Augmented reality as a new, low-threshold quality control

Digitalisation and innovation are becoming increasingly important on Ballast Nedam's construction sites. It results in faster decision-making, lower costs and a safer working environment. The new techniques enable us to include our clients in the construction process. One of these innovations? Augmented reality for quality checks on concrete structures that have yet to be poured.

Augmented reality is a live image of reality to which elements have been added by a computer. For example, on an image you see the street corner where you are currently located, but a construction site or even a bicycle path has been added by the computer. Do you turn to the right? Then the image does the same and you see the construction site or the bicycle path from a different angle.

The added value of augmented reality

Ballast Nedam uses augmented reality for quality inspections of structures that often still have to be poured, also known as 'pre pour inspections'. We superimpose two situations on each other in images: the actual situation and the design. This allows us to easily check whether the 3D design is also complete and in the correct position in reality. Anyone can make this comparison, so that any discrepancies are detected more quickly and we can act in good time.

Previously, this method of working was very different. These quality controls were carried out by a measuring officer who took measurements, compared these with the design in the computer and reported any deviations. Because this inspection always took place just before the concrete was poured, possible deviations were discovered (too) late. By applying augmented reality, this quality control is more accessible, our teams can see any discrepancies immediately and they can be repaired more quickly.

Implementation on the A24 Blankenburg connection

An example of an augmented reality project is the application on theA24 Blankenburg connection in Rotterdam. Using augmented reality, our measuring specialists check whether all the requirements in the construction docks have actually been installed. The concrete structures are then poured. The augmented reality serves as an extra check, in addition to the regular working method.

Clemens Tierie, coordinator of measurements and monitoring: "These checks must be carried out in a short time, in a convenient and accurate manner. That's why we started this new way of working on the A24 Blankenburg connection. We use augmented reality with a surveying GPS solution and high accuracy. This allows us to carry out checks with great precision."

The surveyors upload all data into a cloud. Every time the augmented reality application is started, the data is retrieved from the cloud again. This ensures that the correct, up-to-date drawings are always used, even when multiple systems are used on one construction site. Also, the inspector always uses the same files as the dimensioner.

In addition to this deployment on the A24 Blankenburg connection, this innovation is being tested at the Prinses Amaliahaven in Rotterdam, where we are constructing 2.4 kilometres of quays. Because the augmented reality system works on GPS, it cannot be used in covered situations, such as a building. We are therefore mainly using it in the outdoor environment: in infrastructure and civil concrete construction. Ballast Nedam expects augmented reality to become increasingly commonplace. This development in the industry is being closely monitored by our measurement specialists.