Using Google Apps Scripts to automate conformance reporting for clients

Using Google Apps Script to automate conformance reporting for clients

CGS have been adopting Google Sheets for most reporting in recent projects. Utilising this versatile tool along with some custom "Google Apps Script" we have been able to offer our clients close to "real-time" conformance results.

The basic procedure is:

  1. Conventional on site survey to QA the finished asset
  2. Once the data has been manually checked and verified as accurate, it is processed and exported in one mouse click in our CAD software 12d using a custom "chain" and "macro"
  3. The data is then automatically imported into its respective tab of our clients conformance sheet using a "Google Apps Script"
  4. Finally a pdf is exported of newly added data, as well as a snapshot pdf of all current data and sent to a distribution list of client personnel dependant on which section of the job the data is in.

The beauty of this procedure is that, other than the conventional survey to collect the data and the one mouse click in 12d the rest is entirely automated!

Also, as well as having the pdf exports emailed, we also give our clients access to their own copy of the entire Google sheet, meaning they can have current data minutes after it has been surveyed in the field.

The subgrade example above shows a typical sheet with the custom menu options for use by us and the client. Giving them the ability to filter by chainage range and date range in this example then export a pdf of the area/layer in question to a shared Google Drive folder with the correct standardised naming convention, date, signatures, logos, etc all done automatically.

Another advantage of doing these tasks via a script is inbuilt error checking. For example below is a warning that appears if gaps in the data are identified greater than 50 meters in chainage:

Prior to the use of Google Sheets this process was a painfully laborious task taking hours every day for a data processor. As well as the unavoidable manual QA checks on the data, the data processor would also have to do manual exports from 12d, then formatting in Microsoft Office and other applications using templates, and then manually emailing to relevant personnel.

Using this system our clients have current data at their fingertips shortly after construction is completed and are able to interrogate the entire data set or filter it as they wish without having to wait for an email from an ever frustrated surveyor to get back to them!

If you would like more information about having these systems introduced for your reporting get in touch for a demo.

CGS's latest employee - The Tiny Surveyor

CGS's latest employee - The Tiny Surveyor

We recently added a new member to the team in the form of "The Tiny Surveyor" a three-wheeled robot advertised as "The world’s fastest robot for stake-out" saving time (and backs) on 200km of set-out

It is well understood that set-out surveys require high levels of precision and accuracy. So critical is the need for accurate set-out that the timeframe is often just accepted for what it is. This is where automation comes in.

Our crews working on a major rail project in Queensland have been achieving remarkable efficiency setting out marks to align the sleepers and rail for over 200km of track using the Tiny Surveyor Robot.

This is a line marking tool that integrates with a GNSS receiver or total station and accurately marks the guidelines for track laying and sleeper laying machines with standard marker spray. It travels along at a good clip (jogging speed for most of us) and sprays the marks as it goes to RTK accuracies.

Our team is excited to use it on line-marking work for road construction jobs as they know it will save hours of back-breaking work. We are also busy exploring the benefits of other automated technology for setting out and how we can save on time without compromising accuracy.

Check out the time-lapse video below of the robot marking part of a 4km section along the alignment that was completed in less than an hour.

The Value of Engineering Services

The Value of Engineering Services

Engineering services represent one of the largest sections of the industrial world, with an estimated $750 billion worth of value addition per year. These services comprise a vast swathe of design and support services essential for the functioning of practically every industry, spread across the entire spectrum of engineering.

A significant portion of these services also are being outsourced and there is potential for more outsourcing in this field.

Engineering services are service functions directly linked to or related to core engineering processes. Examples are: (1) CAD / CAM (computer aided manufacturing / design), (2) Auto design, (3) Failure analysis of structural steel. A definite difference lies between engineering functions and engineering service functions. Auto engine manufacturing is an engineering function, while a similar engineering service function lies in engine design. It is analogous to the difference between manufacturing and manufacturing support services.

Engineering services work is taken to be a value-added service. It is not possible to be automated due to various factors and emerging technologies. Engineering services keep in touch with the client at all steps. The user may be included in the process too. It is an iterative process, where consistent reevaluation of the process and the progress is required. Modifications are involved as a natural part of the overall process. Once completed, engineering services may cover the operation, the sales, or instruction on the use of the product.

Engineering services are divided into phases: (1) Idea Phase - Identification of a problem or an idea (new building, product) (2) Analysis of the idea or problem. Solution is designed under guiding factors listed below. (3) Test Phase - The engineer applies the design to a model to test. This would occur more frequently with products as opposed to construction. (4) Manufacturing or Construction Phase - Engineering services supervise the manufacturing processes (for electrical and mechanical engineering), construction (mainly for civil engineering), or improvements made to a plant operating system. Modifications are made during this process. (5) Product Completion or Production-Engineering service provider or manufacturer may simply hand product over to the client (e.g. electrical device).

(4) Manufacturing or Construction Phase - Engineering services look after the supervision of manufacturing processes (for electrical and mechanical engineering), construction (primarily for civil engineering), or improvements made to a plant operating system. In this process modifications are added. (5) Product Completion or Production-Engineering service provider or manufacturer may simply hand product over to the client (e.g. electrical device).

Also, they may sell the product (e.g. scientific instrument), may actually operate the product (power plant), or may teach the operation to the user (e.g. office building). Standards play a large role in engineering work as much of engineering results in the design of products. Standards serve to facilitate the reproduction and ensure compatibility between products. This could be in the form of standard software formats or guidelines for fitting screws or pipes.

The Importance of Experience in the Construction Industry

The Importance of Experience in the Construction Industry

Do you really need experience for a construction job? Several would say that experience is not really necessary, and many construction companies do hire workers with no experience for smaller jobs. But according to James Day, an experienced AECOM public health engineer, experience is vital especially for construction and engineering students.

"Start looking for work experience as early as you can, even in your first year, Don't wait for your department s work placement tutors to feed opportunities to you."

James Day

And Day isn t the only one who thinks experience is essential. Most graduate recruiters agree that construction-related experience really improves a graduate s chances of landing job offers in the future. In the TARGET jobs recruiters board held last year, majority of recruiters pointed out that generally, when it came to job offers graduates who had industry work experience were better able to answer pertinent questions and tackle assessment exercises.

The benefits of experience are not only limited to graduates, but extends to those who continue to expand their experience through the years.

Gaining Experience at the Start

For the majority of those entering the construction industry the most difficult part is finding opportunities to gain experience at the very start. Usually, recruiters won t take graduates on an unpaid basis due to minimum wage legislation, and most other companies can t afford adding paid placement students over the people they have already hired.

So what can construction students do to gain some early experience? Here are some helpful tips:

• Get sponsored. Sponsorships or scholarships from construction companies will not only provide financial support to students but will guarantee work experience placements, particularly during the holidays.

• Apply for paid work experience schemes. There are plenty available online for all kinds of construction-related positions from quantity surveyors to engineers to project managers.

• Work-shadow. Knowing the predicament of construction students, recruiters have been very keen on giving students every possible opportunity to gain experience. One of these is work-shadowing opportunities. When students spend time observing professionals at work rather than taking on work themselves, they don t go against any legislation and still gain insights regarding the work involved. To gain this opportunity, students must write well-researched and well-written cover letters and CVs asking for permission to work shadow a professional.

• Voluntary work. It s possible to do voluntary construction work during the gap year, but this may require a fee or some fundraising for certain charities.

• Temp work. If possible, students should check whether they can get temp work in a related field.

There s no doubt that experience bears a lot of weight in the field of construction. Gain it early and develop it consistently and you can achieve much success in the industry.