Product innovation in the surveying sector is continuing apace, with a focus on speeding up the surveying and construction process, as well as making the products themselves more rugged and durable.
Sokkia, for example, has introduced the Series 50RX Reflectorless Total Stations, featuring what it describes as unprecedented environmental durability, increased speed and expanded functionality. A high temperature version has been added for use in hot climates or conditions up to 60° C without compromising the lowest operating temperature of -20° C.
Low temperature models are also available for use in -30° to +50° C. Using a built-in temperature sensor, all models automatically maintain optimal contrast and visibility of the LCD display, and adherence to the IP66 ingress protection rating means the unit is sealed against dust, sand, mud and heavy rain, according to product manager Mitsutaka Kagata. "In combination with wide temperature ranges, the Series 50RX provides the unprecedented environmental durability for the total stations," he said.
Reflectorless measurement range is extended to 400m and variation of measurement time due to different ranges and object types are reduced by -30%. "When reflectorless measurement is not possible, the operator is informed in under 5 seconds, speeding up overall survey time," said Mr Kagata.
Sokkia has also released its new Series 50X Total Stations, featuring increased measurement range and speed as well as a number of new features. The new series extends measurement range to 4000 m with a single prism and up to 5000 m with three prisms, representing a +20% increase over previous models while reducing the measurement time by -40%, according to the company.
"The Series 50X incorporates five measurement signals with the highest modulation frequency of 75MHz," said Aart Bakker, sales manager survey products. "In conjunction with the advanced digital signal processing technology that is also used in our reflectorless total stations, the new EDM significantly increases distance measurement capability and dependability under all environmental conditions."
The 2" model is newly equipped with the Independent Angle Calibration System to further increase measurement stability. "The extremely simplified angle encoder system consists of a minimum number of optical and mechanical parts," said Mr Bakker. "It also features innovative technology to automatically detect and correct misreading of encoder patterns."
Other features include the IP66 rating to keep out dust, sand, mud, snow, dripping water and driving rain, as well as a built-in Bluetooth module option for wireless communication with a data collector and password protection to prevent unauthorised use.
Sokkia has also replaced its previous line-up of its B and C series with a new B series automatic levels - B20, B30 and B40.
"The new series automatic levels feature further enhanced reliability under all environmental conditions," said Ian Stilgoe, geomatics business unit manager. "Tough and compact bodies are fully resistant to driving rain and splashing water from all directions and the advanced protection technology also prevents the telescope from fogging or condensing without using nitrogen gas. The optimally designed telescope provides an exceptionally bright and sharp view that reduces operator eye strain and an ultra-short focus distance of 200 mm from the end of the telescope is a definite advantage for use in confined locations."
The transfer of data between the office and the construction site is one important area that manufacturers in the surveying sector are increasingly focusing on. Leica Geosystems new Leica Zeno GIS products are targeting the data collection market, providing a one-click automated workflow between the field and the office.
The Zeno 10 provides a colour graphic display in portrait format and a numeric keyboard, while the larger Leica Zeno 15 has a full QWERTY keyboard and a display in landscape format. "Dual-constellation tracking guarantees higher productivity with more satellites available, in particular in urban canyons and where tree canopy blocks the number of visible GPS satellites," said a spokesman.
Trimble, meanwhile, has developed Trimble Construction Manager version 2.5, a piece of software for remote construction management, offering polygon site management and enhanced support for CAD map overlays with imagery provided by Google Maps.
Using GPS technology, wireless communication and the Internet, Trimble said Construction Manager supplies quantitative information to analyse and improve productivity and overall construction operations, saving time and eliminating unnecessary project costs.
"A variety of easy to interpret charts, reports and dashboard views provide information needed to analyse and evaluate construction operations and take action in real time," said a company spokesman.
"With Trimble Construction Manager 2.5 users have the ability to create an unlimited number of multi-sided polygon sites for managing equipment site entries and exits as well as on-site machine utilisation and productivity reporting. For complex worksites, such as road construction and quarries, Trimble Construction Manager can produce site reports that allow for more accurate job coding and time-on-site data. The polygon site creation tools allow users to easily trace roads, rivers and property boundaries to define site perimeters."
Speed is of the essence as far as Topcon is concerned. The company says its new 3DMC2 machine control system can increase dozer speed for grading up to +200%, and Ray O'Connor, Topcon president, describes the 3DMC2 as "tearing down the last barrier in regard to job site productivity - speed. With Topcon's GPS-GLONASS technology, productivity was dramatically increased due to precise positioning and accuracy," he added. "With 3DMC2 increasing a dozer's operating speed there's yet additional savings in time and money on every job."
"This new addition to the Topcon family of machine control products will drastically change the role of the dozer operation on a typical job site," added Achiel Sturm, TEP Construction business manager. "As the speed increases, we can do more work in less time. That means less operating time, less fuel, less wear on a machine and most importantly, more time that can be spent on other work in other areas. Increasing the speed of a dozer is a no-brainer when it comes to productivity. With hits system you can simply make a pass faster."
Topcon has also introduced its new laser scanner, the GLS-1500, which speeds up point cloud collection in an all in one design to reduce the amount of equipment needed in the field.
"The GLS-1500 is designed to provide quick and hassle free setups to save time and improve productivity," said Ian Stilgoe, Geomatics business unit manager. "Portability, accuracy and dependability are key customer needs. The GLS-1500 delivers all that in an easy to use, all on board, one-person instrument that saves on time and labour costs."
Featuring on-board control, PC control, high quality co-axially aligned imaged and scan data, the GLS-1500 is ten times faster than the previous model, said Mr Stilgoe, and is robust and field ready, capable of running in the harshest conditions.
A common thread with both the latest surveying instruments and the software that accompanies them is that there is a greater emphasis on making them easy and efficient to use. This should help eliminate errors and speed up work, but it also means contractors can do more surveying and laying-out work themselves, rather than having to spend extra time and money on surveyors.