KiwiRail has pioneered the use of digital shields for excavators working on, or near rail corridors.
Digital shields are made by creating a virtual twin of the physical environment, using a laser scanner. This survey technique collects millions of points of data, which are then used to build a 3D digital model. These models allow us to create digital shields a set distance from the position of the real-world objects. Once a shield is created, it is sent to a computer on board the excavator that is linked to a GPS unit. The system on the excavator knows where the machine is, and through a series of sensors, what shape it is, as well as where the shield sits. If the excavator comes into contact with the location of the digital shield, then a signal is sent to the hydraulic system and the controls are locked out, preventing the machine from coming too close to the real-world hazard.
It can be applied to underground pipes and cables, as well as above ground items. Alternatively, it can be used to protect newly constructed items, avoiding accidental damage and rework.435