Better Engineering Empowered by the Cloud

Servant, Dunbrack, McKenzie & MacDonald Limited (SDMM) provides innovative, sustainable design through surveying and engineering consultations. Traditional surveying methods take three to five days just to capture the topography of a site, and often require working with out-of-date photos and limited 2-D maps.

These traditional methods have become too expensive and time consuming for both consultants and their clients to maintain, spurring innovation across the industry. There have been rapid advancements in many surveying and engineering tech tools in just a few years, and SDMM has become a leader in the industry by making ongoing investments in technology to innovate its service offering.

“These are heavy data sets, and the workstations we use for data and content creation need to be powerful,” explains Chris Foran, vice president of innovation at SDMM. The company needed a whole suite of powerful, collaborative hardware, both in the field and in the office, that could handle extremely high-resolution photos and 3-D maps flawlessly.

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The right tools for the job

SDMM upgraded their technology and now controls their unmanned aerial vehicle with a tablet powered by an Intel Atom processor. The raw data is processed either on site by SDMM or by Autodesk on its cloud service hosted by Intel cloud partner Amazon Cloud Services. The team is now armed with Pix4D desktop software running on a high-end workstation equipped with Intel Xeon processor E5 technology and mobile solutions featuring the Intel Core i7 processor family. With this new approach, Foran estimates it takes 30 percent less time than traditional surveying, but provides millions more data points. It would take a person a lifetime to collect the same information collected by a laser scanner in just two hours.

“These are disruptive technologies. They have a ‘wow factor’ and deliver things customers didn’t know were possible,” adds David Males, director of sales and marketing. Once customers see how the technology can be applied, they realize it can not only save them money, but also allows them to make faster decisions.

“Our whole experience has been with Intel-based platforms, which tells us the hardware works and is solid,” says Males.

Better, safer in every way

Because much of the work in the field is done on uneven and dangerous ground, SDMM’s upgrade is about more than wowing customers — it’s about keeping employees safe. Using laser scanning technology, SDMM can now scan 360 degrees, while mapping millions of points of data and creating an image of those data points called a point cloud.

“This technology allows us to do things we never could have dreamed of doing before,” says Foran. “We get a high level of complete data safer because we don’t have to access the dangerous areas of the site. As long as we can see it, we can get the information we need.”

Now that they’ve made the upgrade, SDMM’s customers are thrilled with the results and realize they’ll never again have to put up with outdated or incomplete data. SDMM can now confidently give their customers immersive 3-D representations of the land.

Learn more about SDMM’s new technology and how the right hardware upgrades could boost your small business. Have you upgraded recently? Comment below, and tell us what’s helped your small business compete! And join us on Twitter!