Working closely with our equipment suppliers, W M Donald often gets to see and trial the latest innovations before they come to market.

Trimble Inc is based in Sunnyvale, California. Founded in 1978, the company is a world leader. In its own words, it provides systems that enable users to collect, manage and analyse complex information faster and easier.

Here are three Trimble products - one in current use, one just arrived, one for the future - which W M Donald is involved with. Total stations – systems that use digital technology to capture land survey data – were first developed in the 1970s; W M Donald has been using one-man total stations for 36 years. The Trimble SX10 Scanning Total Station, the latest addition to the fleet, has been out on site for seven months. Mike Meldrum is W M Donald’s Engineering Manager and is responsible for ensuring the potential of Trimble technology is translated into site efficiencies, project accuracy and added value for the client:

‘The SX10 combines a Total Station, high-density 3-D scanner and image capture device in one unit. We’ve already captured some great data with it. It’s incredibly versatile. You can do everything from traditional setting out and surveying through to highly detailed scanning work using the same unit and utilising the same workflow process.’

Whilst the SX10 is already in the field, the new TSC7 logger has just arrived. W M Donald received the first one in Scotland and one of the first in the UK. “It’s like having a full-function Windows 10 laptop in the palm of your hand. The bigger 7” screen means our site engineers can use split screen and 3-D views. It will increase the amount of data site teams can handle and make it easier and faster for more complex designs to be shared with site.’

Coupled with Access 18 which is the latest field software it will give our site engineers greater efficiency on site.”

Augmented (Mixed) Reality (AR) is where digital images and data are projected on to, and integrated with, the real-world view; for a very simple recent example of AR, think Pokemon Go. It is set to revolutionise construction over the next decade with, for example, data being projected directly to site workers via a screen attached to a hard hat or through AR glasses. Microsoft Hololens technology is an example of the latter.

Trimble SiteVision (mixedreality.trimble.com) is a handheld mixed reality device that automatically takes 3-D designs and projects them onto your site. It can be used to show buried utilities, bring cut and fill maps to life, and show the visual impact of structural and architectural designs in the landscape.

‘I only got to evaluate a beta model for a few hours hour recently, but the results were amazing. Given the short time window available I simply took a wireframe model of our new Headquarters and imported it into the SiteVision. I then walked through the ‘virtual’ model’ with one of my colleagues. I can’t print his reaction in full, but it was along the lines of ‘That was quite amazing!’, with several other words added for ‘emphasis’.
Hillhead 2018 is the largest construction and quarrying plant exhibition in the UK. It is held in a quarry near to Buxton in Derbyshire and features live demonstrations of

the latest plant and equipment. W M Donald visited the show to look at the latest plant innovations and also upgrading the Trimble GPS systems currently used in its excavators to the latest Trimble Earthworks.

‘Trimble Earthworks will enable excavators to work semiautomatically. The automatic function that has been in dozers and graders for many years is now coming to excavators even allowing for full 3-D rotation when used with a tilt rotator such as a steelwrist.

The operator controls the sticks and Trimble Earthworks prevents overcut meaning final grade is achieved consistently and accurately. This system will be fitted to some of our current excavators and to new ones delivered in the future.’

There is a lot of exciting new technology coming to market and W M Donald as ever is keeping itself at the cutting edge.