Rise Hall - As has often been the case over the last 25 years, much of our best work has been completed behind the scenes or hidden beneath a particular clients banner. However, in the second series of Sarah Beeny's "Beeny's Restoration Nightmare", Survey Operations personnel may actually be seen working on the continuation of this impressive scheme.

Having previously been involved with a number of projects featured on Channel 4's "Grand Designs" and assisted with site investigations covered on "Time Team" programmes, this may only be the second occasion to date where our surveyors have been filmed for national television in their natural habitat.

If you would like to know more about this series, details can be found on Channel 4's website http://www.channel4.com/programmes/beenys-restoration-nightmare or you can learn more about the restoration at http://www.risehall.com/ .


Reservoirs - the proposed amendments to the Reservoirs Act 1975 may not be the most exciting bedtime reading available, but many owners and operators of currently exempt reservoirs will literally be on the edge of their seats, awaiting the outcome. Currently, dammed or bunded reservoirs of less than 25,000 cubic metres capacity are exempt from the expensive provisions of this Act but if proposals to reduce this figure to 10,000 cubic metres become law, many more people will be required to engage the services of a registered 'Panel Engineer. 

Accordingly, Survey Operations are expecting a veritable flood of enquiries to accurately survey and quantify reservoir volumes which appear close to the expected 10,000 cubic metre limit. Hopefully, our highly experienced team of surveyors and CAD personnel will be able to cope with the anticipated increase in workload, but as we have the largest dedicated inland hydrographic team in the UK, we don't anticipate a problem.


Synergy 1 - Coastal Monitoring - being one of UKs leading coastal surveying companies and a major user of both 3D laser scanning and high precision GPS, it seemed a logical development to combine the methodologies and instrumentation of all three into a single unified approach. Primarily developed to accurately monitor and quantify changes in coastal hinterlands, this approach is ideally suited to detailing both dune and cliff terrain. Given the increasing use of airborne lidar to map our coastal regions, terrestrial lidar methods such as this are most effective and significantly more economical where the area of interest is several kilometres or less in length, a higher level of detail is needed or vertical faces are required to be surveyed. In an extreme survey scenario we could, for example, complete a high intensity survey of over a kilometre of cliff face, from beach level, within a single intertidal window. Due to the mobility of this approach, our surveyors can also quickly respond to record the impact of a particular storm or other natural event.


Synergy 2 - Highway Surveying - based on our experiences of combining survey methods to suit a particular client need, we have most recently turned our attentions to the problem of remotely surveying sections of highway to the highest possible accuracy. Whilst a number of high speed, dynamically positioned approaches have been developed, the limiting factor upon the survey datas' usefulness has been that of level accuracy and although significant lengths of highway can be recorded in very short periods of time, level accuracies are limited to typically 2 to 3cm when compared to traditional survey methods.

Currently, our approach is achieving typically 4mm repeatability, which is similar to traditional survey methods, but due to the intense coverage of the scanned carriageway, smaller localised level problems are more easily identified, can be accurately quantified, and monitored to isolate developing problems.


There are approximately 28,000 churches in England alone, of which 14,000 are listed buildings. In fact, 45% of all Grade 1 listed buildings are churches so it is not surprising that a large proportion of our building survey workload relates to either current or former, places of worship. Increasingly, we are using high density 3D laser scanning to fully detail these intricate, historic structures and increasingly, our clients are appreciating the advantages of our fully modelled approach. As a logical progression from churches and chapels, Survey Operations are currently surveying Liverpools' Anglican Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Britain.


Slipforming poses a number of problems for engineering surveyors and despite close tolerance control systems, vertical displacements and axis rotations will always occur. In recent years, Survey Operations have been developing systems to both minimise construction errors and to quantify post-construction problems which would have a direct impact on subsequent operations. Frequently, we are called in at two or more stages per slipform to not only identify any overall service core problems, but to also assess tolerances on exposed openings and cast-in elements. This approach gives the earliest possible indication of complications and therefore minimises any programme delays which may arise. On completion of a core, we will also complete an internal survey of each lift shaft to ensure tolerance compliance. Using an approach we developed with one of the worlds largest lift manufacturers, we can define the maximum design operating rectangle for each shaft and provide internal setting-out information to assist installation. Reassuringly, having worked on some of Britain's tallest buildings, Survey Operations name is 'muzak' to our clients ears.


During the current recession, most of the major survey companies have had to downsize to reflect their reduced workload but thanks to a broad and diverse client base, Survey Operations have retained full working capacity. Whilst this is not an issue for most clients, we have recently won a number of major topographical surveys due to this retained capacity and its direct impact upon project timescale.

One such project covers some 340Ha of farmland, woodland moor and heathland and requires a variety of survey methods to fully detail the area. Whilst gps is the preferred method for main control and open soft terrain, traditional survey methods are used to record hard features, structures and in dense woodland. The photograph on the left shows one of our gps quads which we first developed for beach erosion monitoring but are now used to quickly 'grid level' any large inland or intertidal survey area.


Surveying within culverts and deep tunnels is becoming something of a lost art and accordingly, our specialist confined spaces teams have never been busier. Our contracts within the water industry predominantly involve the precise traversing, detailing and alignment of deep sewers and culverts.

Typically working in tunnels of 1.2m diameter and above, these surveys require specialist surveyors applying tried and tested methods in an often hostile environment. Commonly undertaken to enable the design of an above ground piling layout, we recently positioned the entire Moorfields underground railway station complex in Liverpool relative to our surface topographical survey, to enable the piling design for the proposed Magistrates Court above. We have also introduced 3D Laser Scanning methods to a number of confined spaces environments to allow design visualisations and maintenance planning without further man-entry.


Hovercraft - Survey Operations are probably the only survey company in the UK to own commercial hovercraft, and they are certainly the only one to operate this unique design specially built by the company who make hovercraft for James Bond (the movies). This machine is used to access difficult coastal and estuary locations and is currently operational surveying large areas of beach and sandbank in connection with our coastal erosion monitoring contracts. As the most experienced coastal surveyors in the UK, our people need the best transport.


Ground penetrating radar, or GPR, has been in use by utilities tracing surveyors for some years now but is still relatively misunderstood by many potential clients. Primarily, GPR is used to locate non-metallic or non-conductive services such as modern water and gas pipes, but it has a multitude of other uses including the location of underground voids, cellars, abandoned storage tanks and even buried walls and foundations. In addition to their traditional utilities workload, in recent years, our surveyors have located numerous ancient foundations and historic dock walls around the UK including sections of Liverpool's first dock and the remains of the worlds first steam powered mill in Manchester; both subsequently featured on Channel Fours' Time Team.

  The Survey Association