SUAVE SiteSeer    May, 2016

Welcome to the May 2016 edition of our e-bulletin, SiteSeer.

In the following articles, you’ll find details about our work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and some of our most recent photographic, video and 3D modelling projects. Customers across a wide variety of sectors are becoming increasingly aware of the potential that UAVs have for producing high quality site-survey data whilst also speeding projects, cutting costs and minimising safety risks.

Inspection surveys have become a key area of work for SUAVE, and, in this issue, we’ll take look at a recent aerial inspection project at the University of Manchester’s historic Coupland Buildings. We’ll also review a major construction project in Doncaster, where main contractor Verdion is building the iPort – a 6 million sq ft logistics park. Here, we are using UAVs to produce a monthly record of progress on site.

Our third featured project is a photographic and video survey of the walls of Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire. Managed by English Heritage, it’s an extensive and complex monument centring upon a 12th century Norman keep. Our work here involved monitoring the condition of the wall tops to enable English Heritage to develop a protective maintenance plan.

Professional UAV surveys are becoming ever more widely used and valued.

If you’d like to see what we can do for you, please contact us on 07842 766679.


UniOfMan Doncaster Middleham UniOfManPS

Roof Inspection: The Coupland Buildings
University of Manchester

Construction: iPort Doncaster UK
Buckingham Group Contracting

Heritage: Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire
English Heritage

Other News in Brief



Aerial Survey of the Coupland Buildings
University of Manchester

The University of Manchester owns and manages many historic listed buildings and these include a notable collection on Coupland Street, where SUAVE was recently asked to conduct an extensive roof survey. Coupland 3, for example, was built in 1891 as part of the School of Medicine and, today, it’s a striking structure of brickwork, decorative masonry and spires.

SUAVE was given the task of assessing the state of the various buildings’ roofs, chimneys and spires in order to evaluate the need and prioritisation of maintenance work. Recognising that a UAV-based inspection could deliver high quality results quickly, safely and cost-effectively, SUAVE was asked to produce high resolution photographs, together with point cloud data from which a 3D ‘wire frame’ model could be developed.

The survey was conducted over a series of four visits in January and February 2016. The work was challenging: weather conditions were often poor, so swift responsiveness was essential. Moreover, some of the roofs were highly complex, featuring a maze-like layout of ridges, pitches, valleys, spires and upstands. This demanded careful planning, good spatial awareness and skilful piloting throughout. Nevertheless, SUAVE safely secured the necessary records and was able to give the University a detailed insight into the condition of the various building components.

The resulting 3D model, which was used to generate AutoCAD / Autodesk line drawings and may be plugged into Building Information Modelling (BIM) software, will be particularly valuable for any contractors and architects working on the buildings in future. In the immediate term, it will inform decisions about scheduling maintenance works and what specialist materials will be required for them. In the longer term, it will serve as an accurate record of the buildings’ condition and a useful ‘benchmarking’ tool.



iPort Doncaster UK
Buckingham Group Contracting

Managed by Verdion – a leading development company – iPort Doncaster is a major construction project that will create an important new logistics hub in the heart of South Yorkshire. It is situated on a 136 hectare (337 acre) site and, when complete, will boast up to 55 hectares (6 million sq ft) of warehouse space. It will also incorporate a 14 hectare (35 acre) strategic rail freight terminal and could create as many as 5,000 new jobs within the region.

Work began in the summer of 2015 and Buckingham Group was commissioned to manage much of the associated land remediation and groundwork. The company has worked with SUAVE on a number of previous occasions and so it asked it to conduct regular aerial surveys in order to record progress on site. Accordingly, SUAVE has since visited the site every month to take high resolution images and to record broadcast quality video sequences, some of which now feature in the ‘gallery’ section of the iPort website.

In addition to showing how work is progressing, the aerial video also shows very clearly how close the new development is to the M18 and A1M motorways. The development’s proximity to road, rail, air and coastal connections is a key part of its appeal, so such video footage could play an important part in promoting the iPort to potential clients and securing important pre-letting agreements.

Sample video of the iPort can be seen here.



Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire
English Heritage

Situated in the scenic fields of Wensleydale, Middleham Castle was built in stages, beginning in 1190 – a year after Richard I took the English throne. It was the childhood home of Richard III and, briefly, a prison for King Edward IV. Today, though a ruin, it is still highly impressive and it remains a very popular tourist attraction. The castle – essentially a fortified palace – comprises the original 12th century Norman keep, a 13th century curtain wall, and a series of residential buildings added in the 15th century.

The monument is managed by English Heritage. In order to plan future conservation works, the organisation’s Survey Department decided to commission a UAV survey to assess the condition of the tops of the walls. SUAVE is listed on an English Heritage framework agreement and had previously done similar work on sites such as Stonehenge and Easby Abbey, so its track record made it a logical choice for the project.

Carried out in April 2016, the work involved aerial photography and capturing high definition video, both of which conservators will use to decide upon the need for conservation works. The constant changes in wall height and the sheer complexity of the castle layout made for challenging flights but as a specialist in the field, SUAVE completed the project without incident. Returning with the photographs and video, SUAVE then built a 3D model to verify that it had covered the whole extent of the site.



Other News in Brief

Since our last newsletter, we’ve experienced a considerable change in the business. Customers are clearly getting much more aware of what UAV systems can deliver and, as a result, we’ve seen a steady escalation in demand. The construction and inspection sides of the business have been particularly buoyant – with roof, wall, spire and chimney inspections accounting for much of our recent growth.

AdamTo cope with the rising demand, we’ve appointed an extra UAV pilot, Adam Thorpe, who is qualified to operate all our aerial systems. We have also invested in a number of new ultra-stable UAVs, which minimise vibration and therefore deliver the best possible image quality. Broadcast quality video is now an important capability for us, and this sits alongside a well established range of services that include photography, 3D modelling and the development of bespoke UAV mission software.

The SUAVE team also includes a new executive partner (Peter Mansfield) and new administrative support, and to provide scope for further expansion, we recently moved to larger premises at the Alexandra Business Park in St Helens. By the end of 2017, we aim to employ a further four fully qualified UAV pilots and, coming soon, we hope to announce the launch of our new Real Time Kinematic GPS system for UAVs.



Further Information:

For details of all our latest heritage, construction and inspection projects, please visit our online gallery. If you have any questions or if you’d like to discuss a project of your own, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please call us on 07842 766 679 or email me at

P.S. Please feel free to forward a link to this page to your friends and colleagues!

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