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Australian construction firm McNab Constructions specialises in a wide range of building projects from residential to commercial developments, large and small.

Recently, the team working on a new 12,000-metre distribution centre in Yatala, south of Brisbane, opted to invest in construction set out technology to help save time, reduce overheads and deliver a more streamlined project.

Cadet Engineer Robert Dopking said they were recommended the Topcon LN-100 layout navigator tool by a subcontractor working on the project, who had purchased a system from Australian distributor Position Partners.

How do construction total stations work?

Topcon’s construction layout tools combine the precision measurements of a survey total station, with the ease of use of a laser level. Because the system uses digital plans to set out points with the use of an easy to use tablet, it eliminates the need to use stringlines and other less accurate methods.

“Here at McNab, we’re always looking for ways to increase the efficiency of the construction process,” Dopking said. “Finding new technology such as the Topcon LN-100 that can help us better our programs and better our productivity on site is always really beneficial to us as a business.”

One of the main benefits to using construction layout technology, Dopking explains, is the ability to minimise rework.

“It improves the accuracy of all our set out work on site, plus we can continually check work as we go instead of going back after something has already been poured or already set out,” he said.

Reduce costs by setting out points for all the building trades

Site foreman Colin added that having an on-site employee that can assist with set out work was beneficial at every stage of the project to date.

“It’s cost effective having someone on site that’s trained to use this technology rather than having to outsource the surveying for all set out work,” he said.

“We’ve been able to use it ourselves for getting accurate heights as well as all the sub-base prep and the CBR prep. Robbie’s been able to complete all the set out tasks for all the trades on site, accurately to design,” he added.

Mitch Laughlin from Position Partners clarified that the Topcon LN set out tools are not designed to replace the work done by engineering and land surveyors.

“This technology isn’t replacing how surveyors work on site,” he said. “The McNab team are still working with their surveyors to prepare all the data, install the survey control and compile all of their as-builts once the job’s complete.”

It does, however, free up both surveyors and the project team to work more efficiently and save on time, labour and materials, Laughlin said. “By eliminating the need to set out stringlines and wait for surveyors to check every stage after it’s built when there may be mistakes and rework involved, saves everyone on the project time and money.”

Eliminate rework and errors during construction

Laughlin explains that the Topcon set out system has built in technology that prevents errors during the set out process. “Just like any decent construction laser that won’t let you continue working if it’s been bumped out of level, Topcon’s LN series will not let you set out points inaccurately, so if you’re in the wrong place trying to put a mark where it shouldn’t be, it will throw up an error and prevent you stepping through to the next point.”

Dopking said one of the reasons McNab chose the Topcon construction total station over other brands was the support and training from Position Partners. “The support from Position Partners comes in the form of technical training as well as over the phone technical support,” he said.

“We also use Position Partners’ remote support tool Tokara, which enables their technicians to view what I’m seeing on the tablet so they can take control of the system and fix any errors that we might not be able to understand ourselves,” he added.

Support, training and technical expertise from Position Partners

Position Partners’ team includes a diverse skill set with engineers, surveyors and software programmers that can assist with a wide range of technical issues and training on site. Laughlin is a qualified surveyor with years of experience in engineering survey work.

“My surveying background helps me to understand the challenges that our customers face and the pressures of the job, as well as enabling me to give them technical training and the ability to use the technology confidently,” Laughlin said.

The team from the Yatala project is looking forward to bringing the technology to other builds. “In the future we hope to take this across a wide range of building projects here at McNab, from earthworks and civil projects through to industrial work and also high-rise construction jobs,” Dopking said.

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