The Benefits of Bespoke Geotechnical and Structural Monitoring Systems

No two assets or monitoring projects are the same, so why select off-the-shelf monitoring systems to deliver the data and insight required to inform vital decision making on your next project? 

An off-the-shelf system might appear to be simple, cheap and available with a short lead time but, in our experience, some 80% of monitoring problems result from unsuitable instrumentation selection and system design, poor installation, or misinterpretation of data. Selecting the right instrumentation and monitoring system for your project’s precise needs is of critical importance. You can ensure this by working with a provider who can provide expert monitoring knowledge throughout the design, installation and operational phase of a monitoring campaign.

Nick Slater, monitoring services director for SOCOTEC Monitoring, discusses the benefits of bespoke geotechnical and structural monitoring systems vs the risks of using a monitoring system off-the-shelf.


Potential issues with off-the-shelf

Off-the-shelf monitoring systems might initially appear to ‘answer the question’ but, without an in-depth consultation period, they might fail to provide the correct data with sufficient accuracy or at a rate which delivers most benefit to the client.

On a safety critical project, for example, it is essential that the lag time from measuring a change on site to the data being received, processed and visualised is as short as possible. Other problems include being unable to send data back to the client from a remote location due to lack of a mobile phone network, or even theft and vandalism if thought isn’t given to disguising the system.


Fit for purpose

Through early consultation during the design stage, we are able to create monitoring schemes which are entirely fit-for-purpose. For example, we’ve been working with a port on an asset monitoring project and, due to the corrosive coastal environment, all sensors and fixings had to be fabricated from marine grade stainless steel to ensure they can withstand long term exposure to sea water.

Working closely with our clients to create bespoke schemes ensures that the correct data is gathered to answer their precise questions in the required timeframe. This maximises the value of the data being gathered and minimises risk to people and assets throughout construction projects, providing early warnings to stakeholders of any movements of assets which threaten project timescales or budgets.

When working with a client on a geotechnical or structural monitoring project, SOCOTEC Monitoring works through the following process in great detail, to ensure that the resulting system delivers on your objectives:



Our experience has shown that this is the most important phase of a monitoring campaign, so we really take the time to fully understand your objectives, the questions which need to be answered, the issues that need to be resolved and the level of support you require. It is vital that factors such as ground conditions, infrastructure type, scheduling and instrumentation options are taken into account prior to the commencement of a monitoring project.

Our engineers then work collaboratively with you to design a fully integrated bespoke monitoring solution that is tailored to your exact requirements and budget. As we work with a broad range of supply chain partners, and are continually testing new sensors and systems, we have the knowledge and flexibility to propose exactly the right sensors and solution for each monitoring project.


Monitoring Design Plan

Drawing on our technical expertise, we offer our recommendations and provide you with a monitoring system design plan and estimate of costs.

We consider every aspect of your project, including:

  • available power supply and remote communications
  • cabling specifications and routing
  • sensor range, accuracy and sampling intervals
  • frequency of maintenance visits
  • likelihood of vandalism or theft
  • installation methods (is rope access required or special permits)
  • environmental issues

Following consultation with your team, we draw up an installation programme and completion date. We’ll also explain in detail exactly what our equipment does and why we are specifying it. This in-depth consultation period enables us to provide a cost-effective and fit for purpose instrumentation and data visualisation solution. 


Set-up and Installation

We set up the project and complete rigorous in-house testing and instrumentation configuration to ensure your system operates to the highest possible standard first time, potentially saving both time and money during on-site installation. We back this up with further testing once all equipment is in place on-site.



We deliver a detailed handover report to you and familiarise your project team with the system, including training on our proprietary data visualisation platform, Calyx OMS.


Ongoing monitoring and ‘ActiveSupport’

By proactively monitoring your data delivery and providing system performance testing, incident support and ongoing maintenance, we can identify and analyse any issues before they become a serious – and potentially costly – problem. It’s all part of the service.

If you would like more information or advice about the best bespoke monitoring system for your next project, please call SOCOTEC Monitoring on 01825 701801 or get in touch via the contact form.



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