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BIM and the Trimble Robotic Total Station for Today’s Contractors

Today’s contractor has to be versatile in order to survive. He has to be an expert in every area of construction—coordinating information from architects, engineers, and subcontractors and translating it into a single, federated model to detect and correct clashes before they become a reality on the jobsite. For over 20 years now, the total station has been the tool of choice used to bridge the gap between the building plan and the physical building site. Recent advancements in technology have given birth to the Robotic Total Station (RTS), a significant improvement over the older total station. In addition to using laser beams to accurately record distance measurements (both horizontal and vertical planes), layout points from CAD drawings can be loaded directly into the RTS making it a critical tool to ensure structures are erected in an exact location, taking property boundaries, utilities, and local regulations into account. Applications include:

·    Excavation Lines: Lay out all lines from one reference location with no string lines, transits or theodolites.

·    Checking Property Boundaries: Make minor adjustments to the building position as needed without waiting or paying subcontractor fees.

·    Concrete Forms and Anchor Bolts: Lay out complex concrete forms or anchor bolts from any location by referencing any two known points.

·    Set Control Lines: Lay out control lines for subcontractors faster and more accurately than with tapes and theodolites.

·    Control Points and Offset Hubs: Lay out control points and offset hubs faster and more cost-effectively.

·    As-Built Checks: Check the work of others and create documentation for change orders when necessary.

·    Topographical Measurements: Easily collect topographical data and import it into third-party software for elevation and cut and fill analysis.

Built for Construction

One of the advantages of RTS technology is wireless communication with the office. It’s no secret that building plans change constantly throughout a project’s life-cycle, and when change orders are issued, the updated AutoCAD drawings can be easily downloaded to the RTS, allowing the operator to quickly adjust data and positioning. So, if you’re looking for a true quality control tool that saves time, eliminates the potential for human error, and reduces rework, the RTS could be the tool for you.

The Learning Curve

A recent survey by the Brookings Institute shows that most Americans fear technology more than dying, mass shootings or ghosts. Interestingly enough, we see this everyday in the construction industry. When Trimble introduced its robotic total station with LM80 software, the perception by contractors was that it would require a sharp learning curve. However, the fears were unfounded, and once the contractor understood how to operate a robotic total station, not only was labor cost cut in half, but the time associated with training rod holders disappeared as well.

“I found the robotic total station easy to learn and easy to use. I attended a half-day course sponsored by a Trimble dealer and taught myself from that point on.”Neal Weiler, President, Weiler Walls, Inc.

A One Man Operation

While reduced labor costs and heightened accuracy are valid reasons to embrace RTS technology, the advantages don’t stop there. The older total stations required two workers: one to operate the total station and one to walk the site with the pole. With a robotic total station, no one needs to operate the RTS. One worker walks the site with the pole while the RTS is continually shooting. The RTS also has an exclusive feature called Surepoint that automatically corrects back to zero if the instrument wanders in the vertical — something the operators would normally do manually.

Beyond Layout

Trimble Field Link for structures is a powerful layout solution that features a seven-inch touch screen and operates on several software platforms. Using this configuration, a contractor can load a building model and view that model in 3-D. The user can click a dot on the screen to open a demarcated layout point and view various attributes of that specific point within the model. There’s also an option that can define and photograph a potential issue in the field, make a PDF of the problem, and attach it to a report that can be emailed to the architect or building owner. Trimble Field Link provide contractors with the tools they need to accomplish a wider array of tasks in the field.

Connecting BIM and digital layout is a win-win for any contractor, but when you add reduced labor costs and time savings, you have a guaranteed recipe for success. Could it get any better than that? Yes, it can. BuildingPoint Northeast is offering a substantial savings on select Robotic Total Stations through the end of February, 2018.

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