The Mace Group, a technology-based construction company based in Dublin, Ireland now uses the Trimble X7 laser scanner, integrated with Spot the Robot Dog, to capture as-built data onsite. Find out how this integration enables Mace to work smarter and become even more competitive.
In our previous blog post, we told you about the Trimble X7 laser scanner/Spot the Robot Dog integration heading to Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to support engineering courses and technical research. We may have left you thinking, “That’s great, but is the X7’s integration with Spot really practical for real-world, onsite construction work?”
Technology-Based Construction Company in Ireland
The answer is yes, according to the Mace Group, a technology-based construction company based in Dublin, Ireland. Mace develops, consults, constructs, and operates projects throughout the entire property and infrastructure lifecycle.
Mace is using a custom integration between Trimble’s X7 and Boston Dynamics’ Spot. The solution enables teams to work more productively with building information models (BIMs), supporting Mace’s vision of delivering projects faster, safer, and better than ever before.
The Mace Group had been considering acquiring Spot for some time. Trimble’s collaboration with Boston Dynamics, integrating its sophisticated X7 laser scanner with Spot’s autonomous agility, sparked Mace’s decision to bring the solution onboard.
“That was the step change that we were looking for,” Kieran Heffernan, Mace’s associate director of construction told Equipment World. “We wanted a process that compared the automated laser scan capture and analysis against the BIM model.”
As an Irish company, Mace decided to rechristen their customized X7/Spot integration “Setanta”. That’s the name of a character from Celtic mythology.
Capturing As-Built Details for Very Large Structures
Mace had undertaken a project involving capturing as-built details for several very large structures. Starting in 2022, the company deployed their customized Setanta solution to capture the as-built data via laser scans.
Once Setanta completes the scans, Mace staff compare them with the existing BIM model. This enables them to identify deviations, conduct quality assurance, and create a digital twin of each structure.
“We were doing it before as a manual process,” Heffernan explained. “We had an engineering company in the field doing the laser scanning and then filtering it back to our BIM Team. And then there would be a manual check of the laser scan against the BIM model.”
Replacing this labour-intensive process, Setanta autonomously patrols the structures, conducting the required scans at designated locations. In the past, Mace’s field crews might have found time to complete one full job scan per week, while Setanta delivers at least three scans every week without an operator.
Setanta transmits its completed scans to construction managers using Trimble RealWorks. The resulting report notifies the management team whenever field crews have installed components at the site.
Managers can quickly ensure that items are positioned correctly and determine if crews need to make any adjustments. During Setanta’s trial run, it completed 100 scans in just ten hours.
“Released Our BIM Teams to Do the Work They Need to Do”
“That released our BIM teams to do the work they need to do from a modeling and coordination perspective,” Heffernan explained. “And our construction managers benefit from the larger quantity of data that we gain and filtering that through to our team.”
The timely and accurate data from Setanta enables crews to identify and correct clashes earlier in the construction process. This avoids confusion, delays, and costly rework.
Setanta’s autonomous function includes its ability to identify and maneuver around random obstacles. As part of its trial run, the team deliberately put various stumbling blocks in Setanta’s route.
While navigating a data centre with a complex layout, congested spaces, and equipment and cabinetry in its way, Setanta would detect barriers on its own. It would then reverse course, reposition itself, and find a better location from which to complete its scan.
“That was one of the scenarios where I thought we are onto something here,” Heffernan realized. “Not only is it doing pre-directed routes, it also has the brains to figure out how to work around obstacles efficiently and effectively.”
Scanning Topography for Earthmoving
Setanta passed its trial run in 2022 with flying colours, and it’s taking on an even more challenging project for 2023. Its new role involves scanning the topography for earthmoving and related site work. Mace Group now includes Setanta’s efficiency improvements in its project estimating, making its bids more competitive.
On this new project, the team will work out field scanning missions for Setanta to complete while they focus on their daily tasks. The field engineer will place Setanta in its docking station where it can recharge its batteries and download its scans.
Then, whenever its engineer decides to press Setanta’s start button, the device will set out on its own to complete its appointed rounds, capturing the current status with the Trimble X7. “In the morning, we will have fully scanned data in the data centre that can be immediately shared with our BIM team,” says Heffernan.
Customized Trimble X7/Spot Integration
Trimble and Mace Group collaborated for three months to ensure the customized Trimble X7/Spot integration aligned with Mace’s work processes. “We worked with them to establish their goals for each month of the trial, until it became clear that everyone operating the robot knew how it worked and it became part of their day-to-day operations,” said David Burczyk, construction robotics lead for Trimble. “From there, the Mace team was able to spread the knowledge to other team members within their organization.
Setanta’s power users are the members of Mace’s virtual design and construction teams. Staff who work with the 3D BIMs use the scan data to capture information, make comparisons, and work with each project’s virtual prototype.
Based on lessons Mace has learned so far, management now has some enhancements in mind for Setanta. The X7 will be reading from QR coded labels in the future, and onsite crews will be sharing data from Setanta with Trimble’s XR10 augmented reality helmet.
Setanta has also taken on a sales role with Mace. “It’s a really interesting piece of technology,” Heffernan said. “We have used it in presentations to clients and it’s nice to showcase what we bring to the table. So, it’s a fun time.”
BuildingPoint Can Help
Spot the Robot Dog is both practical and fun, but its Trimble X7 collaboration is just one of many advanced positioning and geospatial solutions BuildingPoint can offer your business through our partnership with Trimble.
From building and design solutions to construction technology hardware and software, BuildingPoint can help your company improve productivity and profitability with solutions grounded in leading-edge collaborative technology – plus the training and support you need to ensure success.
Why not call BuildingPoint today to learn how your business can apply Trimble’s comprehensive approach to building information management (BIM) on your next project?