What Are Geotechnical Instrumentation Contractors?

Geotechnical instrumentation contractors are a subset of civil engineers specializing in using specialized instruments and equipment to monitor subsurface conditions, record data, and perform excavation and fill-in activities.

Here are the roles of geotechnical instrumentation contractors provided by instrumentation companies.

  1. A geotechnical instrumentation contractor monitors ground conditions such as subsidence, slope stability, and groundwater levels during construction projects. Because of the importance of this service to the safety of project workers and the protection of structures, geotechnical instrumentation contractors are usually required to provide 24-hour coverage with a minimum number of hours per month or year, depending on the contract requirements.
  2. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors often work closely with engineers because they need an understanding of their design objectives to make sound decisions about what types and sizes of instruments will best meet these objectives. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors may also work with designers, engineers, and surveyors to develop the detailed specifications for instruments needed during construction.
  3. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors typically use non-invasive methods that provide measurements of ground conditions which can be translated into engineering design. Although non-invasive methods are often more accurate than traditional concrete or steel tools, they often take longer to complete and are less accurate at large scales. This scale dependence can affect project schedules or the amount of foundation needed to support buildings and other structures in the case of foundation construction. Due to the scale dependence, the instrumentation of long and large projects can be very expensive.
  4. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors are generally paid per job within a design-bid-build project. They must typically establish the project schedule and ensure that the instruments are delivered on time. This is necessary because construction delays can result in severe penalties or even the cancellation of a contract. The contractor also often supervises construction personnel to ensure that any damage caused by ground conditions is promptly repaired and performs construction inspections to determine if any damages have been left behind on-site when contractors leave, repair, or remove instruments.
  5. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors are hired as specialists who can provide geotechnical and soil engineering services to clients. These instruments may be used to measure soil density, site settlement, or pore pressure. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors take soil samples and install the appropriate instruments to get readings of certain factors in the surrounding environment.
  6. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors are often involved in discovering problems related to ground stability. This may be a lack of lateral support, tipping or settlements, or structural problems leading to movement. The geotechnical instrumentation contractor will use monitoring devices such as boreholes and piezometers to determine if ground instability is present and its extent.
  7. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors monitor ground shaking through acoustic sensors placed near potential hazards such as dams and nuclear power plants. These sensors pick up changes caused by seismic activity and send a signal to a centralized computer where technicians can monitor the situation.
  8. The ground is constantly changing during construction. These changes are constantly monitored to ensure the safety of the workers and the stability of the structure or site built upon. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors set up instruments to measure ground movements during construction activities. This might also be used to ensure that any soil excavated from one location is placed back in another location so that erosion doesn’t occur at one end of the project. And with oil and gas exploration, the work for these types of personnel is all about tracking oil and gas movements in and around the land under the drill site.
  9. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors can monitor the movement of large earth-moving projects. These activities are constantly moving the ground, and if they are not monitored, they could cause soil erosion, settlement, and other problems that could affect the surrounding environment. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors support these projects to ensure safety and stability will be maintained.
  10. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors perform a wide range of monitoring tasks to ensure production from oil and gas wells is handled safely and effectively. These tasks include measuring the depth of the formation and the stability of wells and ensuring that pipelines are correctly installed, so they don’t move during seismic activity.

The proper use of geotechnical instrumentation contractors is essential to understanding the ground conditions and safety. By installing electronic monitoring equipment in an underground facility or at a project site, buried utility lines are detected before they are accidentally damaged from excavation activities. Geotechnical instrumentation contractors also provide data for analysis regarding groundwater pressure, slope stability, and earth movements.