A Note from the President’s Desk – July 2018

July 17th, 2018
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Choice in the Survey and Civil Engineering Industries

The consolidation in our industry has accelerated over the years, reducing competition and choice. Considering just robotic total station companies, you once had the choice of Geodimeter (Sweden), Zeiss (Germany), Topcon (Japan), Sokkia (Japan), Trimble (US) and Leica (Switzerland, owned by Hexagon based in Sweden). Geodimeter and Zeiss are now consolidated inside Trimble, and Topcon purchased Sokkia, leaving only Trimble, Hexagon and Topcon. Even Nikon (Japan), which never produced a robotic total station, is now part of Trimble.

Consolidation is hitting GNSS. Ashtech, a leading manufacturer, has been acquired by Trimble. NovAtel is now part of Hexagon. Even Hemisphere, once a Canadian GNSS company, has been purchased by Unistrong in China. The new entrants in GNSS are mostly Chinese companies. In a consolidated industry, single individuals impact multiple product lines. Javad Ashjaee emerged out of Trimble to create Ashtech, then later created Javad Positioning Systems which was acquired by Topcon, then emerged again out of Topcon to create JAVAD GNSS. His code and ideas have influenced GNSS solutions in 4 different companies (at least)!

Consolidation is most pronounced in the area of software. Hexagon recently acquired Agtek after earlier purchasing MicroSurvey. Eagle Point aligned with Autodesk and others as a service provider and mostly disappeared as a software company. (Eleven ex-Eagle Point employees work for Carlson today.) TDS was bought by Trimble. Softdesk was purchased by Autodesk, providing Autodesk access to the civil engineering market. Bentley acquired Caice, Inroads and Geopak as well as Site-Ops. For our part, we acquired C&G in 2001 and Simplicity in 2002. Even in the area of accident reconstruction, Faro (lasers) picked up the Crash Zone/Crime Zone products as well as ARAS360. All the larger independents in the U.S. market are basically gone except one: Carlson Software.

Choice is good. Alternative solutions benefit markets. Look at the 5-tab, 2-column menu system of Carlson SurvCE. It naturally reduces keystrokes as you have 10 menu choices in related tab selections (like Equip), but ANY of the 50 options are just 2 taps away (the tab, then the menu option).

Carlson SurvCE’s Main Menu

You’ll see this layout style in several other packages, but it started with Carlson in 2001. Independent companies create, innovate and offer choice. Because Carlson entered data collection from a 20-year base in CAD, Carlson was also the first to offer full CAD-like features (Trim, Extend, Offset, snap) in the “Map” screen, accessed by the globe icon in the upper right.

Setup for hybrid surveying

With the new release of SurvCE 6.0, Carlson continues to innovate in the emerging field of hybrid surveying. The hybrid term refers to using GNSS and total stations at the same time through the new Hybrid+ module. You mount your GNSS unit above the prism on the same pole. The robotic total station then follows the prism, but if the prism goes behind a tree or obstruction, the total station can continue to track based on the GNSS position. Alternately, if you are focused on GNSS measurements but go to float, the robot and prism can take over. This happens seamlessly, based on your selected data collection mode and the field conditions involved. Your survey productivity in stakeout and point storing will go up with the new dual measurement routines. You can resection your occupied point from anywhere you have satellites! With GNSS and prism on the pole, light weight is important. From our research, two of the lightest units for combined GNSS and robotic total station surveying are the Javad GNSS Triumph-2 and Septentrio NR3, both included in our extensive driver library.

Note GNSS override in red—click tracking icon near upper right to restore total station tracking

SurvPC 6.0, running on the Carlson RT3 tablet, even brings “voice” to the field. As you stakeout, don’t even look at your screen. Let it “talk you in”. You can study the screen and see “Left 0.12, Out 0.03” but you will hear “Left Zero Point One Two, Out Zero Point Zero Three.” Move and mark the point. Again, your field work is accomplished faster than ever.

Competition promotes innovation. Carlson Software is committed to staying independent and serving the needs of the survey, civil engineering, mining, construction, machine control and accident reconstruction markets. You will see many new products from Carlson Software in the next few years: innovations in both hardware and software. More on that next month!

Bruce Carlson, PE

President, Carlson Software

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