‘While we’re out taking measurements, I’m already thinking of where we can improve’

Niels Balens

My name is Niels Balens and I am Manager Land Surveying at BAM Contractors in Belgium. My team consists of twelve land surveyors who conduct measurements. We measure the existing situation on a project site to determine the project’s coordinates and, after completion, check that the structure complies with the plan for the ‘as-built’ completion file.

Meticulous to a fault

We are called in because of our accuracy – we know the correct work method and choose the most suitable equipment. Often these are classic tools such as the total station, GPS and spirit level, but we also use more modern equipment, such as scanners that can quickly produce point clouds and drones that provide photogrammetry for 3D modelling. This data is then processed into information that provides our colleagues at the construction site with a better understanding of the location and the quality of their work.

Greater involvement in construction

Thanks to innovations in our field of expertise, we are able to take measurements much faster and with greater precision. That time gain allows us to become more involved in the construction itself. For example, during the renovation work at a station in Antwerp, we scanned two lift columns, mapping the entire surface. That brought to light a small projection outwards which could be corrected before the lift was delivered – saving additional expense. And for the Aalter-Beernem rail track tender, we used a drone to measure the area. That made it easy for us to see what groundwork needed to be done which in turn resulted in an accurate cost calculation.

Happy with proactive ownership

My team and I want to support the construction site as best we can. While we’re out taking measurements, I’m already thinking of where we can improve. I’m glad with the freedom I have to act on that. For me, success in my job is when we work as a close-knit team and deliver good results. During a presentation to Quality Assurance staff from roughly eight BAM companies, I experienced first-hand how interesting it is to exchange ideas. So I’d really like to work towards a cross-BAM platform for land surveyors.