• Safer Highways

Balfour Beatty VINCI and Esri UK save £20k a year digitising HS2 construction workflows



BBV has adopted software from Esri UK, rolling out its Site Scan for ArcGIS drone flight management and image processing software, to support its drone deployment strategy across 90km of the Midlands, digitising HS2 construction workflows


BBV has rolled out new drone software, digitising HS2 construction workflows across their 90km section of the Midlands. The project spans from Long Itchington Wood tunnel in the south to the West Coast Main Line tie-in near Lichfield in the north, with a major junction into Curzon Street Station in central Birmingham.

The main works civil engineering contracts will deliver earthworks, ground engineering and many structures including bridges, viaducts and tunnels.


Drone surveys are faster and more efficient than traditional surveying


BBV has reported savings of around £20k a year on monthly construction progress surveys on a single site, instead of using physical surveys and the subsequent updating of CAD models.


BBV estimates this could save around £1.6m if the same workflow was applied across 80 sites in the first year.


Another benefit in BBV’s digitising HS2 construction workflow has been the removal of 800 ‘working at risk’ days and a cost saving of £30,000 per year from monitoring aggregate stockpiles, using a single drone operator to carry out 3D volumetric measurements in 20 minutes. Previously, contractors would take a full day to physically measure stockpiles and calculate transport requirements, often working in steep and difficult environments.


The new software was rolled out to almost 400 users in 2021, including 13 drone pilots

Site Scan for ArcGIS is being used to carry out drone site surveys, manage aggregate stockpiles and monitor progress of construction. Various 2D and 3D outputs are being generated for sharing with multiple stakeholders, including high-definition imagery and 3D terrain models.

“We needed the right software to manage an increasingly complex and varied use of drones and meet the needs of multiple teams, from logistics to site managers to engineers,” explained Dan Fawcett, innovation director at Balfour Beatty VINCI.


“New digitised workflows are rapidly replacing traditional, physical working practices and introducing new levels of efficiency, accuracy and safety. On major projects such as HS2, the ROI achieved is significant.”


Other applications of the new software include:

helping to show compliance with design tolerances in built structures against BIM and CAD models speeding-up design cycles, particularly in earthworks and excavations design and monitoring the installation of utilities

Site Scan supports RTK drones to ensure highly accurate data capture and point cloud creation.


Super-user training for Site Scan is being provided by Esri UK partner Heliguy, the drone consultancy, hardware and training specialists.

Site Scan for ArcGIS is Esri’s cloud-based drone flight management and image processing software, offering flight planning, hardware management, scalable image processing and unlimited data storage, plus seamless integration with BBV’s Esri enterprise GIS system.

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