Even amidst the perennial enthusiasm of the annual World of Concrete trade show, Oscar Cantu’s passion stands out.

Senior marketing manager for Topcon Positioning Group, Cantu is as much excited about the direction of the geospatial and construction space in general as he is about the particular new technology products that were unveiled and on display Feb. 3-6 at the massive Las Vegas trade show.

Among those new products is an updated version of the Topcon LN-100 3D positioning system. The new Topcon LN-100W Layout Navigator offers added connectivity with the addition of Bluetooth functionality, “which segues right into our new MAGNET Construct, which is really one of the stars of the show,” Cantu told POB. “Software is the key differentiator to what we do as an industry. Having something like MAGNET Construct, an Android app where somebody can just literally buy an LN-100 or LN-100W piece of hardware and use his or her own personal phone to be productive with it, I think shows what the next three to five years are going to be like. It’s very different from the last three to five years, and that’s what I am looking forward to.”

Cantu’s as much a hardware promoter as anyone, but the focus now is: “Software, software, software!” It boils down to having access to the tools that many people, particularly young professionals, have grown to use, appreciate and depend upon in their personal lives, he explained. “The software side of things, from what I see, is a parallel of our private lives, where we can use tools such as iCloud and Google Docs. Everybody just uses it so freely and trusts it.

“Now we’re seeing these luxuries that we have in our private lives creeping over to our professional lives,” said Cantu, “where now we can leverage web services like MAGNET Enterprise. The information highway between a project site and an office or a manager is more available and accessible than we have ever seen before. And the nice thing is that it is easy.”

And the market’s more than ready for it, he said. “Just three years ago, the response would be, ‘My fists are up. You must pass through my gauntlet of trust.’ That’s faded. Now it’s expected that we have these secure web services.”

Leica Expert Talks BIM

POB also had the opportunity to visit the Leica Geosystems booth, where expert Cathi Hayes discussed the Building Information Modeling (BIM) trend that is “huge” in construction these days. “BIM is all about integrating intelligent constructible 3D models into the construction Above: process,” said Hayes, Leica’s BIM business manager. “What we do at Leica is help companies take BIM to the field and get field information back into BIM.” As-built capture comes in two forms, she explained. Prior to construction, Leica’s scanners can both capture to 3-millimeter accuracy and document the data for what’s in place at that moment in order to model the work that will be done moving ahead. “We also use our scanners to collect information about the building as it’s getting built,” said Hayes. “There are many different reasons why people will do that. Probably the biggest BIM trend in construction is progressive scanning — scanning all along the way — so that you are capturing where things are today.” Archival information such as what’s under the slab before the contractor pours the concrete or what’s behind the walls before they are covered up is beneficial for future reference, perhaps even as soon as during construction should a problem arise. “The reason the contractors want to do this is so that they can do two things: one, offer more value for the owner with an accurate record of their building; and two, so that during construction, they can compare it back to their model, their BIM, to find out what’s in the right place and more importantly what’s not in the right place. This is so that they can merge together building systems that are not yet installed. They can virtually see problems in the future and mitigate them.”

Mike Anderson, editor of POB, has been kicking around Las Vegas trade shows for the past 20 years. World of Concrete is an annual favorite of his. A rundown of new products introduced at the show will follow in the April issue of POB. Anderson always welcomes your feedback via email at andersonmd@bnpmedia.com.