Channel Sponsor: Leica Geosystems | www.pure-surveying.com
What would it take to operate a surveying firm that was fast, ultra-responsive, high-quality and cost-competitive? visual positioning, drone data capture, smart software—technology advances empower small surveying firms to provide big service. The Future of Land Surveying Scanning total stations, GNSS with
This was the question that weighed on Eric Ackerman, PLS. An astute problem solver who had first discovered his passion for surveying in high school in the late 1980s, Ackerman began noticing an unsettling trend in the late 2000s. Construction contractors, land developers, transportation agencies and even private homeowners in his home state of California were struggling to find surveyors that offered satisfactory service, quality and value. Ackerman believed he had the answer, and in 2010 he launched his firm, Gromatici Land Surveying, Inc., based in Santa Barbara, CA. Starting as a solo surveyor with a Leica robotic total station and a GPS rover, Ackerman quickly built a solid client base and steadily grew his business. He became a Certified Federal Surveyor (CFedS), expanded his team to include several other surveyors, and invested in a Leica MultiStation to add another robot with laser scanning capabilities. Soon after, he became licensed in four additional states (Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Colorado), opened a second office in Los Olivos, CA, became a licensed drone pilot and acquired a drone for use in aerial mapping and topographic surveys. With each new technology investment, Ackerman recognized a distinct advantage. Setup time decreased, quality and efficiency increased, and the amount of work he was able to handle with his small team expanded. “We can do the same work as a large firm, with the same or higher level of quality and service, but at a significant value,”he says. “It all comes down to our technology and people.” GNSS Innovation Takes Efficiency to the Next Level Recently, Ackerman decided it was time to upgrade the company’s GNSS rover. At Vision 2020, the virtual joint confer- ence of APLS, CLSA and NALS held in August 2020, he saw an unusual approach—a GNSS smart antenna that uses tilt technology and also captures measurable images as the operator walks around the site. Ackerman was intrigued by the visual positioning capabilities of the Leica GS18 I. “Efficiency is paramount; we have to keep looking for ways to be faster,” Ackerman says. “The GS18 I is an innovative GPS unit that I saw right away would be a really big time saver.” An in-person demo from his local Leica Geosystems representative, Jason Paris, gave Ackerman more insight into the instrument’s capabilities. He experimented with the tilt function and realized he could save almost a minute on every shot with that capability alone by eliminating the need to level the pole. He had already been using Infinity office software with the MultiStation. With the GS18 I data, Infinity would streamline point calculations and adjustments. “With the GS18 I, we can capture the utility boxes as we’re walking. We can capture details like trees. If we’re doing a landscape survey and there are rock walls and other features, we can easily capture those for the landscape architect. And having all the data in the images is great for QA/QC.” —Eric Ackerman, PLS, CFedS This point cloud was generated from imagery captured with the Leica GS18 I GNSS smart antenna with visual positioning. The point cloud provides a valuable 3D visualization of the site. Additionally, the Gromatici team can pull discrete measurement points from the images at any time without having to return to the site.
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