Civils and stations

01.01.07

Why use a professional surveyor?

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Dec/Jan 2007

Rory Stanbridge, secretary general, and Neil Harvey, chairman of public relations committee, The Survey Association

As every engineer knows, foundations are the critical starting point for all construction work. Likewise, surveys are the critical starting point of all designs. Why is it then that so often the survey is an afterthought or that members of design teams do not consult or communicate with each other regarding extents, scopes and specifications of surveys? Why is the surveyor just regarded as a supplier of information and not as a critical member of the design team? On smaller projects the surveyor may not be required beyond the initial provision of survey drawings but his input to the initial stages could be highly beneficial to both the team and the client.

We are not talking about quantity surveying here. We are referring to a whole range of technical surveys for instance and not exhaustively - land, measured building, aerial, hydrographic, utility, geophysical, LIDAR, laser scanning, monitoring and setting out. Are you even aware what all these surveys are, or what they could do to assist with your project?

What can the surveyor bring to the table? Today’s surveyor brings expertise not only in surveying, but also an awareness of modern techniques and appropriate methods for your particular project. The professional surveyor can advise on specifications and accuracies. Sometimes this might save costs initially or provide a more detailed survey specification initially at higher cost which may give savings further down the line. Surveying has many specialisms and if the surveyor does not have expertise in an appropriate field s/he can advise which company or specialist would be more appropriate. This is where the TSA comes into its own. If your surveyor is a TSA member company and is not experienced in a particular field, the company will know or can find out through his TSA contacts another member with the relevant expertise.

So what is TSA? TSA, known generally as The Survey Association, is the trade body for land, hydrographic and technical survey companies in the UK. The association was formed 28 years ago to give a focus for private sector businesses in land and hydrographic survey. Today, TSA has over 100 companies in membership as full, associate or supplier members directly involved in the survey business. The full and associate member companies together employ over 2000 people and had a turnover in 2005 of almost £100 million.

The role of the TSA is to promote best practice amongst its members, provide a forum for members for discussion, debate and continuing professional development and, to the wider audience such as engineers, provide guidance on new methods and techniques and a list of suitably qualified and experienced companies. TSA is also heavily involved in lobbying Government and other agencies such as the Environment Agency regarding policies likely to affect or involve the survey industry. TSA also liaises with RICS and ICES on a range of issues and has established a group called the SLG, or survey liaison group. This body meets at regular intervals to examine matters of mutual interest and to ensure that there is little or no duplication of effort by the three bodies. TSA is also in discussions at the moment with RIBA to determine how the two bodies can work together more effectively.

Can any survey company become a member of TSA? The answer to this NO. Any company applying for membership has to provide substantial trade and professional references. It is also a requirement of membership that the applicant company must have been trading for at least three years with sound supporting evidence of financial stability. The final requirement for membership is the examination of recent projects by at least three members of TSA Council, all professional surveyors, and an assessment visit by the secretary general of the association.

What guarantees does TSA provide in respect of its members and their performance? After a company has been admitted into membership, there is still an ongoing annual assessment, particularly of the member’s financial standing. TSA has a complaints procedure to address any complaints about a member company. However it is fair to say that in the twenty six years since the formation of TSA, the number of complaints can be counted on the fingers of one hand - an indication of the quality of the companies with TSA membership!

What does TSA do for its clients and its members? TSA offers a number of members’ services and operates a very active website. It produces an annual directory and regular newsletter, four thousand of which are despatched regularly. Information leaflets on specialist surveying applications are available also. If you are interested in any of these, you can sign up for them on TSA’s website at www.tsa-uk.org.uk

So, if you want to ensure that your project goes without a hitch and gets off on the right foot, engage a TSA member and get it right from the start.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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