Halff’s Real Time Asset Data Collection Solution
How many times have you heard “but that’s the way we’ve always done it?” That phrase is becoming obsolete with the advent of ever-changing technology, and Halff is at the forefront of developing real-time solutions for real-world issues. One example is our collaboration with the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) on its Real Time As Built (RTAB) program.
The Story Behind the Solution
TRWD and Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) have partnered to develop the Integrated Pipeline (IPL) from Lake Palestine to Lake Benbrook with connections to Cedar Creek and Richland-Chambers Reservoirs. It will be comprised of 150 miles of pipeline and various ancillary stations and apparatus with more than 99 percent of the project underground.
Traditionally pipelines are constructed based on design plans and pipe segment lay-sheet information. During construction, adjustments to the original plans are to account for on-the-ground conditions. These adjustments have traditionally been documented on the design plans by construction inspectors and, at the end of the project, result in as-built drawings. Unfortunately, as-built drawings do not always represent the most accurate horizontal and vertical location and in some cases do not reflect all changes made in the field. In the case of pipeline construction, where the majority of the assets are buried, this can be very costly in the future when assets need to be located for operation and maintenance activities.
TRWD envisioned an RTAB program to ensure that the IPL assets are surveyed at the time of construction. The District’s RTAB program had two primary goals. First, use as-built surveys to check asset placement compared to the original design and pipe manufacturer specifications. If the asset is outside of the allowable tolerance, then the error would be captured and the appropriate correction could be made. Second, the survey location would be stored directly within the District’s Geographic Information System (GIS). Storing the survey data directly in the GIS would increases the efficiency of the data collection, ensure that the survey data is not lost, and make it available in realtime to all the stakeholders whether they are located in the field or the office.
The District asked Halff to develop a solution that would accomplish these goals. Our solution is called Real Time Asset Collection (RTAC). RTAC is the application that automates the RTAB program and accomplished the realtime integration needed for the IPL project.
The overall RTAC solution can be summarized into three primary steps: 1) Collect the data; 2) Transfer the data; and 3) Process the data.
Halff leveraged survey grade GPS equipment already in use by District staff to accomplish Step 1. The District’s GPS equipment achieved high-accuracy GPS coordinates by utilizing a virtual reference station (VRS) network to receive real-time kinematic (RTK) corrections. A VRS network requires a cellular network connection, and this connection provided the mechanism for Step 2 to transfer the asset data in real-time via cloud storage synchronization (i.e., Dropbox, Box, etc.). Halff accomplished Step 3 by developing an innovative, custom application that automated the transfer of the pipeline asset information from the field data collector directly to the GIS database.
The value of accurate information in real time can be measured by the efficient communication from the field to stakeholders and from stakeholders to project owners. The RTAC solution puts survey accurate information in a readily accessible and understandable format, i.e., maps, securely stored in a database and in the hands of the decision-makers. While it is sometimes necessary to make changes in the field, there is a huge benefit when the stakeholders can manage cost through effective and efficient conflict mitigation by having the most up-to-date information readily accessible.
Halff has the expertise to develop and implement technological advancements in collaboration with clients to address their needs and wants. We welcome the opportunity to help you tackle your problems. Halff has a multi-disciplined team of professionals who work together to help clients achieve long-lasting results and the greatest value for our clients’ investments. If Halff Associates can assist your team, please call Greg Kuhn, PE, Vice President, at (214) 346-6252.
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