Providing respective stakeholders with the tools to work efficiently on a construction job is the core principle behind the established products of Trimble Navigation Ltd. Bringing those systems together is the newest frontier.
Trimble Connected Community is a Web-based set of networking tools that allows heavy and highway contractors to continually be in sync with job partners and clients, be they from within the same organization or beyond. With the building of information portals, Connected Community provides a cross between the site positioning, grade control and asset management "pillars" to allow head office management, site office teams, field crews, subcontractors, engineers, clients and even suppliers to both share information and collaborate.
"We've had the tools in each of the pillars in the past, but we haven't connected them or crossed the boundaries of the pillars per se like we have now," says Paul Thomas, Trimble's Southeast regional sales manager, heavy and highway division. "This is getting far beyond just bolting iron on a piece of machinery or using a GPS rover pole for one task on a job."
As a collaborative environment, Connected Community leverages information resources, promotes efficiencies, and reduces delays associated with communicating and sharing information with multiple stakeholders on the construction site, according to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Trimble. In grade control, Trimble offers an intelligent live link between on-site earthmoving machines and the office that enables contractors to send updated design information directly to the machine cab, both eliminating time-wasting trips and reducing costly errors caused by different people not working from the same plans. Now with Connected Community, that goes a step further, integrating the information flow to other site stakeholders.
"It's able to give people access to information that they need, whereas you would have had to pick up the phone and call 10 different phone numbers," says Thomas. "Now, as soon as I make a change to something, it's populated and everybody gets notified who needs to be notified."
The amount of feedback following the product's Conexpo-Con/Agg launch was "astounding," says Thomas. "You would think that, with the high technology, it would just be the bigger companies out there, but it's not. It's the small- and mid-sized all the way up through the large companies that are calling and saying, 'Hey, I saw this at your booth. I saw this working both inside and outside. Come to my jobsite, and show me how and what we need to do to get this running.'"
And the appeal is hitting beyond customers of Trimble site positioning, grade control and asset management products.
"It's a combination of both," says Thomas. "It's customers who have had the suite of products, have been using it, have gained tremendous strides in their efficiencies on the jobsite, and now want to take it to the next level. And then, just last week, I went to a company in Alabama that has nothing and is getting involved just now in the technology, and they were real keen on the Connected Site/Connected Community aspect of it.
"They see how companies that are using the technology are able to shave an exorbitant amount of money and put it elsewhere, and they're sitting there asking themselves, 'Well, why aren't we doing this?'"