Ryschon praises the compatibility of Terramodel with AutoCAD files received from outside engineering firms. “Whenever we get a job, typically there is always an engineer who designs that job,” he notes. The electronic files the engineers create when designing the project are then shared with Paul Reed Construction. “That’s the beauty of Terramodel — it will take whatever format the engineer designed the project in and allow you to work in your own format.
“We have been real fortunate,” Ryschon adds. “Every job we ever bid on, except for one, we have been able to get the AutoCAD design files. Then we just dump them into Terramodel. We pick the layer we need, like the finish grade layer, and we create out cards off of that.”
So there are several options for dealing with the electronic files necessary to run automated grade control systems. Depending on your comfort level with the software technology and the resources at your disposal, outsourcing or creating in-house models are both valid solutions.
Controversy Over Electronic Data Access
Most of the time, design firms are willing to share their electronic data with contractors building the project. However, dealing with electronic data still poses a hurdle to some contractors, says Fred Rogers, Leica Geosystems. Many contractors face a challenge acquiring the digital data necessary to build these models from the engineering firm.
According to Ben Ryschon, Paul Reed Construction has run into such a problem. One excuse has been due to insurance concerns. “They say that they are liable,” he notes.
But does it really make a difference if there was a mistake in the electronic data, or if it was on a printed set of plans? “You are still responsible to build a job as per planned on paper,” says Ryschon. “In the end, it is my responsibility to make the job come out as planned.”
If the design firm is unwilling to share the electronic data, that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own electronic models. “Most companies will give you coordinates for your control points,” says Ryschon. “I can do my site calibration and basically go back in and build the job in [the Trimble] Terramodel right off of the plan. Basically, it is doing what they have already done.”