World is inching towards integration

World is inching towards integration

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Yes, the world is moving towards integration and it can basically be divided into two distinct categories: technology and workflow integration. Both can significantly increase productivity and reduce the rework on projects for our customers.Bryn Fosburgh
Bryn Fosburgh
Vice-President, Trimble

The world is moving towards technology inte- gration. What is the need for such integration?
Yes, the world is moving towards integration and it can basically be divided into two distinct categories: technology and workflow integration. Both can significantly increase productivity and reduce the rework on projects for our customers. For example, in the area of technology integration, in the past an external radio was used with devices like a robotic total station or GPS/GNSS receiver. Although the external radio provided the customer the productivity advantage of real time kinematic (RTK) or robotics with total stations, the cables and the need for two independent devices created potential issues. Realising the need for integration, Trimble combined the radio within the devices, which provided a robust solution while still providing customers with the productivity advantages of RTK or robotic total station operations. Workflow integration, like sensor or technology integration also reduces rework and improves productivity. Trimble’s Connected Site™ solutions are prime examples, which integrate the workflow of the customer. Connected Site solutions consists of mapping or identifying the workflow of a specific industry segment and then ensuring that there is software and hardware integration between each segment or process. This enables each step in the process to seamlessly handoff, rather than throw over the wall, data and deliverables from one work process to the other. Our acquisitions, development projects and partnerships have revolved around how we can better integrate the workflow process.

Can you elaborate this vis-à-vis Trimble Integrated Surveying?
Integrated Surveying and Integrated Construction combine workflows and sensors within a specific industry segment. This is done by enabling the customer to seamlessly utilise multiple Trimble sensors and software platforms without having to manually input or transfer data from device to device. This enables the customer to use the right tool (optical total station or GPS/GNSS) for the job utilising a single user interface tailored for their industry (surveying and construction) and all data and measurements are contained within a single file or database repository. This provides the customer a richer view and access to all data on the site. It enables the customer to utilise the right tool for the right application, reduces training because a single user interface is utilised and eliminates the need for manual entry of data because the data collector and software seamlessly connect to office software applications in the surveying and construction industries.

What other solutions that require high degree of inte- gration does Trimble have? Can you elaborate how these solu- tions have increased the effi- ciencies and ROIs?
The majority of Trimble’s businesses— whether they focus on engineering & construction, agriculture, mapping and GIS, fleet and asset management or advance devices—are looking at both sensor and workflow integration. Trimble has strengths in positioning, communication technologies and application software development. The combination or integration of these (sensor integration) coupled with application software (workflow integration) can provide customer productivity improvements of 30 percent to greater than 100 percent depending on the applications.

For example, our Utilities Field Solutions group has seamless integration with back office enterprise GIS platforms and industry-specific, field user interfaces to assist in meeting the needs of the various utility industry segments such as electric, gas, water and wastewater.

Can you elaborate on Trim- ble UtilityCenter?
In November 2007, Trimble acquired UtilityCenter, a comprehensive suite of workflow solutions for the utility industry, from Utility Automation Integrators (UAI). The acquisition, combined with the 2006 acquisition of Spacient Technologies and the company’s Fieldport® software, brought with it decades of experience in field service improvement projects for electric, gas, and water/wastewater utilities. Collectively, the Trimble UtilityCenter and Fieldport software solutions provide the foundation of Trimble’s Utilities Field Solutions group, a business area focussed exclusively on providing technology that meets the needs of utilities of all types and sizes. The Trimble Utilities Field Solutions group specialises in implementing enterprise GIS-based solutions including core backoffice GIS, mobile workforce, computerised maintenance management system (CMMS), asset management, field data collection, staking, and inspection solutions and more for the utility industry. Trimble has a vast array of positioning products.

What’s in store from Trimble stables in the near future?
Trimble will continue to look at incrementally developing current GNSS positioning technologies by adding new satellite signals such as the European Union’s Galileo, China’s Beidou II, and Russia’s modernised GLONASS system. These additional satellites and signals can provide customers with improved robustness. Trimble plans to add these capabilities when these systems become commercially viable for our customers. Trimble is also investigating other positioning technologies and how these can be used as standalone or integrated technologies that can complement our conventional positioning portfolio. Positioning has always been a core development area for Trimble and it will continue to be a major investment area for us in the future.

How is Trimble changing the way work is done by linking positioning to productivi- ty?
Trimble’s focus is to provide robust and ubiquitous information solutions that meet the needs of our defined market segments and geographies. Our Connected Site strategy is the vehicle to develop these localised solutions for our customers and we believe the Connected Site transforms the surveyor from being the measurement professional to the information professional. This information rich world will enable the GIS professional and civil engineer to perform tasks in real time in the field and have those actions validated or updated in the remote office. The contractor can utilise all of this digital data to navigate their machines to updated designs and then communicate productivity information reports back to the surveyor, GIS professional, project manager and civil engineer. This enables real time decision making in the field which improves productivity and reduces rework.

As GPS chipsets are becoming highly integrated and becoming more and more the ‘new utility’, what do you foresee as the trend in naviga- tion sector?
Navigation is a bit unique since the user is mostly occupied with piloting a vehicle. While an iPhone or similar device could be used for navigation, it may be far more convenient and safer to use an OEM (built into the “infotainment” system of the car) system since the navigation function would have access to gyro and wheel speed sensors via the can bus, and would have a virtually zero delay for readiness. In addition, maps can also be problematic for highly portable devices used for navigation.

Downloadable maps have been used, but they are slow even with 3G connectivity and not available unless a connection is active. Highly integrated chips are expected to find their way into the navigation sector, but it will be later than phones and PDAs since new product introduction cycles are much longer in the vehicle navigation industry.

Trimble has been acquiring companies with comple- menting products and solutions and expanding its product foot- print. What are the company’s future plans in this direction?
Trimble’s Connected Site is a key part to a variety of Trimble businesses. This involves integrating technology and workflows for a specific industry segment and geography.

Therefore, Trimble’s goal is to provide both localised, by geography, market driven solutions. These will be derived through organic product development and growth, acquisitions and partnerships.

Apart from surveying and navigation, Trimble has also started consolidating on pho- togrammetry products through acquisitions. Where does this lead to? Is Trimble positioning itself as a comprehensive geospatial company?
Trimble has entered the photogrammetry segment based on the needs of its existing customers as well as its own beliefs about how the geospatial industry will evolve. In particular, we firmly believe that the land survey, aerial mapping and GIS segments must and will integrate in the near-term.

End users have increasingly complex geospatial problems to solve—problems that cannot be solved with a single technology. Integration of multiple technologies to generate customer deliverable has begun and is expected to accelerate. Trimble’s goal is to be an industry leader driving this integration.

Any plans to turn into an applications developer and a service provider as well?
Through our acquisitions of INPHO and Geo-3D, Trimble has added end-to-end software applications for the aerial orthopoto and land mobile mapping segments.

This extends our existing depth of software applications in the land survey, construction, GIS, and asset management segments. We can leverage the acquired photogrammetry technology to more deeply address the infrastructure of roads and highways, rail, utilities, and energy transmission and distribution. Our business model continues to be that of a product supplier and a services-for-service company supplier.

In other business areas, we are both an applications developer and service provider. For example, our Mobile Resource Management (MRM) solutions and Trimble VRS Now™ Service.