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Antti's employee story: the multidimensional world of measuring
15 March, 2024

Antti's employee story: the multidimensional world of measuring

15 March, 2024

Antti Hiltunen is Suvic's Senior Survey Manager, who joined the team in spring 2022. He applied for a job at Suvic as he was attracted by a good working community with familiar and like-minded people. The best thing about the job for Antti is the variety and the new challenges to be solved.  

Surveying indoors and outdoors 

Antti was inspired to apply to study surveying as an apprentice ten years ago: "My first professional training was as a wilderness guide, and it sounded like the job description of a surveyor would offer a suitable balance of outdoor and technical aspects." After school, a six-month technical traineeship with a local municipality followed, after which the desire to go into building surveying was clear. "I've been lucky in my career in that I've had good mentors and guides along the way since my first summer jobs, and I got to grips with the right way of working straight away," says Antti. 

After the traineeship, he continued working for a surveying company, where he also worked on wind energy sites: "I got to know the people and the way of working at Suvic, which inspired me to apply for a more challenging role at the company."  

In practice, the job of the surveying manager involves allocating and supervising work. Antti procures resources for the sites. "I also define guidelines on the specifications to be used for measurements," he says. Although field work walking around to solve challenges on the site is the most visible part of the job, much of modern surveying work is done on the computer. "For example, surveying data, mass quantities, machine control models and editing them are actually the biggest part of the job."  

The best thing about the job for Antti is the variety: "You never know what the day will bring, what kind of tasks and challenges you will get to tackle and to what extent. It keeps your mind fresh!" When asked who Antti would recommend surveying to, he stresses that the work is ultimately about solving practical problems. In the work itself, it's good to understand that there is no such thing as a flawless measurement, and that's why you always have to keep a sense of perspective. 

The surveyor ensures quality  

In best case scenario surveying enables predictability, cost control and quality assurance. The surveyor can prepare in advance for future work, and it is in everyone's interest that any issues that may need to be taken into account in the design or implementation are already identified at this stage. "The value of good surveying is not always fully understood on site. Often the surveyors are consultants, but because Suvic has its own surveyors, working with the site is straightforward: work is done in the same rhythm and problems are solved together," Antti emphasises. Surveying helps to achieve the locations required by the permit conditions and to keep construction within the defined project specifications. Antti explains that within project sites there may also be a need to mark "no-go areas", where rare plants, endangered animals or ancient monuments may be found.  

Antti shares that the need to maintain knowledge is almost automatic, as there are constant stimuli that lead to the search for and internalisation of new information. "Especially on a new type of site, you have to delve quite deeply into the standards of the particular field in order to design the measurement as required." In addition to continuous self-study and learning the ropes, the training required for surveying work includes road safety and, of course, the always useful first-aid skills. 

So, what can go wrong with measuring? According to Antti, the biggest problem in measurement is the possibility of human error: "There is usually nothing wrong with the instrument end, but checking the measurement results is part of the routine. The most common cause of error is a rush - for one reason or another." An interesting detail in the work of a surveyor is the monitoring of the space weather, as strong atmospheric disturbances due to solar winds can cause unexpected problems for satellite positioning. "You can't always be sure whether it's disturbance or interference, but the bottom line is that the system itself doesn't detect errors in these particular cases," Antti concludes. 

The future of surveying is virtual  

A surveyor is a very old job description. History records surveying in ancient Egypt as far back as around 2700 BC and in the Roman Empire a surveyor was a highly recognised profession. In the past, surveyors were needed not only for construction work but also for the mapping of empires and conquered territories. Antti says the basics are still the same: "Observations are made in the real world, and then modelled in one way or another to the desired accuracy. However, we have come a long way from painting and illustrating beautiful watercolours to using CAD software to warp images." 

Today, the construction process is aided by a three-dimensional surface model. Machines such as excavators, on the other hand, are equipped with GPS, so they can see in real time the level on which the surface is being built. Antti says that the measurement technology itself hasn't changed much for a while, but augmented reality and drone imaging are currently adding extra flavour. With augmented reality, it's possible to see what's happening on the site before the crane has even hit the ground. This allows any design changes to be identified in good time. Antti gives an example: "If, for example, a road line is unnecessarily high, you can see it in the wild immediately, and by lowering the road level you can save on the amount of crushed stone." Suvic already has Trimble AR equipment in use, which allows the user to view the situation of the machine control model and the relationship between the plans and the implementation on the screen of the phone. "With the drone equipment the point cloud is determined either by scanning or photogrammetry, which in turn allows the data to be used to support the design or to monitor the execution," Antti explains.   

In addition to robotic tacheometer, the surveyors are accompanied by GNSS equipment based on satellite positioning. "Even though we have expensive and fancy toys, we always carry a tape measure and a level," Antti laughs, and says that string line, rebar markers and spray paint bottles are still standard equipment. 

Who  

Name: Antti Hiltunen  
Started at Suvic: March 2022  
Title: Senior Survey Manager 
Qualifications: surveyor 

Elektroniikkatie 4
90590 Oulu, Finland
+358 20 741 8840

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