Significance of TQM in Civil Engineering

Quality Control is a term that needs no special introduction as it’s self-explanatory. While it’s essential in every field to check and recheck to ensure quality, the need for quality management is at peaks for certain industries such as medical and civil engineering as any compromise on quality can have devastating effects and result in casualty. As we deal with civil engineering, let’s focus at to why quality management is so crucial, and the methods applied in this domain to ensure top-notch quality.

Before we swing into the details of Quality Control, it’s essential to understand TQM (Total Quality Management).  The total quality management is a methodology that ensures 360-degree quality in every department of an enterprise.  The quality issue is given strategic importance in the enterprises where TQM is in place. While many top enterprises focused on TQM over the years, it seeped through the Civil Engineering industry in the 1990s when its significance was mentioned in many publications by Low and Teo in early 2000s. Haupt & Whiteman too published several articles on the International Journey of Civil Engineering and Technology in 2004. How is TQM achieved? Well, it’s a continuous process, say Akshara and Vidya who conducted a detailed study on 25 international construction enterprises on quality of construction. The report indicated that TCM is often achieved through feedbacks. It is through the response received from the existing customers, the quality of the products can be maintained or increased. According to Haupt and Whiteman, TQM is directly related to the overall excellence in the Civil Construction industry.

According to a study by Dept. of Civil and Architectural Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, construction worker and professionals have a fair understanding of how good quality products and services improve the brand image of the enterprise.

A study conducted by the International Islamic University in Malaysia has revealed interesting results. It mentioned that most of the construction projects in Malaysia fail to meet quality standards. There are challenges in quality management and there’s a need to strengthen construction projects in Malaysia, said the report. Compared to the western countries, Asia Pacific apparently pays minimal attention to streamlining quality control process, with customer feedbacks being presumed as complaints.

However, many construction enterprises get ISO 9001 2000 certification. ISO mandates the following practices:

  1. Factual approach to construction projects
  2. Quality plan and procedure
  3. Focus on customer satisfaction and feedback
  4. Efficient leadership
  5. People (employees, suppliers, and leadership) involvement
  6. Analysis plan and
  7. Continuous progress in quality

Compared to other industries, the construction industry is completely unique with distinct characteristics as most of the construction projects as single-order design projects, and participants of a project—such as workers, contractors and materials’ vendor different from project to project. It is, therefore, more challenging for civil construction to streamline quality control. However, below are certain factors exclusively for this industry to achieve quality control. 

                 

 

 

 

 

 Factors Affecting TCM in the Construction Industry

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How to Think Like Your Client?

With angel investors and banks stretching their arms and inviting budding entrepreneurs for trying their hands at entrepreneurship, every other individual is keen on labeling himself as an entrepreneur irrespective of experience and knowledge on client’s pulse, obviously for the reasons known to everyone. However, how many succeed would not depend on luck as a section of people strongly cast their vote on this absurd topic. Then what else transforms an individual into a true entrepreneur? It’s his strong understanding of a client’s requirement and his thought process. Once you master it, then there’s nothing in the world that shall stop you from spreading the wings across the globe. And that’s the time when an individual becomes an institution and his ideas become the morals of the business.

Read on to know more about how to think like your client.

Respect the Time: Who wouldn’t love to schedule a call with the prospective client and drop by at his office with tons of presentations? Unless you have a solid plan to a client’s pain point or have top-notch services to offer, it’s better not to disturb your existing client or a potential one. For just like yourself, your client’s time is valuable and it’s pertinent to respect the client’s time and calendar. Blocking your client’s calendar just to explain directionless and unfocussed ideas would close the doors with that client forever.  So, ensure that your meetings are always informative, and beneficial to the client.

Never Ending Proposal Letters: Do you know that an average American, a native English speaker, read around 300 words per minute. Shooting a proposal letter that would consume an hour of your client is worth it? Can it win the projects?  Maybe yes but there’s always a risk factor associated with lengthy proposal letters.  Several experts opined that a good proposal letter shouldn’t go beyond 4 pages or 2500 words. Condense it and make it crisper.

Be Specific About Deadlines: Be practical and objective when it comes to deadlines for the projects. If a task takes more time that the proposed time by the client, it’s always better to straight away tell the clear timeline as it would not be odd but even frustrating for the client if you can’t meet the deadline. Although you might impress the client upfront by accepting the timeline, at the end of the day, you might lose a potential client.

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Smart City Concept Set to Remodel Civil Infra Industry

The rapid industrialization and technological advancements have paved way to many things out of which the era of SMART CITY will surely be etched in gold letters and would go onto the history for sure. We exactly don’t know how and when this Smart City concept came on to the cards although ECO-U-CITY in South Korea entered news as a first-ever smart city. This concept is slowly changing the way infrastructure enterprises are going to remodel themselves.

We are just at the beginning of the IoT era where internet is leveraged to connect multiple devices for seamless connectivity on the go. With the emergence of IoT, civil infrastructure companies made use of the sensors in a deep foundation that would help engineers monitor the health of the structures. And soon, we would witness these companies swinging into laying bridges, roads and setting up traffic signals that would seamlessly support the self-driven/ automated/ unmanned motor vehicles.

The impact of smart cities on the civil infrastructure industry:

According to several reports, by 2040, smart vehicles would dominate the transport industry and the growing popularity would undoubtedly have a massive impact on civil infra sector. The reports indicated that the road widening projects are likely to be rolled off that would lead to something called infrastructure dividend.

  1. Parking Garages: Going forward the existing parking lots would not be used as the self-driven cars would have the ability to park themselves efficiently. So, the current system of the slope to get into the garage would be redesigned and more cars would be accommodated as the need for opening the doors would cease.
  2. Road-Widening: As mentioned earlier, road widening projects would cease to exist due to rising in the roadway efficiency.
  3. Law Enforcement: According to AA Mid-Atlantic, at least 773 tickets were issued by the law enforcement bodies in Washington DC in the recent past that amounted to over $37mn for traffic violations. Since self-driven cars are programmed to meet
  4. traffic regulations, the need for law enforcement and even the signals would apparently vanish.
  5. Insurance: The insurance claims due to accidents, which occur because of human errors, would eventually disappear as the scope of road accidents through automated cars is near zero, according to the auto manufacturers.

While smart cities have their own merits, a major concern that’s being widely debated is cyber security. To understand that same, ISACA conducted smart city research. While 15% of respondents said that smart cities would be truly beneficial that would be equipped with top-notch smart infrastructure, 71% of them felt that malware/ ransomware would have a negative impact. They have also said that 76% of attacks would be on cyber industry, 70% on communications and 62% on financial services.

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Top 5 Advantages of Driven Piles

Popularly called as displacement piles, driven piles are used to transfer loads of the structures on to them seamlessly such that they support the bridges and heave infrastructures for decades. In fact, a foundation can be termed as pile when the depth of such a foundation is at least 3 times the breadth of the foundation. Driven piles are pre-determined long cylindrical structures that are essentially made of steel, timber or concrete. Robust machinery would be leveraged to drill the structures into the ground by applying pressure and through vibrations.

According to a study published by FHWA, driven piles are much more durable and stronger than their actual design capacity. With bundled benefits, many vendors and construction enterprises are opting driven piles for their giant structure. Let us understand the top 5 advantages of driven piles.

Seamless Installation: Driven piles can be installed without any hassles as they can be prefabricated off-site. This will be helpful in better and efficient installation.

Cost-Effective: Driven piles typically don’t fail as they are tested in the lab itself before the second level of load testing is done at the site. This helps the vendor in reducing the unwanted expenditure. Also, a precast driven pile would mobilize the higher values of shaft adhesion that will help a vendor use even shorter length piles while wet concrete would be used partially making the foundation even stronger.

Minimal Soil Disposal: Since the precast piles would be driven systematically, it wouldn’t lead to major soil accumulation, unlike traditional deep foundations where the soil needs to be removed the could result in damaging the actual design of the project.

Superior Strength: Driven piles are stronger compared to other types of foundation. They are designed to resist bends such that they withstand gusty winds, cyclones, and other natural calamities.  Also, they displace the soil that would increase the bearing capacity. Further, they don’t bulge and maintain their shape even if additional piles are installed.

Adaptability: A vendor has an option to select the type of the pile, which would vary from steel to concrete to wood, based on his budget. Irrespective of its type, all types are designed to adapt to different types of soil. In the case of mixed soil types, an engineer might suggest leveraging multiple piles.

The Imperial College London and Zhejiang University China have jointly conducted a study to understand the behavior of driven piles and as to why they have been widely embraced by vendors. The study mentioned that the driven piles don’t tend to bend nor change their shape when different types of load tests were conducted making driven piles better option for deep foundations.

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Leveraging IT in Civil Engineering

Gone are the days where every single activity in civil engineering—right from planning to execution—was manual. We have seen giant enterprises leverage the sophisticated and robust infrastructure for pile testing, foundation, and construction. Is that all sufficient for a seamless construction? No, it is undoubtedly an answer to anyone who’s come across books such as “Information Technology Applied in Civil Engineering Business,” by Minegava. The argument that IT is crucial in civil engineering was not limited to this book but even voiced strongly at The Fourth Joint International Symposium on Information Technology in Civil Engineering, which was held at Nashville way back in 2003.

The early 2000s or late nineties were the years that witnessed the rapid change that transformed not just the businesses but the lifestyle of an average man, thanks to the emergence of Information Technology. Today, we live in what we call IT Era where this information technology not just dominates every enterprise but dictates, and the reason is simple that it paves the way for the advanced workstyle through seamless procedures that ensure transparency, agility, and perfection.

While many civil engineering enterprises have switched to IT and made the entire civil engineering planning frictionless, there are still some enterprises that are apprehensive about embracing IT. Every enterprise customer or vendor or contractor must ensure that the civil engineering company that they approach should have embraced IT failing which complexities would hamper the seamless workflow and execution and project would be done at snail pace.

So, what is that IT makes it such a difference? Why IT in Civil Engineering? If you are still puzzled, then read on to find out as we unveil the merits of the same.

According to The Guidebook of Information Technology in Civil Engineering, construction IT is crucial for the civil engineering industry as it would improve the efficiency of the structure and overcome the existing challenges arising out of manual operations

Boost the Productivity of an Engineer: By leveraging the computers and design modeling, a civil engineer can roll out multiple designs in short period of time when compared to manual model. Also, any modifications can be done swiftly with the help of software, unlike manual where the entire plan would head to dustbin in case minor modifications.

CAD: Computer Aided Design (CAD) is fast catching up in the civil engineering industry. It helps the engineer to synthesize the design. The same can be documented properly without the threat of damage. This documentation typically involves dimensions and geometries of the product. Several reports indicated that all major projects across the US and other countries were designed with the help of CAD. So, next time you approach a civil engineering enterprise, ensure that the engineers over there know CAD.

Auto Desk Architectural Desktop: Imagine you tweaked the design and what next? You need to change the entire architectural design that includes stairs, walls, entrances, etc. which is undoubtedly time-consuming. By leveraging Auto Desk Architectural Desktop, architectural objects are updated automatically whenever there’s a change in the design.

3D Visualization & Virtual Reality: With the help of software prototyping and mixed reality, you can have a walk through the entire design that would give a 360-degree holistic view of the design through mixed reality ilens such as Google Lens & HoloLens, which is not possible in a manual design. Also, you could have the design copy for yourself such that you can cross check anytime if the constructed structure is in line with the proposed design explained to the individual or the vendor initially.

Topography: IT can help the engineering in mapping the entire base maps and elevation contours in a systematic procedure based on which an exact construction plan could be made, which also helps in ascertaining which equipment should be used in the construction based on the terrain type.

Primavera: It is one of the leading software that will help civil engineers for management and project planning. With the help of login credentials, the vendor can have the access to the progress of the plan, the materials used so far and every minute detail of the project through a single click from any part of the globe. Powered by Oracle, Primavera provides unlimited data storage and swift access. Site engineers would update the data from the location that could be directly visible to the project managers. This even provides a 360-degree view of the project and puts all the workforce on the same page.

Contracts and Bidding: By executing contracts and biddings through ERP based cloud enabled tools, the entire process would become seamless and ensures comprehensive transparency. All the records would be saved permanently for future that has ultimate legal protection instead of maintaining papers and manual files that can be misplaced or damaged.

Now that you understood the significance of Information Technology in Civil Engineering do check if your civil infrastructure enterprise has embraced IT or not.

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Static v Dynamic Load Test-Which is More Beneficial for Your Structure?

When the history of Civil Engineering unfolds its chapters, load testing enjoys a special place. This highly specialized branch came to counter the structural loads. According to Wikipedia, Structural Loads are forces or accelerations applied to a structure that leads to structural damage or even demolition. The first recorded incident that emphasized the architectural load testing dates to 1930 when significant cracks extending from basement to cellar were recorded at a football stadium in the United States.

What’s the Purpose of Load Testing?

A load test is the approved process to test the integrity and strength of the piles to ensure that it would support the structure even during adversities such as natural calamities or other accidents. To perform the structural load test, the structure should at least be 50+ days old as per the American Concrete Institute (ACI).

There are two widely accepted load testing—Static Load Testing and Dynamic Load Testing. Although both have their own merits, let us delve into the advantages of these both.

Static Load Testing:

Considered to be the traditional form of load testing, static load testing will help an engineer determine the bearing capacity of the deep foundations. The pressure that is applied to the pile is relatively slow and is time-consuming in a static load testing. During static load testing, calibrated load cells are leveraged to monitor the load while the electrical displacement transducers would record the pile settlement. As the name suggests, the weight of static load testing would be consistent. Static load testing is standardized by ASTM DD1143.

Some of the advantages of Static Load Testing include:

  1. Cost-effective
  2. Feasibility to get swift results
  3. Can be performed without an execution plan such as a walkthrough, inspection, etc.,

 

Dynamic Load Testing:

Unlike static load testing, dynamic load testing doesn’t follow a consistency is exerting the pressure on the piles. Standardized by ASTM D4945, dynamic load testing helps in ascertaining the end bearing and the shaft resistance. Since it’s less time consuming, a geo-technical engineer can perform multiple dynamic load testing in a day, and it’s for the same reason that dynamic load testing has been widely accepted by geo-technical engineers over the past couple of years. Several studies suggested that a dynamic load test is relatively crucial in determining the capacity and integrity of the pile if performed by expert engineers.

Since many debates surrounding static load testing v dynamic load testing are rife, many universities and engineering professors conducted several studies to ascertain as to which form of testing gives an edge over the other.  According to a study by Y.K Tandel, Research Scholar with NIT, dynamic test load is carried out owing to low operational costs. Also, the study revealed that the settlement measured through static load test was higher when compared to dynamic load testing.  The report further mentioned that the static load test was ideal in case the test load is low while the dynamic load test is perfect to provide a holistic picture of the pile integrity.

Based on the many such studies, it was concluded that a static load test should be carried out initially before dynamic load testing to ensure the overall strength of the structure. However, based on your structure’s size, a geo-technical engineer would be the right person to tell which test should be performed.

 

 

 

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How to Prevent Rock Failures

Rock failures are quite common, and the incidents of people being killed due to landslides keep hitting the headlines regularly. Is there any perfect plan to prevent rock failure? Can civil engineers have something to offer? Can we completely put a check to the same? Fortunately, a civil engineer can lay out ideal plans to prevent rock failures. We try to explore the seldom touched topic and present you the methods as to the governments can step in and start implementing these procedures.

According to the United States Geological Society of America, every year, at least 50 people are killed in landslides. While it mentioned that landslides could occur in all the 50 states, pacific coastal ranges such as California, Washington, Hawaii, and Oregon are prone to rockfalls.

While there are many natural and civil engineering methods for preventing rock failures, let us examine the role civil engineering plays primarily through retaining walls.

Retaining walls: Retaining walls are the supporting structures that are built specifically to support the surrounding hillock or the structure that can create a landslide due to its geographical position. They help in restraining the soil to the slope built in the terrain areas. They are basically four types of retaining walls: gravity wall, piling wall, cantilever wall, and anchored wall.

  1. Gravity wall: A gravity wall stands on its weight without any support. Constructed from concrete, masonry and brick, a gravity wall is usually 10 feet tall. In some cases, steel can be leveraged to reduce the thickness of the wall, which can be called as semi-gravity walls. The stone foundation, like structures that you see near the landscapes are excellent examples of gravity walls.
  2. Piling Wall: These structures can form part and parcel of the deep foundation. Considered to be cost-effective, piling walls are constructed by adjusting one pile after the other meticulously. Piling walls are ideal, especially where there’s a railway line and also near tunnels as it’s too dangerous if the landslide blocks the tunnel pathway that can result in a gory train mishap.

III.    Cantilever wall: Working on the principles of leverage, cantilever walls are constructed with concrete.  They leverage the weight of the backfill soil, and the stems of these walls are thinner compared to other types of retaining walls. Before proposing the cantilever wall, a civil engineer would assess the nature and model of the soil, kind of the wall, materials used in the construction of the wall, and subsoil water movements. So, it is pertinent to consult a civil engineer who would decide on which type of retaining wall is beneficial. Also, cantilever walls can further be of two types: – a large toe with a short heel, and a tall heel with a sharp toe. Like mentioned earlier, only an engineer would be the right person to assess what’s appropriate.

  1. Anchored wall: Anchored walls are built around the steel or other metals that have sharp tips at both ends. While one end pushed the wall against the terrain, the other end retains it thereby giving maximum support.

Not just governments but even individuals and business owners should pay attention to retaining walls in case the proposed construction is on the terrain.

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Multiple Bores-Holes that Help Your Structures

As we dive deep into the depths of civil engineering, bored pile foundations catch our attention as they sit in the soil and support the structure but then how does the soil help these foundation piles? To ensure that these foundations are laid down in the right area where the soil is healthy, a civil engineer performs boring in multiple areas, which is referred to as multiple bores.

 Types of Multiple Bores:

Displacement Boring: This type of boring is generally not suitable in the sand areas. It is carried out to understand the soil character through penetration resistance. Usually, 25mm to 75mm holes are made through displacement bore.

Wash Boring: Often carried out by the limited equipment, its inexpensive approach makes it one of the most sought-after ones by the vendors and contractors. A pipe—usually of 5cm diameter—is driven into the soil and then filled with water. When the pressure is applied, slurry soil comes out of the tube. Based on the color of the soil, its quality and type are ascertained.

Auger Boring: Ideal for soft to stiff soil types, Auger Boring is widely used for piling for both small and significant structures. The auger that’s equipped with the steel casing will rotate to collect the soil. Compared to other types, auger boring is efficient and saves time.

Rotary Drilling: As the name suggests, in rotary drilling, a sharp machine is drilled into the soil that even cleaves through the rock. The broken hard soil or rocks are then removed for examination. It is suitable when the designed hole diameter is not exceeding 20cm. It is the robust and conventional method of bore drilling, although it’s often expensive.

Percussion Drilling: When auger boring and water boring don’t work due to hard soil and the presence of rocks, percussion drilling comes to the forefront as a rescue. Percussion drilling is a manual process wherein the hammer is attached to the rope that will be descendent into the soil through the temporary casing with the help of a tripod. Since the stick is at cutting end, it will easily break through the stones and can reach depths of several hundred feet. Earlier, China-based engineers reached a whopping 4000 feet through multiple bores.

Benefits of Multiple Bores:

  • Stable structures that can have strong foundations
  • Less economical as foundation repairs would not crop up in the future
  • Can get the holistic view of the subsurface soil type
  • Extensive excavations can be significantly minimized
  • Engineers can construct Caissons of high capacity seamlessly  by expanding the base of the soil
  • Piles can be extended beyond and below the seasonal moisture variation
  • Minimal or zero disruption to the surrounding soil

 

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Merits of Miniature Shaft Inspection Device

Out of all the civil engineering technologies, Miniature Shaft Inspection device enjoys a unique position. Founded and first implemented in one of the major projects in Florida in 1986 by the Florida Department of Transportation, this dynamic device helped the structural engineering in finding out the depths of the subsoil that helped in the seamless construction of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Since then, this device has become part and parcel in the construction of significant projects. Read on to find the benefits of the Miniature Shaft Inspection.

By leveraging this new technology, it is possible to understand the extreme bottom surface of a drilled shaft or a bored pile for that matter. Several other benefits come bundled with the miniature device.

Holistic view:  The constructions of skyscrapers and other massive structures are said to be sound when their foundation is ideal. To ensure that the foundations are perfect, it is pertinent for the geo-technical engineers to ensure the quality of the soil underneath. Earlier, civil engineers used to assess based on extracting the soil from the bottom, but still, it would only provide the picture of the soil type. By fixing a camera to this miniature device, the engineers send it down through a shallow shaft until the desired level is reached. Every minute detail is visible on the connected devices, thereby providing a holistic view of the bore.

Ruling out cracks: A sonic sensor would also be embedded in the miniature shaft inspection device. When the device emits sensors, it will record the condition of the soil and alert the engineer in case of any cracks anywhere along the shallow shaft.

Measures thickness: This device is also helpful in measuring the width of the debris.

Easy Transportation: Given that the size of the camera and the entire equipment is small, it’s portable to carry to any remote location without any friction.

Time-Saving: To blindly go ahead with the piling without having the 360-degree view of the sidewall shear, shaft bottom, and settlement, it would be risky, time-consuming and costly affair for the vendors and contractors. Imagine what would be the situation if the pile fails in a particular location? The entire pile needs to be removed, and testing should be done in another area, which undoubtedly costs dearer. The miniature shaft inspection device eliminates these issues with ease.

Achieves Greater Depths: This device is entirely reliable and safe as it can reach a depth of 200 feet and above without frictions making it an ideal for gigantic constructions. Today, engineering marvels across apparently leveraged this technology.

Fast Analysis: It would take a few minutes for the device to reach the expected depth, thereby providing the overall scenario of the soil in a jiffy.

Feasibility to Save Images: As the camera is directly linked to the computers, the footage can be recorded and viewed as a future reference when a contractor or vendor or customer want to explain their efforts involved in constructing a project right from scratch, which starts with the inspection of the subsurface.

AFT is an expert in leveraging Miniature Shaft Device. We help the enterprise customers and contractors to avail this technology to save their time and efforts. For more details, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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Impact of IoT on Civil Engineering

Of all the things that technology has been offering to humankind, the Internet of Things (IoT) as it’s popularly called, is rapidly changing the way businesses work.  The convergence of embedded sensors, real-time analytics, and machine learning paved the way for what we call IoT. Although there’s probably no dictionary meaning about IoT, Wikipedia states it as internet connectivity of extension to multiple devices. In short, it’s nothing but connecting the devices by leveraging the cloud platform. Coined and brought to light by Kevin Ashton from P&G, he demonstrated the way computers can use radio frequency identification to manage all the connected devices, and the first article on IoT was published in 2002. Initially, IoT was leveraged for commercial and consumer use. Over the years, IoT phased into the infrastructure and construction industry to make things seamless.

Previously, there was nothing called as monitoring the health of the structure. With the help of the embedded sensors that are connected to computers, a civil engineer can seamlessly monitor the health of the building 24×7 until the structure exists. Many enterprises have started offering lifetime monitoring of the structures. The sensors that are embedded and seated deep under the subsurface layers can exchange the data—about the temperature, any variations in sound or the changes in the foundation structures—in real-time. So, in case of any serious issue, the engineer monitoring the construction site would swing into action and fix the problem timely.

IoT saves time and effort without a second thought. When you intend to construct a project, you will allocate the funds for the delivery of raw materials, which can be wrongly utilized. To combat such instances, IoT enabled tags can be applied to the construction materials such that you can track your articles at the comfort of a single click from your home. The huge setbacks on the site due to mechanical failures can be countered by embedded the equipment with high-end automatic IoT sensors that would trigger the notices in case of the infrastructure requires repair. Issues about the amount of electricity used can also be kept under check by leveraging IoT sensors.

Do you know that workplace safety, especially at the construction sites, is always a concern even in developed countries like the United States mainly due to deployment in hazardous places and dangerous tasks? According to a survey by WRIS, nearly 56000 workers at construction sites were injured due to electrocutions, and collisions, which equates to 150 construction workers daily.  With the help of IoT, workers are isolated from heavy-duty equipment, and several hazardous tasks were automated.

According to a study conducted by the 4th International Conference on Computing for Sustainable Global Development, IoT can be leveraged for building the smart cities. The concept of a smart city is fast catching up, which would be something like a planned city. However, the street lights would automatically on only when the vehicle passes and turns off in case of zero traffic. All the enterprises would be connected to the smart hubs that would receive automatic triggers from the companies in case of any requirements or even emergency for that matter. These smart hubs further exchange the information to the respective authorities in real-time.

If you are planning to construct a skyscraper or a mega-structure, ensure that you have the sensors embedded into the piles that would detect disturbances in the foundation and help in monitoring the overall health of the structure.

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Importance of Site Planning

Have you ever come across the news about any structure that was demolished on the pretext of violating the rules? Did you happen to visit any primary construction site that was tough to find because of its poor road connectivity or location? These incidents often loom large because of minimal or zero prior engineering consultation. Read on as we try to unveil the significance of the site planning, its stages and its elements.

According to many eminent researchers in a civil engineering discipline, site planning kicks-off with site analysis. Well, not to get confused that site analysis and site planning are synonymous. We know that site planning revolves around design and chalking out a plan for the execution of the project, but what exactly is site analysis and how is it different from site planning? Don’t worry as they are no more rhetoric questions.

Site analysis is the systematic process that diligently examines the urban design process or the architectural design process for that matter. For instance, to analyze and understand if the climatic conditions, to explore the geographical topography and history of the site.

Once your civil engineer is content with the site analysis, he would prepare a holistic report of the same that should ideally be submitted to the vendor or the enterprise customer who would understand the complexities if any post which the process of site planning begins.

Synthesis Phase: This forms part and parcel of site planning wherein the engineer would roll out a schematic design of the proposed plan along with the cost estimation in detail. It’s only after the synthesis phase; the contracts would be allowed to bid for the project post which management of the site begins.

Why is Site Planning Crucial?

In the absence of site planning, the customer or builder would be ending up constructing a structure that could possibly face unexpected challenges—both climatic and legal.

Location: The site planner would examine if the site is well connected to the road and essential nearby hubs as the massive constructions are usually business hubs that need proper connectivity. Entry and exit plans would be designed accordingly.

Zoning: It is during the site planning; the engineer would get in touch with the municipal planning department and other authorities to ensure that there are no legal obligations to construct a mega-structure in the mentioned location. The height restrictions, if any, would be ascertained and appropriate tax would be fixed along with parking requirements.

Legal: Is the site location free of legal obligations? Whether any litigation or suits are pending or closed on this site? These are some of the most important questions that can’t be ignored, and only a site planner shoulders this responsibility and prepares a detailed no objection report if required that would be helpful in the future.

Existing Man-Made Features: These could be bus bays, fences, or minor make shift building that could be within or close by the location. The same would be recorded and intimated to the respective municipal departments to mark the territory of the structure. Any violations or intrusions can be detected only during site planning, and appropriate measures can be taken to fix them.

Sensory: All the details pertaining to the odors, smoke, and pollutant areas that are close by should be recorded based on which necessary preventive measures can be taken. In the absence of the same, you might be ending up a structure that’s a major hub of your business but next to a slum, which could be unpleasant and hamper your business.

So, next time, when you intend to construct a project, don’t straight away consult a contractor but get in touch with a site engineer who would make things seamless for you.

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What’s Construction Material Testing & Why is it Crucial?

We often come across the words clinically tested and proven for all the consumer related products. Before we consume anything, it undergoes multiple tiers of testing to ensure the safety of that product such that it wouldn’t cause any damage to our body. However, what about the health of buildings and structures? Don’t you think that the materials used in the construction should be tested to ensure the overall integrity and safety of the building? A highly specialized wing of civil engineering called as construction material testing would shoulder this responsibility. Read on to know about what kind of construction material testing is done in general and more details about the same.

Several regulatory bodies were formed to govern the quality and standard of the raw materials used in the constructions. In the United States of America, ASTS (American Society for Testing and Materials) regulates the quality of materials and all the construction materials used in the construction should predominantly meet the norms laid out by ASTS.

In 2019, Montana State University gym roof collapsed, thankfully there were no casualties. The preliminary investigation revealed that the damage occurred due to the use of raw materials. A similar incident was reported in the Chirajara bridge collapse in 2018 in Columbia although the later report suggested that the damage occurred due to structural and design issues. In 2018, Florida International University Pedestrian Bridge collapse that claimed a few lives and sent shock waves amongst the locals, which was again due to flaws in the construction. To ensure that these incidents don’t happen, a thorough investigation into the materials is mandatory.

A geotechnical engineer would usually perform the following construction material testing to ascertain that the products are best in class and can be used in the construction.

Soil testing: In civil engineering, soil testing revolves around the in-depth analysis of the soil to check if it’s moist or dry based on which the engineer would ascertain if the construction at this site can be carried out or not. In the absence of the same, the foundation can sink or deteriorate, leading to the entire structural collapse. There were many instances where constructions were made in wet soils or near the lakes that resulted in partial inundation of structures during heavy rainfall or even total collapse. The initial investigation reports of the soil must meet the subsurface soil examination in a laboratory.

Rock Testing: It is a known factor that rocks would be used in the construction of the building. Some structures have a rock foundation. However, it’s important that stones used in the construction should meet the standards laid out by ASTS. A civil engineer would perform various tests in the laboratory to understand what kind of rock it is. There are three different types of rocks such as igneous (formed by cooling the molten lava), sedimentary (weak stones such as limestone or sandstone) and metamorphic (sedimentary rocks formed due to heat in the atmosphere). The civil engineer would also check for the electrical resistivity of rock, which is crucial in countering the electric shocks. The slaking and durability of the rock would also be performed to ascertain that the rock isn’t disintegrating when exposed to moistures. The rock should also be durable, which purely depends on the mass of the rock.

Concrete Testing: The construction of any modern structure isn’t possible without the use of concrete. There are multiple concrete tests that a civil engineer would perform in the laboratory to determine that the concrete that’s intended to use is ideal. The first one would be a slump test wherein the concrete should comply with the mix design. The comprehensive concrete test is performed to test the overall strength of the concrete if it’s attaining the heat and losing the temperature naturally, which would provide a clear picture about possibility of cracks. An engineer would also perform a water permeability test to determine the concrete’s durability.

Brick Testing: The bricks used in the construction should be durable and hard. If weak quality bricks are used in construction, the structure will demolish within a couple of years or even months for that matter. To ensure that you don’t purchase substandard bricks from a vendor, a civil engineer would ascertain the sample in a dedicated laboratory and verify if the cube is durable enough to withstand natural calamities.

Cement Testing: Cement plays a crucial role in your construction. It’s one of the materials that’s used in large quantities. To justify that the cement you purchase is good enough to support your structure, a couple of tests are carried out in a laboratory. The size of the cement grain is individually examined through the fineness test, which is further done through the sieve method, sedimentation method, and air permeability tests. Cement should always be fine to be labeled as durable. The next step your engineer would investigate is—consistency test, which is done to check how much water is required to make the cement into a paste. Based on the calculations, the right amount of water would be mixed with the cement at the time of construction that saves time, effort, and even your money. Next comes the setting time as in how much time would be required for the cement to become hard.

Apart from the above standard materials’ testing, your civil engineer would also investigate the quality of geotextile materials, wood, and steel. So, next time, when you plan to construct a building, ensure that a civil engineer thoroughly examines all the materials used in the construction.

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Why Deep Foundation Testing is a Lifeline for Your Structure?

Have you ever wondered as to why Roman constructions are so captivating? While the structures built a few decades ago fade and faint, how is it that buildings constructed centuries ago still stand tall and attract the tourists? If these questions engage you, then Deep Foundation Testing concept is something you ought to know.  The tenacity of structures built by Romans was predominantly because of the timber piles they used as foundations, which helped them construct strong structures within a short time especially while laying bridges during war times. This is a classic example of deep foundation but how did they test the soil –if it’s ideal for laying piles—is a question that remains unexplored though.

Before we understand the deep foundation, it is pertinent to know what shallow foundation is all about. Due to time, lack of expertise and budget constraints, a large number of contracts switch to the shallow foundation for the completion of the building. In a shallow foundation, the foundation (the base of the structure) will not penetrate the subsurface layer, which means that it’s just a slab foundation for one-storey building usually.

On the contrary, Deep Foundation penetrates the subsurface layers of the earth to give extra support for the buildings and other structures to ensure that they are strong enough to withstand the natural calamities. To be precise, a deep foundation is the transfer of structures’ complete load on to pillars that touch the deepest layers possible for extra durability.

If you are planning to have a two-storey building or skyscrapers, your engineer would surely suggest a deep foundation. However, before going with Deep Foundation, it is crucial to test the soil in the proposed construction site to ensure that deep foundation is carried out seamlessly. These tests—to ascertain whether Deep Foundation can be carried or not in the specific area—form the part and parcel of Deep Foundation Testing.

Types of Deep Foundation Testing:

These are some of the standard deep foundation tests that are carried out by any construction enterprise or an engineer if you have opted for Deep Foundation Testing.

RIM-Cell Proof Test

Top Down & Lateral Test

Split Lateral Modulus Test

SoniCalipar

Integrity Test

Thermal Integrity Profiling

Osterberg Cell (O-Cell) Static Load Test

AFT Cell (proprietary service) Test

Let us delve into each one of them.

O-Cell Bi-Directional Static Load Test:

This is the most sought after full-scale load testing as it is noiseless with near zero vibrations making it ideal in busy areas where other kinds of testing might require special permissions. The Osterberg Cell load test would help analyze the overall information about the drilled shafts/ barrettes. According to a survey conducted by the United States Federal Highway Administration (USHFA), at least 65% of engineers in the USA considered O-Cell as the preferable load testing in 1994 while it touched 90% by 2018. During its initial stages, O Cell method was tested on US 231 Highway Bridge Over the Ohio River in Kentucky.  The bearing capacity of the bridge was to be determined and the engineers noticed that the load capacity of this device reached 7mm upward and 34mm downward, thereby giving an accurate and comprehensive picture of the shaft. How are the movements measured in O-cell test? Well, in the United States, electronic gauges are connected to the electronic/ computerized data systems where the results would be reflected and recorded. In an O-Cell test, side shear and end bearing components are separated by default that determines if the construction techniques worked well. Notably, O-cells need to be installed in advanced before the construction begins and cannot be installed on the wooden piles.

RIM-Cell Proof Test:  

Touted to be one of the most sought-after technologies in civil engineering, RIM Cell Proof Test requires an engineer to ascertain the performance of the shaft through loading the required shafts at least 1.2 times to the actual design load. Based on the test results, engineers can reduce the impact of the detected source. Some of the advantages of RIM Cell test include reduction of uncertainty, improved reliability, cost-effective, low grout volume requirement, comprehensive verification of base, easy calculation of the load, to name a few.

Top Down and Lateral Test:

In the top-down test, the engineer would keep on exerting pressure on the pile to test as to how much weight the pile can load. In case the pile is destroyed, in the process, the load level would be calculated and a new pile would be installed. In Lateral Test, the pile would be tested by moving back and forth with extreme pressure to ensure that it can withstand the force from any direction. Often used in the deep excavation projects, the foundation structures used in this kind of test are for permanent use. This testing is used for tall structures with deep basements of two or three levels—essentially parking lots.

Split Lateral and Modulus Test:

Also referred to as full-scale modulus test, this test involves applying loads on to piles in a lateral direction wherein each cell is expanded into the rock or the soil.  Each cell would be tested by applying the same loads but with designated intervals. Since the analysis in Split Lateral Test Module is complex, this is not so often used unless the proposed structure demands it.

SoniCaliper:

SoniCaliper provides a comprehensive picture of the drilled shaft. After the pile is driven down, information or 3D profiling of the pile would be recorded for at least 10 to 12 inch through specially designed sensors that provide the temperature of the piles. In case, there’s an issue with any of the location of the concrete, it would be reflected in the SoniCaliper readings based on which the pile would be removed and the hole would be filled with concrete. SoniCaliper can be tested up to the depth of 300 inches.

Integrity Test:

Popularly known as Pile Integrity Test, the name speaks everything about this kind of testing. It is carried out to ascertain the quality of the pile, its integrity, and length of the existing piles of foundations if any. It is ideally carried out in the areas where the proposed construction is carried out in an area where other structures existed before. After the demolition of the previous structures, the length of the existing piles should be ascertained and pulled out before carrying out other deep foundation tests.

Thermal Integrity Profile:

First developed at the University of South Florida, it’s a permanent and non-destructive/ positive test method that is mandatorily used along with along deep foundation testing. During Thermal Integrity Profiling, engineers would record the heat that’s generated by the concrete and the time taken for effective cooling to ensure that the concrete has set in, and it’s ideal to carry out the construction. This test is often followed by Sonic testing and integrity testing. An engineer would understand the issue with the concrete when an average temperature of some depth significantly varies from the average temperature at the other depth. In case of a potential problem, reinforcing cage would be aligned properly.

Conclusion: Based on the above tests and your soil type, your engineer might adopt one or more of these tests to ensure that your structure or skyscraper are built to withstand natural calamities. Apart from them, AFT has developed its own proprietary testing called AFT testing by leveraging the trending technology coupled with the strong expertise of professional engineers working with profound experience in civil engineering.

 

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Things to Keep in Mind Before You Think of Deep Excavation

While technology significantly transformed our lives, we tend to forget the civil engineering paved the way for advancement much before the evolution of technology. We even forget to thank the giant role civil engineering played in helping every necessity turn to reality. Right from bridges to pavements to irrigation projects, we owe to the civil engineering for whatever we enjoy today.

As the civil engineering field advanced, a new design cropped up to support the existing demands from the public at large throwing major challenges at geo-technical engineers. Be it the extra basements to support the multi-level parking or to create an underground road passage, the need for deep excavation popped-up.

Why do we call it a challenge?

The reason is simple—when a geo-technical engineer performs deep excavation, the foundation drilling machine encounters with different layers of soil—including and not limited to rock. At times, dynamites might be used to break the rocks. The vibrations and impact caused due to the same can show a negative impact on not just that structure but even the surrounding structures.

A 13-storied huge building collapsed in Shanghai during a deep excavation process in 2009 and went into history as one of the worst building collapses. The studies ascertained that the building wasn’t constructed properly and that there was no study nor analysis done before going ahead with deep excavation. There were many such incidents that were reported even in the United States. Since then extra care has been taken and authorities have clearly laid out the norms for deep excavation. Every civil engineering company that undertakes a deep foundation must necessarily have a registered Professional Engineer (P.E) who would roll out the blueprint of the entire project and process post which the following things need to be adhered to:

  1. Site Characteristics: A geo-technical engineer is required to examine the site and understand the soil properties. A thorough lab examination of the soil needs to be conducted besides understanding the length of the pile and its type. Needless to mention, the age of the structure also matters. Deep excavation of a dam or a heavy structure that’s 10+ years is risky.
  2. Dimensions: The excavation should be done through a proper plan without causing any damage to the structure or its foundation. It is pertinent that the site engineer has the blue print of the original structure plan to assess and plan the dimensions for deep excavation.
  3. Surveying Adjacent Soils: In case deep excavation is carried out in sandy soils, the structure is prone to damage. Same is the case with silty soils although certain measures can be taken regarding the later. Clay soil is ideal for deep excavations and hence it is the duty of an engineer to survey the adjacent soils and prepare a report based on which further action should be taken.
  4. Surveying Adjacent Structures: If a deep excavation is to be carried out near a dam, an engineer must ensure that there are no heavy structures within a radius of 500 meters failing which it would impact the foundation of the adjacent buildings. A no objection certificate from the adjacent structure owners or from the authority should be obtained if required.

Excavation support design is a sensitive job and should be carried out only be a P.E who has expertise in geotechnical and structural engineering. Further, deep excavations should be supported by:

  1. Conventional retaining walls
  2. Sheet pile walls
  3. Braced walls
  4. Diaphragm walls

 

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6 Things You Must Know About Design Build

Have you ever heard of something called a design-build when you searched for civil engineers nearby? Wonder what it’s all about and how it’s related to civil engineering? If these are the questions, we have the answers to the same in this article as we discuss the design-build in-depth and why it’s gaining significance over the past few years. Designed to reduce the delivery schedule by overlapping the architecture and construction. This is predominantly intended to cut the costs by appointing a single person who would be responsible for architecture as well as the development of the project. Let us delve into the benefits of design-build.

Merits:

Cost Effective: The first thing that takes the top slot is the cost-effectiveness for which design-build came to place. Several work heads are eliminated one professional is responsible for the end-to-end delivery of the project with a deadline acceptable by the customer and professional.

Transparency: The owner of the project would always be in touch with the team who are also professionals working on this project. Instead of an architect reporting to someone or a complicated hierarchy system, the entire team would continuously keep in touch with the owner of the project, as the owner is always in the loop while executing each step of the project.

Saves Time: The design engineering team would don multiple hats given the strong expertise he would have in architecture and the construction/ structural engineering. This will avoid the possible communication gaps or delayed responses as the single person would take care of both specialties.

Total Accountability: The entire team takes the accountability of the project, thereby eliminating unnecessary complexities. As the single professional is aware of the liability, the work would be executed with due diligence, thereby resulting in higher customer satisfaction and increased credibility for the enterprise.

Agility: There would be no business boundaries in design-build method, as in the time and geographical constraints would not crop up between the professional and the owner thereby ensuring greater success of the project within the prescribed timeline and budget.

Teamwork: There would be no single person taking the credit for design-build process. All the team members would be working for the same goal. This methodology even breaks the silos and provides a highly customized project to the customer.

The first known record of design build procedure dated to 1990 when the Federal Highway Administration of the United States adopted this model for its Special Experimental Project Number 14 to construct highway projects that don’t compromise with the contractor’s benefits or the project quality. After the success of this pilot project, the United States had spent a whopping $14Mn between 1995-2002 towards constructing several mammoth projects in the country based on the design-build model.  Since then, design-build has been widely embraced by many vendors and contractors to eliminate the complexities and to achieve high customer satisfaction within tight budgets. So, next time, when you intend to construct a project, vouch out for enterprises that offer a design-build model that undoubtedly offers greater agility over the traditional approaches.

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Significance of Geo-spatial Analytics in Civil Engineering

Over the years, technology took the giant leaps that resulted in unlocking a plethora of opportunities for individuals as well as enterprises. Most of the things that are common today were meant for restrictive use and purely intended for the department use. Be it the Internet or GPS and Geospatial Analytics for that matter. In fact, the US Department of Defense started GPS for their internal purpose in 1973.

What is GIS?

It is the systematic study of the geographical location of the earth to analyze the territory, resources and spatial location.  The early history of GIS dates to 1963 when a Canadian geologist named Roger Tomlinson expressed his interest in creating the CANADA GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM. The then Government of Canada, after observing his studies, has officially permitted him to develop such technology. And that has paved way to what we called computerized GIS. The Canadian Government was successful in maintaining a ‘manageable inventory of its natural resources.’ This path-breaking technology had fast spread across the globe with many other nations adopting GIS. Today, almost every field such as health, insurance, retail, real estate, government, water, transportation, electric and gas utilities, and public safety department leverage GIS. Needless to mention, civil engineering is a pioneer in making the optimum use of this technology that never becomes outdated.

The modern GIS, the technology that civil engineering and other fields today leverage deal with the collection of the crucial information and sharing the knowledge across multiple industries through seamless collaboration.

How Does GIS Work?

Geographical Information System Works predominantly in 3 phases

  1. Maps: Accessible by anyone across the globe in real-time, maps are the first reference materials to identify any natural resources in the specified location. A never-ending list of maps can be retrieved from the repository and downloaded seamlessly. Maps are helpful in conveying the information— that’s accurate in terms of territory and atmosphere—to the enterprise or individuals who would like to analyze the area. So, this happens to be the first step of geospatial analysis.
  2. Data: Maps are generation and what’ next? Well, now that you have identified a location and its climate and soil type, the interim step is to find out the data of that location. This data essentially includes geographical components, the features of the soil, the changes in the soil type in the specified area—everything recorded on to a spreadsheet for swift retrieval ay any given point of time.
  3. Analysis: This is the third and most important step in GIS as the entire basic information through maps and in-depth information collected through data sheets need to be analyzed. Spatial analysis is a highly sought-after branch that can be analyzed only by experts in the industry. The geospatial analysis deals with the capability and sustainability of the soil types and predicts the future of that location. For instance, if a heavy bridge is intended to be constructed at a location, only a civil engineer who’s specialized in geospatial analytics would skim through the analytics data and ascertains if the intended structure would be built as per the initial design plan. In case the certain area of the proposed site location falls under the terrain, then the engineer would make changes to the design.

Merits of Geo-spatial Analysis in Civil Engineering

  • Landfill Site Assortment
  • Town planning
  • 360-degree analysis of the site
  • Computerized documents of the site location
  • Management of the spatial data
  • Transportation planning
  • Analysis of the environment
  • CAD interoperability
  • Construction management
  • Accuracy
  • Optimum utilization of the space
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6 Qualities to Look for in a Civil Engineering Enterprise

Are you planning to construct a bridge or heavy structure? Confused as to which contractor or civil engineering firm to approach? If these are your questions, then we help you find the right answers. Read on as we unveil the top 6 qualities of an ideal civil infrastructure firm.
  1. Experience: Needless to mention that experience plays a crucial role in any field. And in civil engineering, the more the experience, the better the ability to complete the project seamlessly. Several studies have suggested that before taking up major projects like bridge construction etc., the contractor or firm should have had at least 10+ years of proven experience. Several studies mentioned the maximum number of structural failures were because of a lack of end-to-end experience in civil engineering with special attention to design and different types of load testing.
  2. Workforce: The leadership team and workforce are the ones who would be involved in the end-to-end operations. Every vendor or county or association must ensure that the civil engineering enterprise must have at least a couple of registered professional engineers (P.E s). Only a P.E would have thorough knowledge about the structure and can analyze the other elements such as soil type etc. to ensure the health of the structure.
  3. Leverage Technology: Experience, when bundled with technology, can give us astounding results. We are now in a rapid era where we can assess and monitor the health of the structure by leveraging IoT and other disruptive technologies. So, make sure that the company that you approach can make use of the technology. Apart from this, cloud-based technology helps in achieving better transparency as the risk of damage to the documents can be eliminated besides helping everyone in the project stay on the same page. According to a study by McKinsey, civil engineering companies shelled out an approximate $1.7Bn in embracing ERP alone while $1.4Bn was spent for leveraging equipment management software. However, do you know that only 8% of civil engineering companies embraced digital transformation? So, check if your vendor is within that 8%. If yes, then transparency is surely on cards.
  4. Credentials: Now comes the crucial part—the credentials. Do you know that every state has a set of its regulatory compliances that enterprises need to adhere to? Now that civil engineering enterprises also leverage technology, there are two things that a firm needs to keep a tab on—the regulatory compliances pertaining to structures/environments as listed out by the U.S Corps of Engineers (USCAE), and data regulatory compliances such as PII (personally identifiable information). In case, your prospective vendor doesn’t have any of these compliances, it’s safe to let it go.
  5. A Good Website: Technically, it shouldn’t matter whether your vendor has a website. However, here are the reasons as to why a website is crucial. (i) You can check the website if it has the information as informed by the vendor. This essentially contains information pertaining to not just services but certification and regulatory compliances. (ii) You can check if the website contains the registered address. A good enterprise would surely mention the address.
  6. Agility: Good enterprises or vendors are adaptive, they go an extra mile to see the clients happy and it happens only when the workforce is ready to finetune the work as per the client’s requirements and within the deadlines.
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