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Innovative surveying technology for built asset management

Innovative surveying technology for built asset management

 

It seems that you can’t move these days without hearing about drones, apps and thermal imaging, but are they truly helpful or just gimmicks? We managed to get almost all the way to 2016 without them.

Like every new industry that erupts from an emerging technology, there are people who take it seriously and do it professionally and those who charge in to make a quick buck. And like every other example in history, the cream rises to the top, the market consolidates and the cowboys are eventually driven out by the sheriff who is usually better known as legislation.

Innovative technology: Thermal imaging

Thermal imaging, or infrared thermography, has - and still is - going through this process. Companies like iRed, Thermascan, Ti and IRT surveys have been around now for more than a dozen years each. There is a healthy respect and competitive market out there. But there are a myriad of smaller companies buying low end equipment, not training themselves properly and going to market with nothing more than a nice looking website. This is why asking the right questions when making your research on infrared companies is important.

Innovative surveying technology: Drones

The same can be said of the drone industry, only it’s 20 years behind the infrared world. It is experiencing a lot of negative press also with an emerging industry to shoot them out of the sky – yep – anti drone tech is also out there. It is a little known fact that over 80% of drone pilots don’t renew their license after year one. It either means the vast majority of the market are novices, or that the failure rate is enormous.

Innovative surveying technology: IoT

The IoT industry is the next big thing for the built environment for sure. If you haven’t come across the anachronism before, it stands for the Internet of Things. Everything from your toothbrush to your fridge will be connected to the net. Lightbulbs will tell you when they become inefficient. HVAC systems will call the engineer themselves and tell him what parts they need, before they brake. Fuses will alert the electrician, or some form of R2D2 unit to repair them before they blow.

When the building itself senses that something isn’t quite right, drones will be deployed to survey a building at night, equipped with an infrared thermal imaging system. Smart meter and sensor technology is moving at an alarming pace. Or exciting pace depending upon your perspective. I love the idea that a sensor will send me a message with GPS co-ordinates to a defectuous building that we can survey and report on.

Innovative surveying technology: Caution required

Huge caution though. Just because things get all high tech and whizz bang, doesn’t make the operative an expert. Interpreting the cause for failure and understanding what the tech is telling you still requires a skilled person. No software will ever replace an experienced RICS qualified surveyor with 20 years under their belt. A sensor or thermal image may say your insulation is 20% saturated on your flat roof - a common defect – the image may point clearly to the origin of the leak but only a human can see that the roofer lapped the felt the wrong way, or didn’t seal the lap joints correctly.

Technological innovation for surveying is unstoppable.

The technology is coming, some of it is here already. It's unstoppable. Best embrace it, swimming upstream is exhausting. But fear not: the dystopian Star Trek world, where no-one has a job and everything is leisure time, is a long way off. De-skilling mundane tasks and de-bugging our built environment will free us up to focus on bigger challenges!

Would you like to know more about how thermal imaging and drones can ease the management of your asset portfolio? Click on the button below to contact us to discuss your surveying requirements and for your free and no-obligation quote.

Managing your expectations for a stress-free IRT survey report

Managing your expectations for a stress-free IRT survey report

 

 

Commissioning an infrared thermographic (IRT) survey is easy. We tell you here what you can expect during the survey process so that you have a stress-free IRT survey.

Reasons for commissioning an IRT survey

We have already pointed to a few strategic reasons why you would commission an infrared survey. We have been providing infrared services to the construction professional sector in the UK for 14 years and the reasons are wide and varied but can be distilled down into 3 main headings.

  • You have a problem and nothing else seems to be helping resolve it.
  • You are not sure if you have a problem and want an expert opinion.
  • You definitely have building issues and no-one can agree who is to blame.

More often than not you are seeking a reactive survey to a problem which manifests itself in a new building or refurbishment project. IRT surveys is often called upon as a “silver bullet” solution.

Managing your expectations

Managing your  expectations as a client is part of what’s involved in the process. Most of our clients have little technological knowledge of IRT. They rightly rely on us to know what we are doing and wrongly  do sometimes ask impossible things. No, we cannot find a leak on a roof from a satellite in space. You need a thermal imaging camera mounted on a drone and a thermographer for that.

The technology has its limitations. But you will be blown away by just how useful a tool IRT is for the maintenance of your site. Here are the 4 common expectations from our clients that we systematically need to address if we want you to have a stress-free IRT survey.

Your expectation: 'My thermal pictures will be really sharp.'

We have already discussed the technology and science behind IRT. Today’s cameras are digital, radiometric (every pixel has a value), portable, un-cooled and affordable. We use FLIR cameras. They fit in our pocket and can be bought for less than £500. That alone is great news for us all.

Don't expect great resolution as this is still way behind that of your average smartphone though, but that will change. Fast forward 10 years and they will be embedded in every smart phone.

Your expectation: 'The survey will be conducted as soon as I submit the purchase order'.

How do we take an image properly, i.e. an image you can rely upon to make an investment-grade decision?

Once you have established your need to get a survey done and contacted us to describe your problem to one of our team members, you decide to proceed. Your deadline will be our major hurdle.

The weather is the biggest challenge we have. We need the right conditions to carry out a successful survey. No point promising you that it will be on your desk tomorrow if it is raining today and is too windy the next day. We need cool, dark, dry evenings to take thermal images. This means that you will have to wait until the weather conditions are correct.

Your expectation: 'You can come and survey at anytime.'

The shape and height of your buildings are not a problem: with our fleet of drones we can survey tens of thousands of metres of flat roofs in under one hour. We even take care of the civil aviation and insurance bureaucracy.

Access to your premises may be a problem though. We need to be able to see the entire fabric externally, internally, in daytime and again at night time. Sometimes special entry permission are required as invariably there will be out-of-hours access required. You need to make sure that security personnel has been informed, that someone is available to open and close the doors, that required authorisation  has been given and recorded. We can't enter premises without this, and will have to come back if we can't get access, hence delaying the survey and the reporting.

Your expectation: 'I'll get the report the day after the survey is done.'

Once thermal images of your building have been captured, depending on the size of your project, there is in general up to 5 days worth of  skillful analysis to be conducted. We don't take this lightly and do make recommendations based on the findings so that you can target repairs or refurbishment. This is what your infrared survey report is here to deliver: visual results and impartial advice so that you can make informed decisions.

Managing your expectations for a stress-free IRT survey report

With trouble-free access, the right weather and up-to-date equipment, we stand an excellent chance of successfully meeting your objectives.   If you are contemplating stripping off a flat roof on the advice of your flat roof leak survey report you are paying for, you best make sure you can trust the company providing that advice.

Used properly, IRT is an amazing technology which can save you thousands of pounds on your maintenance budget. By knowing what makes a valuable survey and its subsequent report, you are guaranteed a stress-free IRT survey experience.

Are you looking to refurbish your buildings and don't know where to start? We will be happy to advise you. Please contact us for your free no-obligation quote by clicking on the button below.

Budgeting for your IRT surveying services

Budgeting for your IRT surveying services

Budgeting

After careful consideration, you have decided to go ahead and commission an IRT survey. Now you are turning towards budgeting for it. Here we provide you with the information you need to unlock the finances and place your order.

We have already discussed what is included in the price of an IRT survey. Let's look at it again and explain the value of the elements comprising IRT surveys services.

The price of infrared cameras

Back in the 1980’s cameras were the preserve of universities. They cost close to £250,000 and you had to be kitted out with the car battery to power it, liquid nitrogen on your back to keep it cool, periscope to look through, VHS to record video footage and a hand held sensor.

Fast forward to the millennium, cameras were £40K, hand held, digital, un-cooled and offered a truly portable solution.

By 2010 the same camera technology was closer to £10K, more ergonomic, lighter, sleeker, had more features, in some cases higher resolution and were being integrated into the main stream.

Today,  the same camera is 50% less at around £5-6K – but a myriad of low end cameras have been introduced to the market place. You can spend less than £1,000 and get a piece of a high-performing equipment.

But just because you can – should you?

The price of expertly using the technology

Owning a camera does not make you a photographer. In all likelihood you are reading this and have an impressive camera on your desk, would you therefore describe yourself as a photographer on your LinkedIN profile? The same can be said for low end IRT cameras.

For the plumber and electricians out there having an IRT camera in the toolbox will be as everyday as their screwdriver and spanners, the tech will save them hours hunting for overheating cables and leaking pipework.

There will always be a market for consultants with high end equipment, providing a service to building owners and occupiers who regularly need the service. Clients who need to rely upon the advice in a court of law or to arrive at a cost-effective refurbishment solution for their portfolio. Those surveys can’t be done by low end IRT cameras. More than that though, they can’t be done at all by unskilled labour. You need to understand the physics going on within a building if you are to successfully survey it using IRT techniques.

You can buy a camera for less than a survey these days, but you need to carefully consider the hidden elements such as software, training, calibration, insurance and most importantly – liability. That’s without mentioning health and safety. As an asset manager, would you sleep at night if, using a £500 camera, you advise a client to rip off his roof and spend £500,000 to refit based on your advice?

How much are IRT surveys services for an asset manager?

At IRT surveys, thanks to the unique way we have grown across the country we are able to offer uniform pricing. From Inverness to Plymouth a survey costs the same. The service, speed and cameras are the same. The surveyors have undergone the same training regime. The cameras are FLIR and all are annually calibrated. Every office is insured to the same level.

Most critically of all, the reports are written centrally by qualified analysts who do nothing other than analyse images.

We charge our services at £1200 for surveying time on one site and £650 for office time. We don’t add anything to those prices. No mileage. No expenses. No hidden anything.

This flat pricing structure means you can budget for the survey accordingly and build it into your bill of quantities at an early stage.

Need to survey the roof of a building? One site and one office day. Simple.
Want to add the walls whilst we are there? Thank you – it adds £650.
You would like to quantify the images for energy loss? No problem – it adds… you guess it: £650.

The pricing model also allows us an economy of scale if you wish to survey multiple buildings. The same rules apply.

How much are IRT surveys services for a housing stock manager?

The same level of expertise and diligence applies as for built asset surveying.

Pricing for a housing stock is more complex as it depends on the size of a housing stock and the breadth of services required.

However, for budgetary purposes for you as a housing stock manager in a local authority or housing association, prices start at £20 per house. Pricing are based on the volume of houses, the level of surveying and the data exploitation thereafter using  our bespoke software.

Should you want to discuss your IRT surveying requirements, please contact us  by clicking on the button below.

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Infrared energy audit: 5 reasons to have it done

Infrared energy audit: 5 reasons to have it done

Hand with fingers showing 5 energy colours

Infrared technology is now being used by many major players in the built environment such as Housing Associations, Health Trusts, Local Authorities and Building Surveyors to reveal their assets inefficiencies and take meaningful decisions. You may have heard of it but you are not sure if it is for your building project.

Here are 5 reasons why it is time you considered using infrared technology to bring a visible and clear dimension to what you want to do.

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