Three Ways to Optimize Your Campus Utility Management

Your campus—whether comprised of offices, university halls, or factory buildings—can sharpen its utility management strategy through the use of 3D utility mapping technology. There are efficiencies to be gained by electronically connecting the utility data across your sprawling property, and the experts at SiteMap can help you navigate this modern process to promote employee safety, conserve resources and costs, and confidently meet your construction deadlines.

What is a utility map, and how does it work?

Sitework company Castle says, “A utility map is a map that provides a clear indication of the exact location of underground utilities, allowing a project to be planned around that existing infrastructure. A thorough utility map includes identification of buried sewer lines, stormwater lines, electric and telecommunication cables, gas lines and water mains.” A utility map shows how features above and below ground relate to each other, even revealing features that were perhaps hidden or unclear.

The 3D aspect of utility mapping is cutting-edge technology that gives even deeper insight into your campus’ utility footprint. For example, a 3D utility map can display pipes in color coding, showing the angles and geometry among them. SoftDig explains, “This process usually includes the use of mobile laser scanners, optical cameras, and a device that relays 3D data to a cloud server. […] Then you can use CAD applications and these cloud points to create an accurate map. It’s easier to see the exact shape, density, and size of physical objects buried underground with specialized 3D scanning equipment.”

GPRS can provide 3D laser scanning prior to concrete pouring as well as post-tension locating on an existing slab. The former involves ensuring the conduits, sleeves, and rebar are safe and placed as expected, so that the final concrete pour is smoothly executed. The latter method scans for the location of post-tension cables, which support the weight and flexibility of large buildings such as apartment buildings, offices, parking garages, and more. This activity ensures that any damages or failure points to cables within the concrete can be addressed during a construction project. 

SiteMap functionality can add further value to your utility locates using a combination of the MapViewer and Digital Plan Room to dynamically connect all of your locations and their facility data. In addition to utility maps, your campus can store blueprints, permits, maintenance logs, historical project information, drone footage and more. When those documents are housed in one central repository, the whole picture is even more valuable than the sum of its parts.

How can you optimize your utility management with utility mapping?

Develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): An SOP manual provides centralized knowledge, combining actual as-built information and organizational instructions so that the utility specifications no longer live in one employee’s head, filing cabinet, or hard drive. By understanding where your utilities exist and are consumed, any employee who needs to understand the utility footprint will have a thorough three-dimensional view. From there, you can draft an SOP to optimize your utility-related procedures so that all employees know not only where utilities are, but how to handle them and replicate standard tasks and troubleshooting. The tasks included can range from small measures to campus-wide operations, but standardization is what makes the difference. Facility Executive adds, “Examples of such SOP tasks can include turning off lights or adjusting thermostats, etc. before closing the building for the day or when not in immediate use. Utility best practices can also be incorporated into regular housekeeping tasks, kitchen management, and other key areas of operations.”

  • Develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): An SOP manual provides centralized knowledge, combining actual as-built information and organizational instructions so that the utility specifications no longer live in one employee’s head, filing cabinet, or hard drive. By understanding where your utilities exist and are consumed, any employee who needs to understand the utility footprint will have a thorough three-dimensional view. From there, you can draft an SOP to optimize your utility-related procedures so that all employees know not only where utilities are, but how to handle them and replicate standard tasks and troubleshooting. The tasks included can range from small measures to campus-wide operations, but standardization is what makes the difference. Facility Executive adds, “Examples of such SOP tasks can include turning off lights or adjusting thermostats, etc. before closing the building for the day or when not in immediate use. Utility best practices can also be incorporated into regular housekeeping tasks, kitchen management, and other key areas of operations.”
  • Enhance safety and efficiency in new projects: When a utility map is up to date, your team can have confidence when digging for renovation or new construction projects on your campus. Risks of not using updated utility maps include misrepresented or incomplete survey data, design changes due to relying on incorrect as-builts, and conflict with utilities. There can also be more serious consequences, such as rupturing a gas line, puncturing an underground fuel tank, or an engineer being shocked by an unexpected electrical line.

    Updating your 3D utility mapping means that your subsurface utility data is collected on current technology, and that your employees can safely dig, drill, or build with a much lower risk of injury or damaging other resources in the process. You can optimize project timelines, as you will spend far less time locating specialists and investigating utility placement.

  • Save on utility costs: Facility Executive explains, “Contrary to popular belief, utility and overall energy usage is, in fact, a variable cost of doing business. It varies by external factors such as weather and internal operational factors.” An accurate depiction of your on-campus utilities, both collectively and by individual location, can help your team pinpoint opportunity areas to optimize consumption of resources such as electricity and water. Your projects will also stay on-budget when you can clearly define your utilities and don’t have to waste funds and employees’ time hunting for them retroactively.

Conclusion

If your business or educational institution seeks to ensure safe employee procedures, refine your facilities’ utility data below and above ground, and contain fluctuating energy costs across your footprint, then the effort of 3D utility mapping will provide returns on your investment. Contact SiteMap, powered by GPRS, to learn more about how our geospatial infrastructure mapping technology can support your campus’ utility optimization.