Home Articles Land Surveying, Mapping, GIS – Interview with Juergen Kliem Vice President, Trimble

Land Surveying, Mapping, GIS – Interview with Juergen Kliem Vice President, Trimble

Juergen Kliem Vice President, Trimble


Jurgen Kliem
General Manager, Trimble Survey Division

1. Land surveying has emerged from chain survey to present 3D Scanning. How has Trimble adjusted to the continuous change and innovations and how these have affected the demand in the company’s products?

Trimble has pioneered many of the innovative technologies that have changed the way surveyors work. These workflow innovations include real-time kinematic (RTK) GPS, servo and robotic total stations, and VRS (GNSS network infrastructure). Trimble continues to enjoy strong growth in its surveying business by providing the industry with innovative solutions to increase their productivity.

Recognizing changing market trends combined with our technology leadership has made it possible to continuously provide our customers with enhanced productivity solutions. By focusing on our customer’s requirements and their workflows, we have enhanced our product offering by adding a Spatial Imaging portfolio to our well-known Integrated Surveying solutions. Our Integrated Surveying portfolio focuses on the land surveying products such as the Trimble R8 GNSS System, Trimble S6 Total Station and many others including the workflow hardware and software solutions. Trimble’s new Spatial Imaging portfolio is focused on enhanced 3D solutions and their increased needs in data communication and includes products such as the Trimble® GX 3D Scanner and the new Trimble VX™ Spatial Station.

For example, the new Trimble VX Spatial Station is an advanced positioning system that combines optical, 3D scanning and video capabilities—Trimble VISION™ technology—to measure objects in 3D and to produce 2D and 3D data sets for spatial imaging projects. The new Trimble VX Spatial Station revolutionizes the scope of services that surveyors, engineers, mapping and geospatial professionals can offer as well as provide them with an entry into spatial imaging applications to enhance business opportunities. The Trimble VX Spatial Station enables users to blend extremely accurate ground-based information with airborne data to provide comprehensive datasets for use in the geospatial information industry.

With recent advances in the geospatial information industry, more opportunities and applications for spatial imaging data are being identified for industries such as transport and civil engineering, utilities and communications, natural resources management, government and military. Many of these applications use airborne information, but would also benefit from ground-based positioning and imaging. While satellite and aerial imaging provide exceptional overhead views and long-range details, the only way to capture comprehensive eye-level views is from the ground. A ground-based sensor such as the Trimble VX Spatial Station is an ideal solution that delivers millimeter positioning accuracy, 3D measurements and video imaging—all in one package.

Out of all the different product lines of Trimble, please elaborate on two of your product lines viz., GIS & Mapping and Surveying and Infrastructure.

Survey and Infrastructure
Trimble’s Connected Survey Site model creates seamless working relationships among Trimble products, technologies and services through support, infrastructure and partnerships. Taking Integrated Surveying™ to the next level, the Connected Survey Site enables surveyors to choose from a broad range of options, including surveying techniques, communications channels and facilitating services such as GNSS infrastructure in one fully-integrated and interoperable surveying solution. Surveyors benefit from complete data compatibility with Trimble field and office software; increased flexibility in employing the best tools and techniques for the job at hand; the adaptation of specialized technologies to fit the ideal workflow of surveyors; and the localization of surveying solutions to address specific market needs throughout the world.

Providing technology leadership to enhance the productivity of our customers is also a key area. Examples include the Trimble R8 GNSS with the capability to track all today’s available signals for better availability and accuracy, the Trimble S6 Total Station with modern technology components in angle and distance measurement and the new Trimble VX Spatial Station combining 2- and 3D-advantages.

The infrastructure business today offers solutions that are essential to the backbone for geodetic networks with the well-known Trimble VRS offerings. In addition to the CORS hardware and software components, the solution has evolved into complete turn-key system and also a services business –- Trimble VRS Now Service.

Mapping and GIS
Trimble’s Mapping & GIS product line features a range of GPS/GIS data collection and data maintenance systems with accuracies from subfoot (30cm) to several meters. These systems feature built-in wireless capabilities in a range of ruggedness. Throughout the Asia Pacific region, local, regional and national government agencies; scientific and natural resource organizations; utilities; and other companies utilize these data collection and data maintenance systems to manage their geographically dispersed assets, and to stay current and competitive.

Trimble also offers complete solutions for Mobile GIS – the use of geographic data in the field on mobile devices. Integrating GPS, rugged handheld computers and GIS field software makes the enterprise database directly accessible to field-based personnel, whenever and wherever it is required.

How these two product lines are spread over different regions viz., South Asia, South East Asia, North Asia, Europe, North and South America, Middle East and Africa?

Trimble has a distinctly global footprint with around half of our sales outside North America and R&D centers in 9 countries ranging from Japan to New Zealand to Germany. Around half of Trimble’s total 2006 sales were in North America, 25 percent in Europe, 12 percent in Asia-Pacific and the remainder from the rest of the world. These percentages reflect all Trimble business segments including Engineering and Construction, Field Solutions (Mapping and GIS and agriculture), Mobile Solutions, and Advanced Devices. We do not break out individual product lines; we only report overall regional sales by business segments.

In regard to our presence in Asia, we have opened new offices in India and Thailand and we have received very positive feedback from our customers.

Could you compare the revenue generated from these two product lines over the last five years, preferably in the form of a graph?

The Survey Division is part of the Trimble’s Engineering and Construction (E&C) Segment. From a revenue perspective, the Trimble only reports E&C’s contribution to the company’s overall revenues. For 2006, Trimble’s revenues were US$940 million. E&C contributed US$637 million, which translates to 68 percent of the company’s total revenue.

Mapping and GIS is part of Trimble’s Field Solutions (TFS) Segment, which also includes the Agriculture Division. From a revenue perspective, Trimble only reports TFS’s contribution to the company’s overall revenues. For 2006, Trimble revenues were $US940 million. TFS contributed US$139 million which translates to 15 percent of the company’s total revenue.

Engineering and Construction:

2006 2005 2004
$637 million $524 million $440 million
68% 68% 66%

Trimble Field Solutions:

2006 2005 2004
$139 million $128 million $106 million
15% 16% 16%

What is the philosophy behind acquisitions of different companies in the recent past? What technological advancements, Trimble has gained on account of the acquisitions?

Over the past several years, acquisitions have played a role in our strategy, principally as mechanisms to establish beachheads in new market spaces, fill in product line gaps, or add new technologies to our solutions portfolio. More importantly, continued innovation and industry domain experience are the primary drivers which allow Trimble to focus on organic growth as our principal strategy in our core market segments—Engineering and Construction, Agriculture, the Mobile and Field Workforce, and Advanced Devices.

Trimble’s growth strategy is centered on developing and marketing innovative and complete solutions to its existing customers, while also marketing them to new customers and geographic regions. In some cases, this has led to partnering with or acquiring companies that bring technologies, products or distribution capabilities that will allow Trimble to establish a presence in a market, penetrate a market more effectively, or develop solutions more quickly than if they had done so solely through internal development. Since 1999, this has led Trimble to form two joint ventures, with Caterpillar and Nikon, and acquire twenty one companies.

A few Engineering and Construction acquisitions during 2006 include:
XYZs of GPS, Inc. of Dickerson, Maryland. XYZ develops real-time Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) reference station, integrity monitoring and dynamic positioning software for meter, decimeter and centimeter applications.

Quantm International, Inc. in Australia. Quantm is a provider of transportation route optimization solutions used for planning highways, railways, pipelines and canals.

BitWyse Solutions, Inc. of Salem, Massachusetts BitWyse is a provider of engineering and construction information management software

XYZ Solutions, Inc. of Alpharetta, Georgia. XYZ Solutions provides real-time, interactive 3D intelligence software to manage the spatial aspects of a construction project

Meridian Project Systems, Inc. of Folsom, California. Meridian provides enterprise project management and lifecycle software for optimizing the plan, build and operate lifecycle for real estate, construction and other physical infrastructure projects.

INPHO GmbH of Stuttgart, Germany. INPHO is a leader in photogrammetry and digital surface modeling for aerial surveying, mapping and remote sensing applications.

In addition, Trimble acquired Spacient Technologies, Inc. of Long Beach, California. Spacient is a leading provider of enterprise field service management and mobile mapping solutions for municipalities and utilities. The acquisition has enabled Trimble to further expand its Mapping and GIS solutions for the field and mobile workforce.

Can you brief our readers about the Trimble Integrated Surveying? Integrated Surveying talks about seamless-ness of GNSS receivers and optical total stations. Does this Interoperability is also true between instruments of different make, say between Trimble GPS and SOKKIA Total Station etc.? If yes, what different instruments are supported.

Integrated surveying is a key component in Trimble’s development efforts. The concept is based and dependent on our system design. This ranges from internal data communication between different sensors, structure of data bases, data security and reliability, backwards compatibility while preparing for new trends, such as 3D.

The advantages for our customers obtaining timely, complete and compatible data sets with different technologies, such as total stations, GNSS, scanning, picture and video information, are tremendous.

Because of the complexity, difference in technology stages from different brands, the total and maximum integration is only available between the Trimble sensors and solutions. On request from customers we have provided integration from different sensors with our solutions in various ways. This is dependent heavily on the sensor to connect and its capabilities. We recommend users to contact our local representatives in order to have more detailed questions answered.

What is the philosophy behind establishing VRS system around the world? Once established, how the data is made available to the users and who maintains the system? Please mention some of the benefits, individual user and the geospatial community, as a whole, will have

Trimble’s philosophy is to provide a unified geospatial framework over large areas that provide high accuracy, high precision positioning to existing and emerging markets. At their best, these systems are “multi-modal,” meaning they benefit many user communities simultaneously including: scientific/academic, geomatics, utilities, construction, resource management, and many others.

Establishing a VRS worldwide network enables convenient centimetre level positioning for our customers without the need of a base station. The data is broadcast in an international standard format via cellular or radio technology. System maintenance is provided by private network operators, public municipal agencies, and in the case of the Trimble VRS Now Service, Trimble maintains the network.

Benefits-

Lower cost entry into a RTK solution – no need to purchase a base station; only a rover is needed
Homogenous results
Reduce costs for network control maintenance
These networks help consolidate the geospatial data, information, market
Combining optical and GNSS data is even more convenient

Which are the different countries where VRS has been established? Which Asian countries already have this system in place and which other countries are in the offing?

More than 100 Trimble infrastructure network installations have been established throughout the world including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic South Africa, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom the U.S., and others. For a partial reference list of Trimble VRS installations visit: .
Trimble VRS is very important to the company in Asia and we are focused on continually expanding networks.
Asia countries where Trimble VRS Networks are established include:
Japan (first)
China
South Korea
Taiwan
Malaysia
Singapore

In India, the Survey of India is currently utilizing GPSNet and Trimble Integrity Manager software. They do not have RTKNet, which is the software that establishes a Trimble VRS network. So, they are running Trimble GNSS Infrastructure software, but not doing Trimble VRS today.

What are the focus areas of the R&D activities of the company?

Across Trimble, R&D efforts are focused on ways to transform they way work is done, making our customers more productive. This includes R&D research in optics, lasers, 3D scanning and imaging, communications, information and database management, GNSS, software, ruggedized field computers, network infrastructure, web services, machine guidance and automation, precision timing, and much more.

Creating value for our customers is most probably the best way to summarize this question. One key area is our research competency—we continually translate market trends and customer requirements into product offerings that enable productivity and transform the way work is done. Our Dimensions Conference and customer focus groups along with market research help us to accomplish our goals.

Are there some case(s) where ventures were established with the surveying companies? How has this helped the company?

See acquisitions in a previously answered question.

What lies ahead for the surveying community in terms of the technology and the market?

Our fundamental goal is to transform the way survey work is done in our targeted markets through the application of technology. Beyond this, we are continuing to challenge ourselves to meet or exceed the needs of the surveying community. We strive to stay in front of the challenges faced by surveyors so that our solutions exceed these expectations.

For example, growth opportunities in the geospatial information industry and technology convergence provided the catalyst for the development of the Trimble VX Spatial Station. Based on the industry’s direction and the need for accurate data, our engineers and in-house surveyors combined optical positioning, 3D scanning and video capabilities to offer surveyors and geospatial professionals a dynamic solution that answers their real-world needs today while also equipping them for tomorrow’s challenges.

We can also revisit the Connected Survey Site model which creates seamless working relationships among Trimble products, technologies and services through support, infrastructure and partnerships. Taking Integrated Surveying™ to the next level, the Connected Survey Site enables surveyors to choose from a broad range of options, including surveying techniques, communications channels and facilitating services such as GNSS infrastructure in one fully-integrated and interoperable surveying solution. Surveyors benefit from complete data compatibility with Trimble field and office software; increased flexibility in employing the best tools and techniques for the job at hand; the adaptation of specialized technologies to fit the ideal workflow of surveyors; and the localization of surveying solutions to address specific market needs throughout the world.

Could you elaborate on Trimble Knowledge Network? What led to its inception and how does it operates?

The Trimble Knowledge Network is a new training platform that allows for the deployment of blended training delivery options for Trimble Engineering and Construction customers and distribution partners worldwide. These blended training options include:

Self-study Programs:

    1. “Getting started” self-study tutorials for novice users to Trimble hardware and software solutions
    2. Self-study product overviews and theory courses

Live:

  1. Concept Builders facilitated by an instructor, via the Internet (integrating theory to product), for intermediate skills levels
  2. Skill Builders via facilitated by an instructor, via the Internet (followed by hand-on practice on the Web), for intermediate skills levels
  3. Scheduled or Custom instructor-led classes for advanced levels performed by experienced instructors
  4. Self-service interactive knowledgebase and support

There was an opportunity for Trimble to continue to extend its leadership in post-sales service and support. Therefore, we needed to provide the most convenient, consistent and measurable means of operating Trimble software and hardware globally. This meant investing in the very best technology platforms, and recruiting experts in the field of blended training. We want to lead a paradigm shift in the survey and construction industry.

It operates by a centralized learning management and content management system that deploys blended training in offline and online options. The future will entail rich content delivered in multiple ways to a connected site (wired or wireless Internet, DVD, USB Stick, cell phone, IPOD). We offer these blended learning options to key accounts, customers and distribution partners. Results can be measured via testing and we can tie training to any employees work performance plan. In summary, we want to ensure that Trimble solutions are leveraged in the most effectively in the field.

What is the idea behind the Trimble’s Small Business Program?

Trimble believes working with Small Business makes good sense. To ensure this value is continually realized, Trimble established a program to support the development of small business. We do this by proactively seeking diverse small business suppliers that meet our corporate goals; we also work with them long-term, seeking to empower them to attain their goals and objectives. Trimble relies on the talents and expertise of our suppliers who can provide a value-add product or service. Because of this we believe our commitment to Small Business strengthens our own market position.

For more information about Trimble’s Small Business Program, visit: