The Technology Roadshow continued its steady roll around North America building on Topcon’s Intersection of Infrastructure and Technology message. Along the 28-city tour, the traveling trailer stopped for several days in beautiful Pleasanton, California, just down the road from Topcon Positioning Systems’ headquarters in Livermore.
From the start, this four-day event, hosted by RDO Integrated Controls, Engineering Supply, Papé Machinery and 5D Solutions, provided attendees with a little extra insight into the potential of technology-enabled construction in infrastructure.
Live and hands-on demonstrations of solutions at work—including the flight of the Topcon-customized Intel Falcon 8+ System—linked beautifully with the anticipated Infrastructure and Technology Summit, a panel discussion with several industry and academia specialists about technology’s role in meeting infrastructure needs.
Summarizing the Summit
“We put more technology on a bulldozer than a 747 jet.” That’s just one of the Infrastructure and Technology Summit opening remarks from Ray O’Connor, President and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems, who set the stage for the panel discussion. He also pointed to the “amazing developments that are allowing us to do things that were impossible 5-10 years ago.”
He and the Summit panel members all agreed that the revolutionary advances in technologies currently making their way into construction workflow will help shrink the infrastructure investment gap.
The Infrastructure and Technology Summit, moderated by Iris Tommelein, Professor of Engineering and Project Management at University of California, Berkeley, included panel guests: Kate Fox Wood, Director of Infrastructure Policy for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Cindy Ng, Director of UAV Marketing at Intel; Kristen Sylva, Construction Marketing Manager at Autodesk; and Brock Grunt, Executive Vice President of Operations at McGuire and Hester, one of the Bay Area’s top general contractors.
Tommelein noted in her introductory remarks that we all recognize the many infrastructure challenges in today’s environment, and, “we are in a fortunate situation that technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Our job is to leverage what’s available and think ahead for what we can do tomorrow.”
The panelists pointed to enabling technologies such as AR/VR, UAVs and predictive analytics as important components of an increasingly digital jobsite. Autodesk’s Sylva added that it’s essential to provide a seamless connection for all the data gathered throughout the design, construction and fabrication workflow. She said, “Data—from bid documents to drone data—is too often kept in different silos on a project. It’s important that project teams have a way to see and make use of all of that data as needed.”
That’s begun to happen. For instance, a surveyor using Topcon’s MAGNET software to visualize and analyze data from the field can share that data through a direct connection with Autodesk BIM360 platform.
Sylva added, “Construction is like a well-choreographed dance—and technology should enhance that dance. Project teams must have a common data platform to move from conceptual design to build and commissioning and handover. The next step is the evolution of machine learning, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence in construction to make jobsites safer and more efficient. We’re getting there.”
The Summit provided a perfect segue to the outdoor Roadshow activities. Topcon’s O’Connor noted that the Roadshow is purposely organized as an active demonstration with hands-on opportunities to test technologies on machines in the field. He challenged the attendees to watch, ask questions and jump in a cab, adding, “We’re seeing a major revolution in the construction industry taking place. The manufacturing industry is producing products today cheaper than a year ago because of technology. Why can’t we apply that to our industry?”
Here’s a few ways that Topcon and its partners are finding ways to help contractors seamlessly connect technology and infrastructure.
One of the biggest highlights of the Pleasanton Roadshow was the proven Topcon Elite Survey Suite, a completely integrated hybrid positioning solution that reflects Topcon’s goal to ensure cross-platform data connectivity from field to office. The Suite includes the GT series of robotic total station, the multi-purpose HiPer HR hybrid GNSS receiver, FC-5000 field computer and MAGNET software system.
The GT series robotic total stations were particularly popular with surveyors and engineers at the show because of its flexibility. At just 1.172 grams, this compact, rugged and waterproof system includes integrated cellular, LongLink and radio communications, internal Wi-Fi and a multi-spectrum Bluetooth, a next generation antenna and revolutionary 9-axis IMU. The GT series robots also incorporate fast, 180-degree-per-second UltraSonic motors—the fastest on the market.
W. Scott Langbein, Director of Marketing Strategy for Topcon Positioning Group confirmed, “The GT series is a cross-industry solution built to support surveying and machine control and layout applications.”
Building New Roads
Like other Roadshows, Topcon experts gave attendees an inside look at the SmoothRide Modern Road Resurfacing System.
The integrated technology solution includes the RD-M1 Road Resurfacing Scanner (data gathering), Mobile Master Office software (surface design), MAGNET Office Site (smoothness/thickness) and GNSS-guided paving and milling machines.
The road resurfacing scanner, in particular, captured the attention of many attendees. The RD-M1 scanner is equipped with a HiPer SR GNSS receiver and IMU with a downward facing LiDAR capable of scan rates up to 100 times per second. Combined, the system collects millions of highly accurate points while driving at normal highway speeds.
The subsequent point cloud then becomes the basis for design and 3D machine-controlled paving/milling operations with the rest of the SmoothRide integrated solutions.
A Roadshow Near You
The Topcon Technology Roadshow continues across North America through October 2018. All events are free and include lunch!
A few of the near-term Roadshow stops in North America include: Kent, Washington (June 5-6), Regina, Saskatchewan (June 26-27); Bismarck, North Dakota (July 10-11) and Denver, Colorado (July 17-18).