Trimble’s New All-in-One Scanning Total Station – The SX10

They’re calling it a game-changer – the SX10 is a new scanning total station that combines super-fast 3D laser scanning, high resolution imagery and extremely accurate survey positioning into one device.

Released on October 6, 2016, this new all-in-one technology scanning total station for surveyors has the potential to cut workflow times in half or better, according to Steaphan MacAulay, vice president of geomatics for WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff’s mining and industrial sector in Canada.

“We can take a traditional eight-day job in the Fort McMurray region, where they’re drilling for samples to determine depths and all that, down to about three hours,” MacAulay said in an interview featuring a preview of the new scanning total station in Westminster, Colo. on Tuesday. “So the efficiency gains are almost immeasurable. They’re off the charts.”
WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering, consulting and professional services company, helped beta-test the scanning total station this year, developed by geospatial technology and hardware company Trimble. About a dozen different companies took the instrument for a spin starting in February, testing it with a huge range of applications and in locations across the globe, from the U.S. to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France, Germany and Sweden.

Trimble’s new surveying and scanning instrument, the SX10, removes much of the need for time-consuming data cleansing and manual transfer, letting surveyors get straight to work with their data creating deliverables for customers. The beta testing this year helped fine-tune details such as touch screen navigation for directional and turning functionality. The precision technology also enables more specific data capture options with a patented rotating deflection prism that allows double action laser scanning.

MacAulay recalled one job that his team used the SX10 to survey a 450-meter railway bridge.

“We had a boat to use to get out onto this sandbar, and we transferred a control point out there,” he said. “The total time it took, including the time monkeying around with the boat, we might have spent an hour and we had the whole abutment scanned. The client was blown away. They said, ‘How’d you do this that fast?’ They were extremely impressed.”

Without the SX10, MacAulay said that the job would have taken a full day to set up the crew in different locations.

“It would have been a couple thousand dollars at least. This is less risk, less exposure to the staff,” he said.

Surveyors are diversifying to meet market demands, as businesses are becoming more commodity-based, and many surveyors are looking to specialize. Ron Bisio, vice president of Trimble’s surveying and geospatial division, said that the SX10 was developed with that in mind. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) scanning and mapping just doesn’t offer the level of accuracy that many surveyors want, down to the millimeter.

Trimble made one potentially controversial choice in developing this instrument: they got rid of the eyepiece. Instead, the SX10’s data points and imagery are viewable in real time on a PC tablet. Changing a workflow with new equipment requirements can be a hard sell – but that’s one of the points that Trimble insists is much less different than surveyors will expect.

“Surveyors saying, ‘This is the way we do things’ and they don’t want to change,” said Todd Steiner, Trimble’s marketing director of Imaging and Optics in the Geospatial Division. “Well, this works the way they do things. We say that this solution is going to transform the way surveyors work, without requiring them to change the way they work. If you know how to do backsights, you know how to use this,” he said.

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