UTFacultiesEEMCSDisciplines & departmentsPSEducationimproved automation and digitalisation

improved automation and digitalisation

Towards a new process for fieldwork on soil and subsoil

Saxion, research group on soil and subsurface, works with consultancy and engineering firm Antea Group and research group Mechatronics on the development process 'Field Engineer 3.0'. In this we look at how the current fieldwork at soil and subsoil can be revised using new insights and technologies. This memo describes two student assignments to take the next step here.

Objective of the process
In the Field Engineer project we work towards an automated fieldwork process for the execution, assessment and reporting of environmental, geophysical and archaeological soil research. We do this in order to make this process more efficient, to absorb the outflow of experienced drill masters and to add new value to this fieldwork process.


Figure 1: Example of a process development fieldwork Antea Group by Saxion students

In this process, we distinguish three coherent perspectives:

  1. Chain optimization – the business angle for process optimization. For the time being, we assume a chain that starts with 'the need for a client to carry out environmental, archaeological and/or geotechnical (field) research to enable construction in the physical living environment', and which ends with 'delivering the result of this field research for decision-making on this building'.
  2. Technological perspective – the use of innovative techniques (automation, digitisation and a.i.) in the existing chain.
  3. Knowledge and skills: preservation and development of explicit and implicit knowledge, impact on desired skills and knowledge of the professionals involved.

A number of things are important: 

  1. We consider the fieldwork to be a process chain in which the various parts must jointly lead to an optimally functioning chain. In addition, optimization of one part of the chain can lead to suboptimal functioning of the entire chain. Figure 1 gives an example of such a chain.
  2. We consider development at two mutually reinforcing levels:
    1. An integral redesign of the chain from 'need for (field) research up to and including delivering results/advice', with which new working methods and values can be created in the work process.
    2. The development and integration of specific (innovative) working methods and technologies, which are part of this integral redesign and/or can improve the current process in specific areas. In this we work together with  Antea Group, Lectoraat Mechatronica and University of Twente Department of Pervasive Systems.

Student assignment: Analysis and redesign of the current process

In this assignment, students (graduates, internship, SSS-Saxion, bachelor-master UT) develop promising techniques for the automation and digitization of the current process. These techniques should focus both on the entire process, on the parts of the process and on the use of knowledge and skills of fieldworkers in it. On the basis of an initial inventory, the group/student elaborates a number of  technologies concretely on feasibility.



Theory                 : 40%

Experiments        : 40%

Writing                 : 20%



UT supervisor: Le Viet Duc (v.d.le@utwente.nl)

Saxion supervisor: Roeland Emaus: r.emaus@saxion.nl

Problem Statement: 

This assignment is part of the project “Expressure” which measures the pressure on human feet using “smart socks”, for medical research. The “smart sock” prototype is the outcome of our work-package, mainly which consists of an Arduino-Nano and a matrix pressure sensor. It needs to collect 70 sensor-readings per-foot data in real-time at a frequency of 100HZ. These data then needs to be transmitted through BLE to servers (laptop/phone). The prototype and corresponding software are almost finished, but one of the problems is that the BLE transmission speed becomes a bottleneck, which is slower than the sampling rate.


Students are expected to increase the transmission speed through either data compression or pre-processing algorithms. A research on sensor data compression and pre-processing techniques are firstly suggested. Subsequently, students can implement their algorithms on the device for evaluation.

Several factors can be considered when addressing this problem:\

  1. Part of human feet may not touch or touch softly on the ground when standing or walking, so that not all 70 sensor give information, many readings could just be zero.
  2. When people are standing or sitting still, the readings are quite static.

Students need only to program and test the algorithm on Arduino, others such as the sensor/hardware/server are already prepared.


40% Theory, 30% Programming, 30% Writing


Wei Wang (W.Wang-1@utwente.nl)