What Is Site Positioning?
- What Is Site Positioning?
- Parts of a Site Positioning System
- Benefits of Site Positioning
- How Different Industries Use Site Positioning
- Site Positioning With SITECH West
- Contact Us to Learn More About Site Positioning
In the digital age, data is everything, and site positioning brings more data to your job site by leveraging the power of global navigation technology. It can help you see tons of benefits, like cost savings, shorter timelines, improved safety and more. Site positioning systems comprise specially designed components that gather precise information about the entire job site — information that helps everyone in the company communicate and work more efficiently.
Let’s explore site positioning technology, how it works and what it can do for your job site.
What Is Site Positioning?
In construction, many contractors use site positioning to eliminate the need for a third-party surveyor and improve oversight. Waiting for surveyors can be time-consuming and add to your overall costs. Contractors who use site positioning technology can take care of the work themselves, getting the job done on their own time and saving money along the way.
Contractors also use site positioning alongside other technology solutions, like machine control systems and contractor management software such as Trimble Works OS and Trimble WorksManager, for a more comprehensive operational view. Site positioning is more detailed than typical machine control systems and looks at the characteristics of the site itself, not just the location of your equipment. With positioning equipment, you can improve the use of machine control systems and add unparalleled accuracy. It also works with management tools for visualization, planning, data collection and more.
Some tasks involved in site positioning include:
- Checking grades.
- Measuring the site.
- Verifying ground levels.
- Monitoring progress.
- Looking for utilities.
Accomplishing these jobs calls for hardware and software that enable access from just about anywhere. The equipment you’ll need includes various components like controllers, receivers and correction sources. This equipment enables advanced data collection, greater signal accuracy and user-friendly interfacing with the system. You can usually use a site positioning system from in the field or the office.
Parts of a Site Positioning System
The components of a site positioning system are rugged and designed for the tough environments of job sites. Every construction site is different, and how you configure or use these tools will vary. Here are some of the elements you’ll see in a site positioning system.
As the name implies, controllers offer in-field access and control for the overall system, syncing data between the office and job site. Paired with site positioning software, these controllers allow you to view site information, make adjustments, process approvals and communicate with other parties from just about anywhere. Controllers may use cellular networks, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to keep you connected even on remote job sites.
From a controller, you can:
- Take measurements.
- Monitor cut/fill data.
- Verify grades.
- Calculate stockpile volumes.
- Perform quality control tasks.
- Sync in-field changes with design data.
Some controllers might look like the tablets and smartphones that you’re used to, but they’re built tough for some of the most demanding environments — i.e., job sites. They can withstand impact, water and dust with rugged yet ergonomic designs. Some configurations add tactile keyboards, too, for easier typing even while wearing gloves or working in the rain.
All controllers should offer bright, glare-resistant screens for easy reading in sunlight and have long-lasting, hot-swappable batteries to support long workdays. You’ll commonly find cameras built into controllers, too, to help you record and measure from the devices.
GNSS Correction Sources
Correction sources improve the accuracy of a site positioning system for more reliable performance. They come in a few different forms, but they all work to correct the GNSS signal that comes in. The GNSS signal that comes from a satellite has to travel a huge distance and runs into interruptions along the way, like reflective surfaces, weather and electromagnetic interference. A correction source works with two receivers — which we’ll discuss next — and a base station to compensate for these errors.
For example, poor weather may cause a GNSS to determine that your base station is in a different location when it hasn’t actually moved. Your correction source picks up on this discrepancy and calculates the distance of the error. If the correction source determines that the signal is off by 20 meters, it recalculates that error and applies it to the rest of the GNSS components on the job site. This allows for much better accuracy than you would find with the built-in capabilities of a base station alone.
GNSS correction sources are often based on real-time kinematic (RTK) networks delivered through a virtual reference system (VRS). Essentially, a service provider has a network of GNSS correction sources and uses these to provide correction services to receivers within the coverage area. A large job site or one using machine control might need its own base station to serve as a correction source, but smaller sites can often use a virtual correction source.
Trimble, an industry leader in site positioning, has virtual correction sources that include:
- OmniStar: OmniStar services can provide accuracy within 10 centimeters and are available as a subscription.
- Internet Base Station Service (IBSS): Trimble’s IBSS broadcasts RTK data and differential corrections from a base station using the internet. It connects through Wi-Fi or a cellular network for precision in longer ranges outside of the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) radio link that typically connects the receivers.
Receivers and Antennas
Receivers and antennas support the GNSS environment for real-time accuracy and corrections. They’re necessary for network performance and can help ensure repeatable accuracy year over year. Receivers create the setup for off-site access and need to be water- and dust-resistant so they’ll stand up to the elements. They use communication systems like 4G LTE, UHF, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to communicate with other site positioning components.
By keeping your receiver in a fixed, known location, you can use it as a base station. For this purpose, you’ll need to place it on a permanent or semi-permanent structure where it has an unobstructed view of the sky and is protected from theft. You can also use a receiver as a rover that you move around the site.
Receivers can vary in their accuracy, so it’s important to match the receiver to your needs. Trimble Precision GNSS receivers, for instance, can offer accuracies of 8 millimeters horizontal and 15 millimeters vertical, while standard location GNSS receivers offer accuracies of 100 millimeters horizontal and 20-100 millimeters vertical. Controllers may have integrated GPS, but the accuracy will be much broader. An antenna can also help you boost accuracy, especially in tougher locations like tree cover and dense urban environments.
The total station of a site positioning system aids in stakeout, measurement and increasing accuracy of machine control systems to match increased tolerances. Sophisticated imaging technology — including a theodolite, microprocessor and electronic distance measurement (EDM) tool — is wrapped into one device. It takes measurements across horizontal and vertical planes to calculate angles and distances.
Total stations are an essential part of the job, and modern technology means many can be operated by one person or even remotely, making them useful for inaccessible or dangerous areas and small jobs with limited personnel. Total stations can transmit images and measurements online, too, so you can access them from anywhere. They work well in small-site operations and when combined with GNSS on large sites.
Lastly, software brings it all together. It provides the interface for contractors to work from, so it needs to be intuitive and user-friendly. Site positioning software organizes data about the job site, designs and work orders. These systems are all about improving productivity and can be personalized to match unique workflows. Configuration options are plentiful, too, and you may be able to add advanced functionality through modules. Trimble, for example, offers Roading, Advanced Measurement and Tunneling modules packed with features for those environments.
Benefits of Site Positioning
Site positioning systems are highly capable solutions. While they make many surveying tasks possible, they’re also a big help from business and communications perspectives. Here are some of the benefits they offer.
With a site positioning system, data is always at your fingertips. You can make decisions more quickly and have access to information without driving out to the job site. You can perform site analysis without waiting around for surveyors and more quickly work with others involved in the process, like engineers and field workers. Plus, you get the whole picture right from the start, so you can avoid time-consuming adjustments later on.
All that efficiency and streamlined operation allow you to finish the job on time, helping you stay ahead of the deadline and maintain a strong reputation.
Safer Job Sites
Site positioning technology can help you spot hazards long before workers break ground. It can identify safety issues before someone gets hurt and help you address them before they would cause schedule delays.
Many people are involved in construction projects, but communication barriers and inefficiencies can cause frustration, delays and errors. By increasing access to site information, everyone stays on the same page and can quickly get to the data they need. Say someone in the office needs to order supplies, but they don’t have the measurements. Instead of trying to reach someone on the job site and interrupting their work, the office worker can access up-to-date site information from their desk. Everyone involved in the project’s success can review data in context.
Site positioning can help you monitor the site and see how the project is progressing over time. It puts data in one place, no matter how many people are working on the job. When combining site positioning with machine control systems, you have the complete picture of the job site from anywhere.
More Reliable Data
The highly advanced equipment of site positioning systems offers real-time updates — that means up-to-date information and more accuracy. As soon as someone makes changes to the system, everyone else can see it. With detailed site information available digitally, you can access this dependable data more easily and avoid errors.
By having detailed site data from the start, you can avoid costly and time-consuming surprises further into the project. Instead, you can budget for these needs in money and time, gaining more accurate, realistic expectations.
More Cost Savings
As you can imagine, these benefits can all show through in your bottom line. An efficient job site uses fewer resources, and reliable data means less work verifying or correcting errors. Accurate measurements can reduce waste. Efficiency and lower costs can all help you position yourself as an excellent service provider in a competitive industry.
How Different Industries Use Site Positioning
While construction is one of the primary industries for site positioning systems, many others also take advantage of it. Anyone that needs to have precise, reliable data about the characteristics of their job site can benefit from site positioning. Some industries that use these systems include:
- Earthworks: Site positioning is a valuable part of assessing a space before earthmoving tasks. You need to know that the ground is stable and that any changes you make are updated within your positioning system. Whenever you’re changing the makeup of the ground, site positioning can help create a streamlined experience. You can even use the versatile Trimble Earthworks platform, built specifically for working with excavators, dozers and graders.
- Roadwork: Make sure you can adhere to paving regulations with accurate, precise measurements about every subtle detail in the environment. Site positioning can help you keep up with the fast-paced needs of updating road infrastructure through improved efficiency and speed.
- Forestry: Map out every tree and shrub in your way and create a clear, easy-to-follow plan that updates with you as you make progress and fell trees. With better planning, you can be more strategic and boost efficiency along the way.
- Oil and gas: From seismic exploration to the production of oil and gas products, site positioning technology can collect detailed information about the job at hand.
- Agriculture: Site positioning can add precision to farming operations. Plan your farm with unmatched details, add data from soil samples, improve your yields and guide tractors where they need to go, no matter what the weather looks like.
- Drilling: Like earthmoving, drilling operations require plenty of data about the area you’re exploring. Get accurate, precise data about the environment before the drill is even in place.
- Mining: Get a clear picture of every tunnel and pile in your path for a well-organized work site and exceptional safety.
Site Positioning With SITECH West
Here at SITECH West, we supply site positioning equipment from Trimble. Trimble has led the industry in construction technology and continues to innovate high-end software and hardware. Each piece of equipment is built for a minimal learning curve, ease of use and efficiency. Along with offering access to these top-tier resources, we provide end-to-end support for setup, service and training.
We carry an array of Trimble site positioning system components, including:
- Receivers and antennas: Rugged, modular and easy-to-use receivers and antennas can help you optimize your GNSS environment. The R780 construction base works with all available satellite signals and can be upgraded for GLONASS, L5 GPS, Galileo and BeiDou systems. This receiver can be used as a base station only, a rover or both.
- Controllers: With a variety of ergonomic controllers, you can find the best one for your workflow. We have rugged controllers in the style of tablets and smartphones for easy, familiar use, as well as controllers with tactile keyboards for dependable operation. These controllers work on Android operating systems, with all-day batteries, built-in cameras and sunlight-readable screens. They can connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular networks or a combination of these systems.
- GNSS correction sources: We offer a few different types of GNSS correction sources, including RTK positioning services through OmniStar or IBSS. If you prefer to have a base station on-site, the R780 GNSS Smart Antenna also works well as a permanent or semi-permanent base station. You’ll need to pair it with an antenna, but this is a good choice for larger sites or sites with both machine control and site positioning.
- Total stations: Our robotic and universal total stations enable reliable, accurate measurements with reflectorless technology. The SPS730 and SPS930 Universal Total Stations use Multitrack™ technology to lock on and track passive prisms and lock onto active prism targets for different tasks. They’re great choices for fine grading, site measurements, stockpile scanning and more. The SPS620 and SPS720 Robotic Total Stations are also high-quality choices, perfect for one-person jobs and smaller sites.
- SiteVision: The intuitive outdoor augmented reality system, Trimble SiteVision, allows you to share and visualize designs and adjustments. You can quickly calculate measurements, monitor progress and inspect a site with this contextual on-site tool. Turn your spatial data into elements that offer easy visualization, planning and exploration. The lightweight, pole-mounted system is easy to use and comes with a sunshade for improved visibility.
- Software:Trimble Siteworks Software offers easy management of your site positioning platform and its data. It supports a wide range of site positioning tasks, with additional modules available for Advanced Measurement and Roading for more targeted capabilities.
We offer both used and new equipment, as well as accessories.
At SITECH West, we do much more than sell. We offer full-service support for everything from researching your options to repairing equipment to renting additional systems. A lot goes into choosing a site positioning system, and our experienced representatives can help you find the right solution. As a certified Level 3 Authorized Trimble service center, we can also help with repairs, calibrations and updates.
Lastly, our rental services can help you temporarily add to your setup, replace a piece of equipment being repaired or even try a new component for your site positioning system.
Getting the most of your site positioning is all about knowing how to use it right. These systems have many capabilities and configurations, and our site positioning training services cover basic operation, as well as topics like drone mapping, stockpile calculations, machine productivity and troubleshooting. Site positioning training can help you learn your equipment inside and out and stay on top of industry developments.
Contact Us to Learn More About Site Positioning
From your workflow to your typical job site, site positioning needs can vary widely. Our experienced team is ready to help you explore and implement the ideal solution for your work. SITECH West is the authorized Trimble dealer for California’s Central and North Valleys, with high-quality, full-service support for your construction needs. To learn more about site positioning or find the right setup for your business, reach out to us today.