Established electrical & communications contractor Stowe Australia is saving time and increasing accuracy for asset location using Topcon GNSS.
With a history that dates back to the advent of the electrical industry in this country, Stowe Australia was established in 1910 and is now a 1,800-employee strong, privately owned electrical and communications contractor with offices throughout the East coast.
Recently, the company’s Western Division (Penrith branch) invested in GNSS technology to improve accuracy for as-built asset location. Using a Topcon HiPer SR integrated GNSS receiver, complete with a Panasonic Toughbook field controller and MAGNET Field on-board software, Stowe’s electricians and civil workers are able to capture the as-built location data in the field for the team’s civil engineers to import into CAD drawings in the office.
Infrastructure Manager Brad O’Hara explained that bringing the work in-house helped to save time and increase efficiency: “Before purchasing our own GPS equipment, we would manually measure out the locations using tape measures based on boundary plans provided by surveyors,” he said.
“Alternatively, we would leave conduit in open trenches and book surveyors in to take the measurements and go back on site to finish the job afterwards. By taking the measurements ourselves we can save a lot of time and eliminate the rework.”
Mr O’Hara said that clients increasingly require higher accuracy for asset location, with a new tolerance level of 10 millimetres becoming commonplace. “It was important for us to find a reliable, easy-to-use solution that could deliver the required tolerances,” he said.
When asked how he came to choose the Topcon system, Mr O’Hara said: “I looked into a couple of cheaper brands but was unsure about the level of support we’d receive. I know the Topcon brand having used their laser levels in the past and knew that we would receive local support from Topcon’s distributor, Position Partners.”
Topcon’s HiPer SR is a compact, cable and antenna-free GNSS receiver that includes a built-in, patented Fence Antenna™ for advanced multipath rejection and precision measurements.
The Panasonic FZ-G1 toughpad is built to withstand the elements, with a 7-inch, easy-to-see touchscreen and Windows 8 operating system. Using MAGNET Field on-board software, Stowe employees are able to collect measurement points quickly and easily for use in CAD drawings back in the office.
To ensure the company was up and running with the new system as quickly as possible, a group of Stowe employees attended a one-day Campus training course at Position Partners’ Sydney training facility.
“The group included electrical engineers, project managers, electricians and civil works personnel,” Mr O’Hara said. “We wanted a range of employees to attend so they could understand how the system works and learn how to integrate it into their different workflows.”
The Topo Survey & Setout course is designed to take entry-level MAGNET Field users with little or no experience and have them become competent users of the software. The training covers basic, daily survey tasks such as data management, equipment setup, software configuration and customisation, feature surveys and set-out.
“We found the training day to be really valuable and although it’s still early days for us using the new equipment, so far it has been straightforward and easy to use,” Mr O’Hara said.
“It is good to know that if we do run into any difficulty, we have the backup support of Position Partners when we need it.”