AllyCAD Showcase

"Creative Control in Survey"

MHP Geomatics, KZN

THE path that led Imraan Mohammed to the doors of MHP Geomatics as a CAD draughtsman in the company's surveying office was an unlikely one that began as a student studying hardware and software support. Five years later, his advanced computer knowledge led him to the doors of MHP Geomatics in 1998 where his exposure to AllyCAD sparked an immediate interest which subsequently led him to cement his position in the company. Today, Imraan is involved in a broad range of challenging designs and has come to appreciate all aspects of surveying ranging from Cadastral, Sectional Title, Engineering Topographical, Photogrammetric, Hydrographic and Industrial Surveys.

"The 'behind-the-scenes' work in the surveying office is where it all comes together. We receive the information from the surveyor and from cadastral data and have to create an accurate representation in the finished design. This often requires a great deal of creativity and we are fortunate to be able to rely on the vast experience of the surveyor who regularly checks data on site," he explains. Imraan is one of two CAD draughtsmen with another two draughtspersons based at the regional offices. The organization also has a combined professional and technical experience of 168 and 142 years respectively with a total staff complement of 70 employees nationally.

Examples of the type of projects that Imraan is involved in include township planning and the drawing and office layout of tache drawings. "I like the fact that you can import aerial photography into AllyCAD as this helps with Sheet File creation. We also design urban development roads by making use of aerial and road photography which makes our lives as designers a lot easier. One of our biggest challenges and where our creativity gets tested to the full is when you have to produce a completed design without ever having been on site. This is when you realize that there is no substitute for experience and that you have to see the data through the surveyor's eyes."

Challenging projects that were less than straightforward included the Tamakwa Township comprising of approximately 50 erven. "In this case, we often had to provide corrections to the existing township layout and had to check whether the road ran parallel or if there were sufficient services in place. We created designs from the town planning records in order to produce the General and Working plan documents. As a team, we also use AllyCAD at the start of all our projects and continue using the program right through to completion. I am a personal fan of the Surveyor Toolkit as it has made my life in the production of General Plans and SG Diagrams a lot easier," he says emphatically.

Imraan's role at MHP Geomatics provides regular interaction with civil engineers, architects, surveyors and also clients. A multidisciplinary project which has required interaction across all these stakeholders is the Royal Palm Estate which was requested about five years ago. Once complete, the development will span a total of around 1500 hectares with the first phase consisting of three separate elements.
  Future phases of the project will also include a broad range of residential, commercial, retail and hospitality options. "We received the tender to do the surveying work for the project and found the detailed design to be extremely challenging. The numerous changes to the application plan meant that the design was tweaked several times. It is likely that the project will keep our office busy for at least another five years."

According to Imraan, a typical day in the design office is never the same on any given day. A regular routine could include snapping co-ordinates and then importing these into the correct format for the surveyor. The surveyor then has to trace the beams on these points so that the co-ordinate list can be updated for the final preparation of the drawings. From here consolidated diagrams, General Plans, Working Plans and Application Plans can be prepared. "No two projects are ever the same and each task differs from the next in terms of scope and complexity. There is also a zero margin of error tolerated as the quality and design standards are exceptionally high," explains Imraan.

When asked about the most challenging project to date, Imraan replies without hesitation, "the Bushman's Nek initiative". "Bushman's Nek marks the end of the Giant's Cup Hiking Trail, a 68 km path that passes through indigenous forest and mountain grassland with steep slopes that became a nightmare for the surveyors. Fortunately we made use of aerial photography to design the road and there was a lot of interaction between the design office and the surveying team."

Despite the numerous challenges, Imraan enjoys the varied nature and the element of creative control that the designers get to exercise in delivering the finished project. "In many cases, the surveyors are our eyes, but we get to take the rough data and provide the visual result in an accurate format. This is a challenge, but it is also extremely rewarding. My only advice to any aspiring surveyor draughtsperson is to develop a strong Maths and Geography acumen as this will stand you in good stead when joining the industry. The second thing is to know AllyCAD inside out as the program knows no limits."

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