Monitoring and the Future of Heavy Construction: New Services Create Company Growth

Case Study

Käppeli Digital Monitoring in Heavy Construction header

Author: Megan Hansen

Monitoring and the Future of Heavy Construction: New Services Create Company Growth

The Käppeli group employs over 400 people and offers core competencies in construction, logistics, sustainability and digitisation. Aligned to the evolution of the construction industry, Käppeli integrates optimum digitisation within their company. As part of the larger Käppeli group, Käppeli Digital AG, based in Sargans, Switzerland, uses digital tools to expand their services and provide a wide range of offerings in geomatics, construction and smart buildings, visualisations, information technology and simulation.

The company carries out a variety of projects, including:

  • 3D laser scanning of residential, industrial and commercial buildings and land
  • Deformation monitoring
  • Creating terrain models from UAV flight data
  • Generating data for construction stakeout and machine control models
  • 3D machine control

The diversity of Käppeli Digital’s projects shows that their focus on digitisation and innovative technologies has helped them to be an effective service provider in many new aspects of the heavy construction industry, including monitoring.

The Käppeli Digital Team, offering monitoring services to their customers within heavy construction and other industries


Monitoring services for sustainable success

The current workforce on many construction sites includes at least one person from the team for building, excavation, railway or infrastructure monitoring. Based on evolving market needs, Käppeli Digital decided to expand its offerings to include a range of in-house monitoring services.

Käppeli Digital’s expertise in monitoring has increased, improving quality and increasing value. With the ability to undertake monitoring projects internally, they can map, plan and complete processes and tasks faster. Since the demand for monitoring services in civil engineering is constantly growing, the decision to expand the range of services was not only necessary, but also logical and positive for the future-oriented company.

When evaluating providers to help them expand their services into automated monitoring, Käppeli Digital considered the requirements of long-term monitoring projects and the advantage of their prior experience with Leica total stations.

“An important factor in our decision to use the Leica Geosystems monitoring solution was its easy integration into our existing systems,” explains Patrick Forrer, Construction and Smart Building Consultant at Käppeli Digital.


Sargans sewage treatment plant expansion: safety comes first

In 2020 Käppeli was able to use the Leica solution to perform automated monitoring of a major sewage treatment renovation, demonstrating the setup process and capabilities of the system.

The Sargans sewage treatment plant processes wastewater from Mels, Sargans and Vilters-Wangs, three municipalities with a total population of approximately 25,000. The plant recently required renovations costing approximately 34 million Swiss Francs. The project’s deep excavation pits were located close to the SBB railway tracks, increasing the likelihood of track settlement and prompting railway operator SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) to require the installation of a fully automatic monitoring system before work began. The main objectives of monitoring the renovation area and its vicinity included:

  • Early detection of any settlement/deformation
  • Operational safety of the track systems and train operations
  • Safety of workers and contractors involved in the construction
  • Evidence of damage caused by the construction work

For Käppeli Digital, the optimal monitoring solution for the sewage plant renovation included:

Käppeli Digital & Leica Geosystems - A monitoring power package 

The first steps in monitoring: Training and project-specific configuration

Following a one-day training session by Leica Geosystems explaining the configuration, setup and operation for the monitoring solution, Käppeli Digital began the on-site operations. During this time, they mounted the sensors in the field and set up the reference and monitoring points. A secondary camera was integrated into the system to visually monitor additional local conditions. Käppeli Digital was then able to fully configure the system to run autonomously.

Käppeli Digital Monitoring Projects


A deeper look at the monitoring project

At two-hour intervals, the monitoring systems automatically measured and evaluated 10 prisms on the catenary powerline support columns and 28 prisms on the railway track sleepers. With this data, the following measurements and results were continuously analysed:

  • Twisting, change of vertical/horizontal alignment and height difference of the rails
  • Horizontal and vertical displacement of the catenary support columns
  • Inclination change of the catenary support columns (longitudinal and transversal)

This fully automated monitoring data acquisition system supplied a central server with continuous telemetry from the site, which was automatically analysed. If the client’s specified limit levels were exceeded, notifications were instantly sent via email, MS Teams and SMS to all persons included on an alert list. Additionally, every Monday, the client and other stakeholders received a monitoring report with graphs.

During the scheme, additional manual monitoring measurements were imported into the system with the automatic measurements at defined intervals and analysed in GeoMoS Now! This manual monitoring campaign and automated monitoring solution continued through September 2021.

“The system works perfectly.” Says Forrer. “We will certainly continue to use it for our customers in the future and would definitely recommend the entire monitoring system too.”


Monitoring services and business growth

Käppeli Digital’s Sargans sewage treatment plant monitoring project demonstrates the steps required to establish a comprehensive and fully automated structural monitoring solution along with the value of customisation and reporting for customers.

“The products we use for fully automated, long-term monitoring completely meet our expectations. The system, the software and the hardware is stable and problem-free in continuous operation,” reflects Pascal Bonderer Managing Director of Käppeli Digital. “With any issues or requests, the support provided by Leica Geosystems has always been prompt and very competent.”

In addition to continuous monitoring, Käppeli Digital completes campaign monitoring projects where, for example, weekly measurements are taken by monitoring experts on site. You can read more about Käppeli Digital’s campaign monitoring here.

Across campaign and automated monitoring, Käppeli Digital’s addition of valuable monitoring services has fostered company growth.

“Proven and reliable systems are crucial for us,” explains Bonderer. “The resulting stability translates into direct time savings and has opened up a new business area. We hope to win more monitoring contracts in the future.”

With Leica Geosystems’ years of experience in monitoring and single-source solutions, they were an ideal partner for Käppeli Digital’s journey between campaign monitoring projects and automated solutions, supporting them to widen their portfolio of services to customers.


Interested in monitoring? Please feel free to read further case studies, showing how our customers use our solution to improve their monitoring workflow:

Monitoring Case Studies

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