As the demand for total stations in construction applications gained acceptance and were no longer considered only a survey tool, Leica Geosystems renamed its building construction-focused total stations the Builder Series, to reflect the user-friendly changes they made to make the machines easier to use and learn.
Reacting to the requests from concrete contractors for even simpler and more powerful systems to meet their needs, Leica recently launched its RedLine series. The RedLine series includes the "PowerTracker" robotic tracking total station (TPS) and the "PowerBox/PowerAntenna" GPS solutions. The RedLine system is unique in that both the TPS and GPS have a single button operation on the primary sensors.
"Contractors really appreciate the uncomplicated look and feel the RedLine provides," says Dan Dykhuis with Leica. "Regardless of their level of experience, operators are no longer intimidated when they view a total station for the first time. An initial level of comfort is very important when experiencing the benefits these systems."
Taking the plunge
Contractors looking into purchasing a layout system will find assistance through manufacturer dealer channels. Dealers offer demonstrations of the equipment and after-purchase support is available. Manufacturers also hold industry events such as the Topcon Roadshow or Trimble's Dimensions, which offer more in-depth education on the systems. A dealer can also help a contractor decide if a mechanical or robotic total station is right for his company.
"Robotic and mechanical systems both have their place in the market," Dykhuis explains. "The robotic systems are increasing in popularity as they allow just one person to perform the tasks that normally takes two. While this is a huge advantage on large jobsites where layout is complex and the cost of labor is high, there are still many smaller jobs where the mechanical version fits the bill for performance and budget."
A mechanical total station package will run a contractor between $6,500 and $10,000, while a robotic total station package can run anywhere between $25,000 and $40,000. Some contractors initially balk at the price, but when they discover the accuracy and speed they can achieve, the numbers start making sense. "I would say a contractor can do layout three to four times faster with a robotic system over the traditional way," Shawler says. "And the bigger, more complex a job the better the time savings."
Control on the job is also an important consideration that entices many contractors to start using these layout systems. "A construction site is a very rough environment ? there are machines moving around, materials being delivered, trash and junk being hauled off, and different forms being utilized all the time. One thing a superintendent will always know if he uses a total station, and for example our Pocket Layout software, is he will be able to go out if at any time he has a question about where something is and be able to check it without having to wait for someone to come and measure it for him," Killpack explains.
If you're a contractor who's thinking about incorporating new technologies into your business, or if you already use a total station and are looking to upgrade your equipment, the industry offers many new technologies that can help you gain efficiencies on the jobsite and put more money in your pocket.