Monday October 10, 2016 0 comments
By April Nowicki
BOULDER -- Trimble Geospatial division has released new technology it says will revolutionize the world that surveying, engineering and scanning professionals live and work in and help enhance Colorado’s reputation as a force in the tech world.
A special prism -- part of Trimble’s patented technology – is specifically made for use in total scanning stations sometimes seen being used by construction crews on the side of the road.
Total stations collect geospatial data to help make decisions about how to build buildings and roads, fix infrastructure, and many other applications. The prism rotates, enabling the capture of three-dimensional data.
“If you have a residential development in a coastal area, we need to know where you are, the boundaries, we need to know when high tide is, the coastal infrastructure that’s there,” said Ron Bisio, VP of Trimble's surveying and geospatial division.
“All those need to come together. We have to know everything about that area to help them with the construction process.”
Mapping, or surveying, the area is the first step to any construction project, Bisio said, and after almost eight-plus months of beta testing, the development team is pretty sure they have nailed it with the new scanning total station, the SX10.
Denver surveying, engineering and geomatics company Flatirons had an opportunity to beta test the instrument, and Kurt Ernstberger, Denver brand manager and scanning manager for Flatirons, said his team will definitely be buying one.
“We tested it out initially about four months ago on one large project we had,” Ernstberger said. “We used it exclusively for that project.
“Now, we’ve had it again for the last three weeks or so, because a project came up, and I specifically reached out to Trimble and said, ‘I need that.’”
Ernstberger said conventional surveying equipment can be extremely time-consuming, and this tool significantly shortened his team’s workflow time.
“I’ve been scanning for 10 years,” he said. “It takes a ton of time to get a nice scan into CAD (Computer Assisted Design) and get it working.”
Bisio said the SX10 technology combines three data measurement types: 3D laser scanning, high accuracy surveying (e.g., how many millimeters wide is that doorway?), and high-resolution photography.
Employees from beta test customer WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering, consulting and professional services company, were blown away by the results from the SX10 total station.
“We traversed around the office in Calgary, maybe an hour’s worth of scanning fighting with the rain, but they just couldn’t believe that as you traverse around, you’re getting registered data straight out of the gate,” said Steaphan MacAulay, VP of geomatics for WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff’s mining and industrial sector in Canada.
“It literally blew their minds.”
Usually, if a data collection process with a normal total station took an hour, MacAulay said it would then take his team around four hours to extract the data and process it into a useable form.
Trimble’s technology enabled efficiency improvements at a rate that’s off the charts, he said.
MacAulay noted he often prefers “old school” technology, using standard total stations with an eyepiece and the standard procedures for data capture and analysis.
Trimble’s SX10 total station eliminates the view-finder eyepiece in favor of real-time imagery on a connected tablet with specialized software that controls the total station, collects, aggregates and models the geospatial data.
“In 2014, they started talking about this,” MacAulay said. “They said, ‘Don’t get rid of that eyepiece.’ I’m one of them.”
In his experience, MacAulay said many surveyors are more tech-savvy than they let on. The tablet tracks what the machine scans in real time and allows surveyors the flexibility to walk around job sites rather than standing next to the total station.
A good portion of Trimble’s tech teams sit in the flagship office location in Westminster, just south of the tech-heavy Interlocken Loop between Denver and Boulder, and they collaborate with other departments around the globe.
“We do have 500 people here in Colorado,” said Todd Steiner, Trimble’s geospatial division marketing director. “I think we have a fairly significant footprint in Colorado, from a tech company standpoint.
“This building was opened two, maybe two and a half years ago. It was built entirely with Trimble technology, finished on time and under budget.”
The company focuses on versatility and flexibility – knowing the whole world doesn’t operate on Trimble technology.
“There are customers using Bentley and Autodesk, and they’re not going to change,” said Steiner.
“We have to understand that we’re the middleware and have to move that data on to another part of the process, and we’re trying to make that as seamless as possible for the customers.”
There are still applications where the SX10 won’t be able to replace the standard total station, but MacAulay said the fast turnaround it provides makes it worth it.
“Our clients are flat out saying, ‘You’ve gotta get faster,’” he said. “This makes you faster.”