Connecting the dots
Australia’s civil construction industry is sophisticated and world-leading, with high adoption rates of the latest technology compared with other developed nations. That’s not to say that adoption is high, far from it, as construction remains a serial productivity underperformer and spends less than half the global manufacturing industry on automation.
That said, technology including machine control and state-of-the-art surveying tools such as GNSS, robotic total stations, 3D laser scanning and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) are commonplace on most major civil projects in this country.
The Australian market is unique in that it aligns more in accuracy requirements to European standards, yet sources the vast majority of its machinery from the United States. This throws up some anomalies when it comes to servicing the Australian industry with geospatial hardware and software that will meet project demands.
Exciting developments in software and telematics are helping to connect the various types of site technology and the different job roles that utilise them, enabling designers, engineers, project managers, foremen, surveyors, machine operators and other contractors to collaborate more than ever across the job.
The ability to tailor solutions to the local market is something Australian-owned geospatial solutions provider Position Partners says is key. “Suppliers that take a ‘one size fits all’ approach will fail to meet the specific needs of Australian construction, particularly when it comes to software and IT requirements,” said Harry Katsanevas, Machine Systems Business Manager.
“No two sites are the same and each job has a unique mix of machines and requirements, which means the IT and hardware needs to be customised to a varying degree to really deliver significant productivity gains,” he added.
“At Position Partners, we focus on sourcing and, if required, developing or tailoring solutions that will solve our customers’ project challenges. Often our role is to act as the conduit that gathers the different components of hardware and software required and connects them into a manageable and valuable solution.”
Position Partners has developed Tokara Link, a telematics platform that is developed locally to meet the Australian construction industry’s needs. Tokara enables remote connection from one or more computers to machine control systems, supervisor kits and survey rovers on site. With the ability to send design file updates instantly and simultaneously to all machines, provide remote support to the operator or update software without visiting the machine in person, Tokara is designed to save time and up productivity.
“The great thing about Tokara Link is that we can add functionality to meet customer needs and be responsive to the changing demands of the job,” Mr Katsanevas added. “If there are specific reporting or unique diagnostics requirements, we have the ability to act quickly and assist. An example is the need to store historical back ups of machine calibrations, enabling operators to retrieve an earlier version and get straight to benching out as usual. Customers asked us for it, so we now offer that feature as standard.”
As software gets ever more sophisticated, the need to open source architecture and the ability to translate files between platforms increases.
Position Partners offers a number of complimentary software solutions to assist with various stages of a project design and build, including Viasys VDC – a BIM tool that assists all key stakeholders such as designers, contractors and owners with the ability to live through a project before construction starts. Utilising all of the models and data, a complete 5D model can be created giving the user a complete visulations of the scenario that has been created to reduce risk, cost and time while increasing safety as all areas of a project can be analysed for safety. Viasys VDC also integrates with a number of Autodesk software platforms and a new version with MAGNET integration is set to be released in the coming months.
MAGNET is a Topcon CAD solution for surveyors that enables field parties and office personnel to collaborate in real time via the Cloud. It offers a range of different modules and platforms to suit different application requirements, with the ability to talk to other leading software packages including Autodesk and Bentley.
DynaRoad is sophisticated mass haul and scheduling solution specifically designed for civil projects such as road and land developments. It allows engineers, estimators and project managers to schedule and manage each stage of the project, leading to faster response times and the ability to control quantities, resources and production rates.
“The important factor with all software and telematics solutions is the ability for them to talk to each other,” Mr Katsanevas added. “In order to stay abreast of new BIM standards in the coming years, there will need to be greater connectivity between hardware and software for true collaboration between the various stakeholders and stages involved in a project.
“It is an exciting time in the IT space and an area where we feel Position Partners can add real value in connecting the dots for contractors,” he added.