Damage prevention

Damage Prevention Awareness

January 12, 2023

By Nate Osterberg, Director of Strategic Growth, WSB

Impacts on the Oil and Gas Industry

According to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), damages to underground facilities cost $61 billion annually. To protect the public, reduce costs, and incorporate asset management, damage prevention has become a relevant conversation for stakeholders across the construction industry. Advances in technology and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) are spurring more engagement throughout the country.

IIJA Impact

With the passage of IIJA, there is an increase in construction activity including utility, road, and renewable infrastructure. The current demand for utility locators is extraordinary and when coupled with the labor shortage and increasing demand, it is only becoming more challenging. In these circumstances, we rely on technology to guide us. To offset impacts from the labor market we incorporate digital mapping into production locating processes.

Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)
SUE is the investigation of buried utilities that identifies conflicts and mitigates risks in the pre-engineering phase of construction. Using survey grade-accuracy with cutting-edge locating and survey equipment, capable of sub-centimeter accuracy, we identify risk and conflicts. Our team captures the location information to digitally map the facilities. When unlocatable utilities are identified, our team of damage prevention specialists approaches the challenge with different means and methods.   

Cataloging for the Future

Locating the utility is the first step, but just as important is the data collection. Once a utility is located the information is documented and added to an asset management database. This process is having a major impact on the industry and is assuring accuracy for future locates. Construction plans are evaluated through a digital twin utility map, resulting in cost and time savings and enhanced design data. After decades of stagnant innovation, the industry is advancing quickly because of cutting-edge tools that allow for safer conditions and better planning.

Impact Across an Industry

With hundreds of field staff on active job sites, the collection of highly accurate location data for new and existing facilities is becoming vital to project performance.  With minimal impact on budget and a streamlined mapping process, data collection efforts reduce the time it takes to provide facility owners and 811 systems with updated and accurate records.

The Top Drivers in Damage Prevention

  1. Public Safety
  2. Infrastructure Act
  3. 5G initiative
  4. Increased Damages to Facilities
  5. Unlocatable and Untoneable Utilities
  6. Workforce Turnover & Experience
3D design

Our Approach to Digital Delivery

Introducing Digital Plus

The future of project delivery

Beyond paperless

For many years, the AEC industry has been embracing advancements in the way we deliver projects.  Paperless plans were the first step in this process. Fast forwarding to today, paperless plans have evolved one step further. People often refer to any digital plan set as paperless, but at WSB, we take our designs one step beyond paperless by creating 100% models. 100% models mean the entire project is created and designed in 3D.

100% models house data and design information from the entire project lifecycle, leaving owners and contractors with an accurate, detailed, data-based model to support asset management needs well into the future.

The development of DigitalPlus

WSB is committed to leading our industry in the use of cutting-edge tools to work smarter.  As a firm, we’ve been at the leading edge of digital delivery efforts for many years.  Our approach is unique and one that has been internationally recognized as a best practice in digital project delivery.  To help tell this story, we created DigitalPlus. 

DigitalPlus is the future of digital delivery. Through a combination of cutting-edge tools, expertise and a commitment to innovation, we are shaping the way our industry delivers projects. We believe in advanced project delivery, and we know how to apply the right technology and expertise to support our infrastructure needs. Through DigitalPlus, we are setting new standards, developing best practices and changing our industry’s approach to multidimensional digital design.

Why DigitalPlus

As engineers, we are motivated by the opportunities to design infrastructure projects that support our communities. The infrastructure around us has a significant impact on our daily lives. From drafting plan sets to public meetings, we live in the details and embrace the full process.  We also embrace the advancements in our industry and how we can leverage technology to deliver better projects for our clients.


The benefits

  • Improve Quality
  • Sustainability
  • Enhanced Scheduling
  • Better Managed Risk
  • Relationship Management (Contractors | Owners)
  • Improve Cost
  • Increase Collaboration and Communication

What is DigitalPlus

A combination of expertise and cutting-edge tools.

Data Collection

Data is the foundation of any good project. We use several traditional data collection methods to gather data points that help paint a picture of the world around us. Good data is vital to the DigitalPlus process.

3D Design

Designing in 3D allows us to develop the project while providing a complete and accurate picture of the final product, significantly improving project outcomes.

4D / 5D

4D/5D modeling improves accuracy and efficiency by adding time and cost functions into design. The true power lies in the way a model can be used during preliminary design, final design and throughout construction.

Asset Management

Asset Management is the collection of an agency’s infrastructure assets and includes a plan for managing assets over the infrastructure’s lifespan. Through digital twins, assets can be managed virtually and accurately.

Utility Coordination

Digital delivery aids utility coordination by translating utility information into a 3D environment that can be compared with the design to identity and mitigate conflicts.

Visualization

Real-time 3D visualization has completely transformed site-specific review and public engagement efforts. Visualizations allow for active participation regardless of project scope and size.

Traffic Operations

Through simulation technology and trip-origin destination data, roadway designs are now guided by real-time and historical mobility movement data.

Integrated Project Delivery

A process, rather than a project that all starts with an idea. Through a combination of expertise and cutting-edge tools, land developers and owners identify opportunities and challenges before a project begins.

Machine Control Modeling

Using 3D models and GPS data, machine control modeling allows earthwork machinery to be accurately positioned. Design surfaces, grades and alignments are directly imported into construction equipment, resulting in increased accuracy and timelines.


To learn more, visit: www.wsbdigitalplus.com

Asset Management

A Holistic Approach to Asset Management Can Direct Success

by shannon mcgrath, Director of Asset Management Planning, WSB

The state of Minnesota’s 2022 infrastructure report card was released earlier this year by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the state of our infrastructure is not great. Within the report card, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was commended for their approach to employing asset management strategies to support infrastructure needs across the state. Collectively, there are opportunities to improve infrastructure at the state and local level through the use of a comprehensive asset management program, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming.

Understanding Infrastructure Asset Management

Asset management is defined many ways. In this context, infrastructure assets should be thought of as any asset used by the public. Roads, bridges, culverts, dams, pipes, and buildings are just a few examples of public infrastructure. 

From there, the approach is to develop planning and strategy to minimize total cost of ownership, increase reliability and resiliency, and meet a desired level of service.

Implementing Asset Management into Community Planning

Planning for and implementing comprehensive asset management plans and programs should be thought of as a multi-step process that includes the following:

  1. Defining vision and objectives
  2. Collecting and managing inventory and condition data
  3. Conducting risk analysis
  4. Developing performance measures and targets
  5. Completing a performance gap analysis
  6. Planning for life cycle management, financial, and investment strategies
  7. Implementing technologies to meet an organization’s goal

Asset owners can start in several places, but it’s important to take a thorough, thoughtful look at all assets and plan for how to best allocate funds and time. That means taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of your desired level of service and how to achieve it both efficiently and effectively. 

Scalable Solutions

Asset management is a spectrum and can be scaled to any type of asset and any size community or organization. Different communities are at different levels of maturity in planning, but it’s important to recognize a current state and where improvements can be made. 

Furthermore, by facilitating discussions holistically and cross-departmentally, rather than driving asset management through a single area, the idea and importance of it can be adopted into the culture. Emerging trends like more efficient technology and tools to capture, store, and analyze data are also driving more informed decision making and helping drive better planning for communities and organizations of all sizes. 

Shannon has spent over a decade advancing asset management at local, state, and national levels by serving on asset management committees, advisory panels, and project management teams. While working at MnDOT, Shannon directed the agency-wide asset management planning including projects, research, policy, innovation, strategic planning, and implementation in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.

smcgrath@wsbeng.com | 651.492.9291

Spring flooding expected, new model warns asset managers about potential risks

By Nick Rodgers, Coastal Geomorphologist, WSB

2019 marked the wettest spring on record in the U.S. and with it came extensive flooding, affecting millions of Americans. The National Weather Service just released its 2020 spring flood outlook, predicting that flooding will be above average again. Minor flooding is expected in the spring, but recent warm winters have increased flooding by saturating soils before spring rains arrive. Like 2019, this spring is forecasted to bring above normal precipitation.

Large scale flooding damages infrastructure and displaces people from their homes. The 2019 floods caused millions of acres of farmland to go unused and transported the farms’ fertilizer to the Gulf of Mexico, creating a massive “dead zone” where fish cannot survive. Flooding can cause a “natural hazard cascade” where one disaster leads to more including erosion, landslides, and chemical contamination. The total cost of 2019 flooding is estimated to be $6.2 billion.

Our team at WSB recently developed a flood model to predict flood extent and help asset managers reduce damage to infrastructure. In general, these models can be used to assess risk for specific pieces of infrastructure, individual cities, or entire states. With this new flood model, we help asset managers determine risk by first predicting where flooding is most likely to occur. This information allows us to work with stakeholders to decide which assets are most vital. The process informs asset managers which critical assets are most likely to experience flooding and where flood risk is highest. Asset managers use limited resources to fight a seemingly unlimited amount of water. A strong understanding of risk is vital when deciding how to use limited resources for the next historic flood event. Although we cannot control the warm winters and wet springs that face us, we can control how we respond and prepare.

Nick is an environmental consultant with one year of project experience specializing in geohazard risk assessments, geomorphology, and GIS analysis. His technical skills include developing GIS models for geohazards, client consultation on how geohazards affect public and private assets, data visualization, and expertise in coastal and fluvial geomorphology. His non-technical skills include public speaking, developing client relationships, and project scoping. Most recently, Nick designed a new GIS flood risk model that estimates risk for large areas with minimal data input.

nrodgers@wsbeng.com | 612.219.9470