When you’re in the business of providing surveys to your community at the highest level of safety, efficiency, quality and service, your people are your best asset. Making sure your people have the best technology to do their work is a proven way to retain key contributors and attract top talent.
“The safety benefits can’t be overstated. In our pipeline- and utility-related work, along with anything near a roadway, this tool allows our surveyors to get the information they need quickly while keeping them out of harm’s way.”
– Analisa Gonzales, PLS, EIT
For Blair, Church & Flynn Consulting Engineers based in Clovis, CA, these are the key drivers for staying on the leading edge of technology. As a testament to the success of this approach, the company has an outstanding track record of employee retention and repeat clients. The firm’s land services division uses everything from digital levels, robotic total stations and advanced GNSS rovers to scanning total stations and 3D laser scanners to serve clients in a variety of applications, ranging from transportation and utilities projects to parks and education facilities. In April 2021, the company took its capabilities to the next level with the purchase of a Leica GS18 I, the first GNSS smart antenna with visual positioning.
“We had been using the GS18 T for the last eight months because of the safety benefits of tilt compensation,” explains Randell West, Blair, Church & Flynn chief of survey. “Not having to level up over points allowed us to capture data in trenches and at the edge of canals and roadways without leaning over into them. As soon as we saw the GS18 I, we knew we wanted to bring this innovation to our clients.”
Significant Efficiency and Safety Gains
Incorporating the same intelligent tilt technology and advanced signal tracking capabilities of the industry leading GS18 T GNSS RTK rover, the GS18 I adds an imaging sensor that enables surveyors to capture measurable images as they walk around a site. The ability to capture measurements from a distance enables surveyors to stay completely out of roadways and trenches while collecting all the data required for the project. Because the tip of the pole doesn’t have to touch the point, surveys can be completed much safer and faster. Points can be measured from image groups on site or back in the office, virtually eliminating return trips for missed data.
“As soon as we saw the GS18 I, we knew we wanted to bring this innovation to our clients.”
– Randell West
Once Blair, Church & Flynn took delivery of their new GS18 I, they immediately began experiencing benefits from the technology. “Just within the first week, we saw how much it can increase our bandwidth and enable us to get the same quality data in a much shorter time,” says Analisa Gonzales, PLS, EIT, land surveyor at Blair, Church & Flynn. “We’re already seeing about a 20 percent improvement in efficiency. And the safety benefits can’t be overstated. In our pipeline- and utility-related work, along with anything near a roadway, this tool allows our surveyors to get the information they need quickly while keeping them out of harm’s way.”
Taking GNSS Surveys to New Heights
In addition to pipeline and utility work, where safety is paramount, the company anticipates using the new GNSS technology to benefit community projects and streamline school improvement surveys, which often require capturing data on roof overhangs and measuring heights on building exteriors. They also envision using the GS18 I to measure heights on utility poles. These measurements can be captured much faster and easier with the GS18 I compared to traditional approaches such as total stations.
“We always use the right tool for the job, and this is really just another tool in our toolkit,” Randell says. “But it’s a powerful tool in that it offers a lot of opportunities for us to expand our capabilities and continue to lead in innovation in our industry.”