A Cost Benefit Analysis of Vertical Measurement Tools for Differential Levelling

Champion, Scott (2017) A Cost Benefit Analysis of Vertical Measurement Tools for Differential Levelling. [USQ Project]


Within business today, it is important to find a balance between charging the client enough to ensure that an enterprise makes an adequate profit, and charging the client so much that they cause them to employ an alternative enterprise at a reduced rate. In doing so, the client may be forced to ignore the risks to the job, associated with contracting an unknown entity. In this sort of business environment, can a business afford to buy a new piece of technology, or can it afford not to? Answering this dilemma is the intent of this dissertation.

For example, despite its inherent accuracy, when compared to earlier levelling instruments, a digital level is a significant expense for a surveying enterprise to make. Can the additional outlay be justified in terms of time saved or accuracy increased? Are there alternatives available within the current toolset of the average surveyor, that are capable of providing adequate information without the extra financial burden upon the business?

In order to assess these requirements in a real world sense, the set aim of the study was to evaluate the affordability, and suitability, of using vertical measurement alternatives, in establishing survey control marks for lodgement with state organisations, by using Cost Benefit Analysis. To facilitate this a suitable course was set for a Static GNSS control network that would be supplemented with differential levelling data.

The three instruments used for the comparison were a Trimble Dini level, a Nikon AS-2C automatic level and a Trimble S6 Total Station, with Level Me installed in the hand controller. Each of the three instruments were used to find the height variation from a known point to four unknowns, and upon completion of each traverse the data was uploaded into Trimble Business Centre, adjusted and combined with the Static GNSS data for a series of comparative analyses.
The final step in the cost/benefit analysis process was to conduct a simple comparative analysis of the results from the trial of each individual system. The results showed little difference between the time taken to complete each traverse, nor for the actual results achieved. The key factor that was identified apart from the difference in upload times, was the apparent systematic divergence of the automatic level results from digital level results, and the random errors found in the total station results.

These results led to the determination that the digital level was the only instrument with sufficient precision for the completion of the set task. This then led to the cost benefit analysis of the choice between purchasing the digital level, hiring it, or contracting an alternative business to complete the task instead. While it was shown that the choice to purchase the instrument was marginally more financially viable than the contracted solution, it was also shown that these results were very sensitive to minor changes in the set parameters.

This research project has made major inroads into the increased understanding of techniques available for analysing the profitability of decisions. These are decisions that are made on a daily basis within any surveying enterprise, and on often less than superficial analysis, which can ultimately cost that business dearly. The use of this knowledge will go a long way toward ensuring a business long-term profitability, and the viability of the surveying industry as a whole.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Paudyal, Dev Raj
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2021 06:09
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2023 01:41
URI: https://sear.unisq.edu.au/id/eprint/40790

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