Archive for May, 2011

A look at modern highway engineering technology

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Most people look at highway construction or maintenance as an inconvenience that simply delays how long it takes them to get from one place to another.  But have you ever stopped to think about the technology that goes into designing and creating a roadway?

Just like with computers and IPhones, advances have been made in road and engineering equipment over the past few decades. These advances often bring costs down and have had a tremendous impact on highway engineering.

Significant improvements in time tested processes

For example, paving machines spend a lot less time paving the same amount of roadway because laser technology has helped improve the process of road paving by providing more accurate measuring and guidance. Road surveyors can now use a laser beam to plot a perfectly straight line, which enhances the ability to set grade, height and depth of a planned route.

Step 1 – Laser measurements

Lasers also help machine operators guide their equipment, following a beam for accurate course settings. In fact, automatic laser measuring is now used in a variety of construction equipment and thus highway engineering.

Step 2 – Portal asphalt plants

You can find another example in compact asphalt batch plants, which can now be dismantled and moved along with the construction of a roadway. In the past, asphalt literally had to be trucked into sites one dump truck load at a time.

With these small, movable asphalt plants, a silo holds gravel which is added to a mixer oven with molten tar when the load is needed for the highway. The load is sufficiently heated, mixed, and dumped into a waiting truck. Savings are considerable, requiring fewer trucks and drivers for a job and lower materials costs.

Step 3 – Transportation

The transport truck then delivers the asphalt load to a large, paving machine. The asphalt paver replaces the old, hand delivered way of asphalt paving, which was one shovel full at a time. And now, the entire process is automated.

Step 4 – Paving

The paving machine does everything. It distributes, shapes, forms, and evenly compresses the product as it moves down its required path. Today, modern versions of these large paving machines are self-propelled, operated by a driver who sits in an air conditioned cab. In the past, these machines were towed by a large truck, capable of moving these heavy machines that are made of high grade steel.

Step 5 – Compacting

After the fresh load is laid down, it requires even more compacting. This is accomplished with a different number and sizes of compacting machines. These machines range from small units that work on driveways or drainage gates to very large machines for wide open roadways.

Highway construction and engineering technology will continue to improve as the country’s highway infrastructure is replaced.  And with all the recent improvements in the last few decades, just think what future highway construction projects will look like!

A look at the process of creating retail space

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Whether you are an avid shopper or just traveling around town, examples of retail engineering projects are everywhere you look!  Retail engineers help construct retail outlets, shopping centers, and other commercial space dedicated to the retail customer.

Retail engineering projects can range from a single, standalone store to an entire shopping center or even mixed developments that include both housing and retail.

How retail space is created

Retail engineering relies on a unique combination of engineering skills and competencies to successfully put a project together. Those include all of those used in a commercial project but more tightly focused on the retail environment.

Most projects begin with a detailed planning review which takes all of the clients’ considerations into account. Planning addresses the client’s goals, objectives and restrictions and coordinates those with land restrictions, zoning considerations and items like required parking. A detailed engineering plan is then developed.

After the engineering plan is developed, the next step usually involves surveying which is a necessary step for establishing boundaries, heights, grades and other important measurement information.

Other considerations

Depending on the type of projects there may be many different types of factors to consider.  For instance, on larger projects road design may be important as sometimes roads must be adjusted to accommodate traffic flow and to insure proper access and egress from the retail facility.  Changes in roadways almost always have to be approved and coordinated with local authorities.

In all cases attention must be paid to governmental requirements including zoning, permitting, and traffic concerns. In heavy traffic areas like Washington, DC or Northern Virginia, attending to all required paperwork, zoning, permitting and regulations can be difficult and demanding for retail facilities.

Firms like the Engineering Groupe have the experience and expertise to complete difficult retail engineering projects even around demanding area like Washington and urbanized Virginia. Hiring an experienced firm with the skill sets needed is the only sound option for retail engineering.

Modern Surveying Equipment

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Surveyors today cannot work effectively without modern surveying equipment. It is a necessity. There are several types of new equipment that have entered the profession in the past few years. Some are new items and some are upgraded. Surveyors and companies performing surveying services now use this new, modern, accurate and effective equipment.

The evolution of today’s equipment

Throughout history, surveying equipment has been continuously invented, reinvented and improved. It has generally kept up with technological advancement in society. Suppliers of such equipment understand that they need to design and provide top quality instruments to be competitive. Thus, there is no dearth of modern and useful equipment on the market. We can expect that surveying equipment will continue to stay pace with advances in technology.

Modern tools

Modern equipment includes EDMs, digital theodites, digital levels, GPS, data collectors, and total station equipment. Total stations measure the length and the angle between two points, an obvious important surveying function. It is mounted on a tripod. It then transmits an infrared signal to a prism. The signal is reflected back to the total station. The time required for the signal to get to the prism and back determines the distance from one point to the other. This provides all of the data necessary to calculate that distance.


We’re all familiar now with GPS. It is everywhere. It’s used in cell phones, personal trip mapping in a vehicle, vehicle location services, etc. It is also one of the most advanced and useful technologies for surveyors. Using satellite guidance, it allows surveying companies to find points on land. These are non-moving points. The surveyor’s device uses cable, a receiver and antenna. The antenna is placed on a land point. It searches for a GPS satellite. The receiver then accurately records data on the data collector from the GPS satellites.

Future advances

Worldwide, surveyors benefit daily from the use of modern equipment available today, and that equipment is likely to only improve and get better with time. This equipment provides very accurate data from the surveying service that you select. The job is easier and obviously much more accurate today than ever before. You won’t have any problems finding a company up to date on their use of new and modern surveying methods.



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