President, Hexagon Geosystems
Measuring the world around us is very important, believes Juergen Dold, President, Hexagon Geosystems as he explains how the company is expanding its solution portfolio by not only capturing the reality from the air and creating maps, but also creating more added-value information from this data
Leica Geosystems is one of the oldest and largest suppliers of mapping and surveying solutions in the world. It has been part of the Hexagon group for sometime now. What product innovations can we expect shortly?
We continue to invest in innovations, as we have done for the past 90 years. Take for instance our airborne sensors division, which we intentionally call Geospatial Solutions Division. It is expanding its airborne offerings to other platforms as well. We call it ‘3D Mapping with different views’.
Urban population is growing at the rate of 180,000 people per day globally, which is why our cities are growing vertically too. There is change everywhere, and we are addressing these changes with several initiatives. We have created an oblique sensor which includes a new workflow so that you can fl y on Monday and have the real, photorealistic, digital city 3D model by Friday. And we continue to work on reducing these times down to hours.
We have made our scanners mobile: to be able to manage road assets at the speed of traffic. With this, we are creating a dedicated mobile mapping system. We can combine our customers’ scanners with a device that they can put on a car and make it mobile.
We have also entered into a strategic alliance with a UAV supplier in Germany called Abiotix. They have built an octocopter which has a greenhorn function, so you can land it back where you came from, and the rotators are protected so that if you hit something it bounces back and doesn’t break. The aim is to make unmanned surveys available to every surveyor because not every surveyor is a pilot.
Our machine control division is moving forward with innovations as well. First, there are GNSS solutions that we use in fleet management and machine control for mines which are moving towards autonomous machines. There are also continuous investments in our machine control for construction sites and agriculture applications where we automate with our integrated GNSS solutions, thus driving operations to higher performance. One recent example is our world’s first dual GNSS Wheel Loader solution.
Our survey division is currently very excited about multiple game changers. We have already released the Leica P20, which is the fastest scanner at the longest range and has a very unique onboard “calibration” capability. You no longer need to send scanners around the world anymore to check and re-calibrate. This capability is now on board and provides the best accuracies anywhere and anytime.
Our newest announcement on the world’s first MultiStation is about combining all we are known and famous for into one solution, and creating a new dimension in measurement technology. The MultiStation can do everything a survey instrument does, only faster, with extended 2-km reflectorless range and a resulting image capability that makes looking through telescopes a thing of the past. However, the real game changer here is that we have miniaturised “scanning” into a device smaller than a cigarette box to fit in a survey instrument.
Now, the new standard for survey equipment in industry combines survey capabilities with onboard scanning and onboard point cloud capabilities. This redefines how surveys will be done in the future.
Think about our H2O solutions, where you have total stations placed at remote dams and you want to know more about dam deformation. You can now look through the instrument to get fully remote measurements.
With the toughening business environment, it is observed that the trend of expanding airborne sensor fleet is slowing and the market is saturating. What is your take on this?
I agree that there is a saturation of airborne sensors in certain markets, but in emerging markets there are wide areas that are yet to be mapped. If the market is filled up with airborne sensors to make the first capture of a country, then afterwards it is primarily not about selling only new sensors, but about the constant modification of those sensors to be more efficient. Last year, we said we could capture 23,000 sq km a day at a given resolution with the latest sensors. This year, we have improved the technology to capture 40,000 sq km a day giving us the same resolution. So, instead of capturing half of America in three months, one can do it in one-and-a-half months. We are experiencing high demands in the emerging markets and we have to equip these markets with new sensors while we make higher-performing sensors for the advanced markets.
We are also expanding the capabilities of our solutions by creating more added-value information from the data. So, instead of stopping at the image, we are automatically creating a 3D terrain or a photorealistic digital city model where you can find the sunny side of the roof in order to calculate the solar potential of an entire city. We are the only company in the market with this kind of broad performance and wide range of multi-platforms.
After three years of coming together of Leica Geosystems and Z/I imaging, Hexagon Geosystems released Leica ADS100 early this year, touted to be the most productive airborne sensor available today. Are we seeing a synergy between the workflow and product lines of the two companies?
Absolutely. All the peripheral products of the two companies were the first to be unified. Fleet management, mission planning, mission control software, stabilising platforms and such kind of platforms have been unified. The core product lines have endured despite the fact that people said we will shut down one product line or the other. Contrary to that, we have grown with local organisations around the world that can offer our customers the solution that best fits their challenge, instead of offering just one type of sensor.
How is this synergy getting populated with the Technology division (constituting Intergraph) of Hexagon so that you cater to the entire geospatial workflow?
We have our measurement solutions which can be combined with visualisation and technology from Intergraph. I can give three applications where our technology is playing a key role with the software solutions of Intergraph’s total vertical solutions. First is H2O, which manages the water infrastructure for water preservation, energy creation, dam management and the environment. The second is about reality capture in designing and maintaining industrial plants where we integrate our scanning solutions with Intergraph/ PP&M SmartPlant 3D solution.
The third is the new way of constructing industrial structures — the smart assembly of large structures where you need noncontact measurement technology with intelligent design processes to put parts together so that they fit together. This project is about a collaboration between Intergraph PP&M and Hexagon Metrology, which also uses Hexagon Geosystems measuring solutions.
Hexagon Geosystems integrates mapping sensors with Intergraph software. This is also happening separately in the market, where sales organisations are serving our customers with technologies from both divisions. Intergraph has a very highperforming business and so do we and both are needed in our respective markets. But together, under the Hexagon brand we can create targeted industry vertical solutions.
While machine control is quite promising, it still seems a long way before these technologies as standard on machines and equipment such as bulldozers, graders etc. What is your take?
This varies from region to region. In some regions, these technologies are already mandatory. So construction players, instead of having 10 surveyors for 50 machines, have one positioning system and one surveyor. In other parts of the world, it’s about educating the market. Saving labour cost is secondary here; saving materials and resources is the primary aspect of machine control. And new technologies can take between 5 and 10 years to be present in every single market. But the good thing about our industry is that not every single market is on the same high at the same time, so we can grow every year.
What is your take on the localisation strategies of Hexagon Geosystems?
Hexagon Geosystems believes that everyone has to measure in one way or another; because what you don’t measure, you can’t manage. And that’s the business we are in since 90 years. That’s the reason we focus on measuring the world around us by building and maintaining infrastructure, enabling efficient use of resources in mining and agriculture, and making the world safer with forensic technology and aid against natural catastrophes.
And we do that in a two speed world. In the slower growing advanced markets it is all about increasing efficiency. And in the emerging where it is all about growing, but efficiency is needed too.