Taking data to new heights: Stantec Tower’s crane camera project

September 5, 2019

The world’s longest crane camera project to date working on the tallest Canadian building outside Toronto—but it’s only a stepping stone to what’s next for the industry

 

It was the world’s longest running crane camera project to date. Every day, a small camera attached to the tallest crane western Canada has ever seen snapped a series of high resolution images of the construction progress at the Stantec Tower in Edmonton, Alberta, and sent it to a secure cloud portal. These images were used to stitch together 2D images and 3D models of the site that helped the owner and project team track progress and identify issues such as construction delays. 

Unmissable from any viewpoint, the crane that helped to build Stantec Tower was a downtown landmark representing progress, investment, and prosperity. Over the same time period the crane was working, between June 2017 and September 2018, the Stantec Tower Crane Camera Project captured construction progress of the tallest Canadian building outside of Toronto via over 30,000 photos. But it’s the potential future uses of crane camera data that most excite the project team. “The sky is the limit for providing new data to our clients and partners—from something as simple as images,” says Stantec principal Kevin Grover (Edmonton, Alberta), who works toward the adoption and growth of mobile technology on our projects.

 

No matter the season, our Crane Camera Project captured 72 images per day.

 

The future wave of construction technology

“This project is a stepping stone to what could be huge in terms of what we could use a crane camera for in the next five years,” says Steve Weinbeer (Edmonton, Alberta), a colleague of Kevin’s who helped design Stantec Tower.

Steve, a structural engineer, used images from Stantec Tower’s crane camera to schedule his visits to site according to construction milestones. Typically, such visits are scheduled through a time-consuming back-and-forth between the consultant and the contractor to determine the best date and time to visit the site. Steve sees other potential uses of captured image data, including 

  • Community engagement through image sharing
  • Safety and security via image monitoring
  • Asset management from detailed image mapping
  • Historical recordkeeping thanks to a collection of images 
  • Higher education by using images in engineering lessons

“In time, we’ll be able to do engineering off the crane camera,” Steve says. “We could do measurements and create scans and 3D models then take that data and get technical information to make decisions. For example, in a fast-track construction scenario where we are revising design during the construction process based on actual site conditions, the crane data would be invaluable. We’re not quite there yet, but the future is coming and we’re going to be there to meet it.”

 

From when the camera was turned on during construction of the 20th story, through the last day of operation 66 floors in the sky, the crane camera captured more than 30,000 valuable images.

 

“Data is the new oil”

The Stantec Tower Crane Camera project was supported by Stantec’s Greenlight Program (which is part of our overall Creativity & Innovation Program). Greenlight provides funding and other assistance for our people’s great ideas. For Kevin, the support went further than financial backing.

“A lot of the value for me has been connecting with colleagues around the globe in different roles with different working styles and coming together in a collaborative, like-minded environment on something innovative,” Kevin says.

Why does this collaboration matter? It comes back to the data

“Not to sound cliché, but data is the new oil,” he says. “We’re using the data provided by these crane camera images to make better decisions such as tracking construction progress, deficiencies, and as-builts more quickly for our clients, partners, and for our Stantec design teams. We have only begun to determine the possibilities for this simple and inexpensive technology.”

 

Kevin Grover and Steve Weinbeer have both led Greenlight projects at Stantec.

 

The Pix4D camera that was mounted on the gigantic crane survived Edmonton’s extreme climate for more than two years. How extreme? Think 60-degree fluctuations in temperatures between seasons, from +30 C in summer to -30 C in winter—Edmonton’s longest winter since records began. It also kept shooting photos through the city’s coldest February in 40 years

Kevin says he’s impressed by the crane camera’s durability. So is Pix4D.

"Our customers gain great benefit from the automatic, daily data collection provided by our camera solution. But to have this beneficial result we need a reliable foundation,” says Julian Norton, business development manager of Pix4D. “This Stantec project has proved that our hardware can continue operating in the most demanding environments and weather conditions.”

While the Stantec Tower Crane Camera project has come to an end, the use of crane cameras at Stantec certainly hasn’t. Kevin is in talks to get crane cameras working on projects in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Our industry is moving forward and it’s not slowing down,” he says. “This project was just a start; we’re moving forward to meet that future wave when it arrives.”

Edmonton’s ICE District, where the Stantec Tower is located, is a mixed-use downtown community developed through a partnership between Katz Group and ONE Properties. The Katz Group and Stantec have a strong partnership and a shared vision for Edmonton, which has come to life through a mutual commitment to innovation.  


About Kevin Grover
Kevin Grover is our UAS Operations Manager, growing the use and integration of UAS into design workflows. Kevin  is a Geospatial Technology Leader under the Practice Technology group that is working towards the advancing the use of spatial technology on our projects. This includes finding ways to leverage smartphones as efficient data collection tools and using reality capture devices like laser scanning and photogrammetry with drones and cameras. 


About Steve Weinbeer
Working with our team in Edmonton, Steve Weinbeer has a wide variety of experience as a structural engineer. He’s worked on a variety of projects, gaining knowledge of numerous different structural systems—these projects include the Stantec Tower (the tallest Canadian building west of Toronto), Edmonton Tower, and the Calgary Cancer Center.


About this article
This article is part of an ongoing series focusing on the value Stantec’s Greenlight program brings to clients, communities, and employees. Through Greenlight, Stantec invests annually to fund employee ideas that benefit our clients, community, and Company. Greenlight is part of our Creativity & Innovation Program, which celebrates and encourages creativity and innovation at work and in our work. Check back soon for another story in our Greenlight series.


Project Acknowledgements:
The Stantec Tower Crane Camera project team would like to express their gratitude for the support of the following organizations:

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