Depth and connectivity were two of the main themes at the Trimble Dimensions 2005 conference held October 24-26 at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Furthering on its "integrated surveying" approach to marketing from the early 1990s, Trimble launched the "Connected Survey Site," a comprehensive offering of products and solutions covering every angle-and dimension-of the workplace. With numerous acquisitions embedded into the Trimble offering plate-including Spectra Precision, TDS, Nikon, Applanix, MENSI, Pacific Crest and Apache Technologies-Trimble had a well-rounded array to promote.

The Trimble suite of solutions jells with President/CEO Steve Berglund's axiom that Trimble isn't a products company but rather a solution provider. "Value," he said, "is created by the integration of multiple technologies. One product isn't enough."

The Connected Survey Site concept answers this call with positioning technologies, and wireless and software solutions. Berglund said the company's goals are to make more products more convenient and more cost-effective. He specifically highlighted laser scanning technology, which he said will be making its move into the mainstream of surveying practice. Along with asset management and wireless tools, Berglund touted Trimble's solution of seamless data flow and asset performance.

It seemed the product offerings were a step or two above the implementation standards of many companies. In a few construction-based seminars, attendee feedback revealed that company owners appear to be more progressive than their reluctant supervisors and operators in purchasing and implementing advanced equipment and other components. In a course on becoming a construction site data manager, the paramount message was that training for in-house staff should be stepped up. Active adopters also recommended that new implementers make sure employees involved in decision making and operating are comfortable and ready for new processes. Adoption of technologies like machine control, one panelist said, offers the benefit of empowering employees and in obtaining jobs a firm may not have normally gotten.

Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. of Columbia, Mo., for example, has employed machine control on its projects for six years. Employees Jesse Hinton and John Ochsner touted the advantages of GPS on residential jobs, citing their SPS700 construction total station and the Trimble 5800 rover as being tools for their success. The young (<25) surveyors noted that some of the older operators and field workers at Emery Sapp don't trust the work of the advanced instrumentation and need some convincing; the attention and training leads to advancement both personally and professionally for employees.

Moving Businesses Forward

To help attendees move their businesses forward-the theme of the event-Trimble set out to respond to every facet of the survey and construction arena at Dimensions 2005. Emphasizing products, techniques, services and relationships, the company stretched the vision of a project's flowchart to include peripheral components; the Connected Survey Site weaves the various traditional work areas with the changing needs of jobsites that require mobile, wireless and data compatibility solutions. By doing so, they answered to both the small and large customer base. Each component tool promoted at the show claimed to offer simplicity and quick returns on investment. These tools include the new Trimble GX 3D Scanner that "thinks like a surveyor"; the GPS Pathfinder ProXH receiver and the GeoXH handheld GPS receiver for subfoot accuracy work; the R3 GPS System for L1 GPS, the cable-free S6 total station with MagDrive, MultiTrack and SurePoint technology; and the Trimble IS Rover, which integrates optical and GPS tools. Also highlighted were the rugged M3 total station; the TSC2 handheld controller; Construction Manager, a joint venture with Sprint Together with NEXTEL that answers the call for increased productivity and reduced costs through asset management; and a melange of construction tools to aid in every task from designing to grading to building to managing to checking.

More than 1,300 attendees from more than 50 countries had their selection of more than 150 educational sessions throughout the event. Sessions were categorized into four tracks for survey and four tracks for construction. Surveying Track #1 focused on the changing survey landscape; Track #2 on the expanding GPS infrastructure; Track #3 on 3D laser scanning; and Track #4 on solution strategies. Construction Track #1 focused on construction design and data preparation; Track #2 on getting more traction from grade control; Track #3 on real-time site positioning; and Track #4 on the construction horizon.

Presenters included both Trimble technical experts and users of Trimble solutions. Applications covered included surveying, civil engineering, highway and heavy construction, site preparation and construction vehicle fleet management.

Trimble partners, including Sprint Together with NEXTEL, ESRI, Autodesk and Bentley Civil participated in the conference and demonstrated their offerings in the bustling exhibit area. Other exhibitors included Ohmex Instruments, John Deere Construction & Forestry Company, ACSM, Seco Manufacturing Inc. and Cases Plus Inc.

After Trimble's six-year sabbatical from the convention circuit, Dimensions 2005 proved to be a great comeback with the breadth and depth of its offerings. Trimble Dimensions 2006 will be held in November 2006. Specific dates and location will be announced.