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Construction Management Done Spatially: GIS Integration into Pipeline Construction Inspection and Management

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This paper will present innovative uses of established Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to provide simple construction tracking tools and share digital project data with stakeholders. Efficient progress tracking, enhanced customer service, and geospatial analytical capabilities are GIS advantages that can be easily integrated into construction projects with minimal investment in labor or technology.

The Highway 27 Pumping Station and Force Main Project for Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities (CMU) provided an ideal testing ground for construction management integration of GIS because of the distributed nature of the construction work. This project involved the installation of approximately five miles of gravity sewer, a quarter mile of force main, and a small pumping station with construction work spread over 7 square miles.

Typical pipeline construction inspection duties include tracking of construction and testing throughout the life of the project, as well as coordination with individuals who may be unfamiliar with the project or are managing many projects. Information management of activities at the construction site are typically done with construction drawings, daily journals, photographs, and a variety of paperwork associated with testing (i.e. pressure testing, mandrel pulling, etc‥). Retrieval of this information is not generally an easy task and can take a considerable amount of time to assemble and manipulate into a presentable format.

ArcGIS was used to combine construction drawings and testing logs into one location. Proposed gravity lines and manholes were extracted from AutoCAD files and a useful schema was applied to store existing data, such as station number and pipe diameter, as well as future data, such as installation date and testing records. This laid the mapping framework for the inspection duties of later construction work.

The next step was to update the pipeline and manhole information to reflect the progress of the project. This involved relocating manholes and pipes as required for field changes, entering installation dates, and tracking erosion control measures. This information provided an excellent source for calculating accurate progress reports and evaluating the efficiency of the contractor. This information was also invaluable during monthly coordination meetings in which the Owner could view simple graphic representations of the progress of the project.

Finally, the most advantageous aspect of GIS tracking was recording the line integrity and compaction testing for the project. This included pressure testing, mandrel testing, manhole vacuum testing and compaction testing. Testing logs that may normally be in many locations were now located in a single repository. GIS analysis could be quickly performed on this data on short notice and presented in a simple map format. This allowed those who were not intimately connected to the project to instantly be up-to-date on the progress of the project by simply viewing the map.

Punch lists were prepared and documented using Trimble GPS equipment. Photographs were documented and later hyperlinked to attribute fields to provide visual queues. Asset specific comments were directly connected to the associated assets for later reference.

The ultimate goal of processing this data through GIS is that information is available to all concerned parties through a variety of software options. Information can be disseminated through conventional standards such as paper or pdf. But, the true power of GIS is employed when project data is accessed through Google Earth, (via .kml files), ESRI products (e.g. ArcGIS Server), or directly downloaded to the ever increasing number of portable GPS devices (PDA, Blackberry, etc…). Project information will now be available to anyone with a network connection instead of just within the construction trailer.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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