an excerpt of the documentary, look out for the full version in 2020!
A Time for Giving…
It’s been another successful year for Plowman Craven as a business, but it’s just as important for us to make valuable contributions to good causes and support a range community initiatives. We sponsored the Herts 10K Fun Run for a fourth year in a row, with a team of intrepid runners braving the elements to help this amazing event raise much-needed funds to support the work of Rennie Grove. We also sponsored two nights of Christmas care, enabling Rennie Grove nurses to visit patients with life-limiting illnesses at home, over the festive period.
Instead of a Secret Santa in the office, we once again worked with the Kids Out charity to create a 'Giving Tree'. This is a brilliant initiative whereby staff buy or donate a range of presents, ensuring children who have escaped domestic violence or had to flee their homes receive presents this Christmas.
Other fundraising activities in 2019 included raising funds for the school we sponsor in Sierra Leone and working with a local school here to send over unwanted books to Africa. Internally we ran a series of fundraising events including a Christmas Jumper day for Save the Children, a MacMillan Coffee Morning, a food bank collection, supporting staff in their Movember exploits (for Cancer Research) and made our annual contribution to our local Batford Springs nature reserve.
We also tried to inspire the next generation of surveyors by hosting a group of schoolchildren as part of the World of Work day and demonstrating our drones at a local school.
As the year draws to a close, we wish all of our customers, partners and suppliers a very merry Christmas and a prosperous 2020…
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Plowman Craven has more than 50 years’ experience, we provide integrated measurement and consultancy services.