The following article first appeared in The American Surveyor Magazine , April 2013
While the concept of using GIS to accurately identify and map physical assets is widely accepted in cities, towns and municipalities throughout the country, that approach has not yet found the same level of broad acceptance within private industry. Perhaps because of a misplaced perception that it is far too costly or complex an undertaking, corporations have been less eager to employ this GPS-based approach to asset management. However, some, like Midland, MI-headquartered Dow Corning Corporation, have discovered the benefits a comprehensive GIS audit can provide. For them, not only is it providing a much-needed alternative to an outdated paper map system, it is opening up the possibility for a wealth of additional uses throughout the organization.
Mammoth in Midland
One of the largest employers in Midland, Dow Corning was founded nearly 70 years ago to advance the science of siliconbased materials. Today the company’s sprawling Midland manufacturing site is the oldest and one of the most complex silicone manufacturing facilities in the world, employing more than 1,200 people to create the more than 2,500 products it sells worldwide.
"This is the original site at which Dow Corning began back in 1943, though it has grown significantly since that time," according to John Keyes, P.E., civil engineer for the company’s Energy & Infrastructure Department. "Today, the Midland facility encompasses dozens of city blocks of manufacturing infrastructure–items such as buildings, utilities, piping, and so on–all of are currently only recorded on outdated paper maps. Though functional, the lack of any real locational accuracy increases the risk of problems in areas such as emergency response and onsite construction work. Left unchanged, it would continue to do so."
A 415Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE