Mining Point Clouds

A prominent Western Australian surveying firm won a bid for pre-design surveys for a complex mining infrastructure spanning tens of kilometers - but with a tight window for completion.  They chose the Trimble X7 for its ease of use, durability in harsh environments, and automated cloud registration, speeding up not only field acquisition time, but also reducing office processing time.

The Pilbara region in the northwest of the State of Western Australia is remote, arid, and rich in mineral resources.  The region accounts for nearly 40 percent of global iron ore production; local residents joke that in some places you could "weld rocks together."  The mining town of Tom Price is the hub of a complex of dozens of some of the world's largest iron ore mining operations.

Trimble X7 & Perspective wins Gold at New York Design Awards 2020

Trimble is proud to announce that the combined solution of the Trimble X7 3D laser scanner and Perspective software is a Gold winner at the New York Design Awards in the category Product Design - Commercial & Industry.

Products were judged on a set of criteria like Innovation, the Design Challenge, and Sustainability. The winning awards entry from Trimble can be found here:

The award celebrates creative and innovative design for either a component or overall product. Consideration is given to aspects that relate to human usage, aesthetics, selection of components and materials, and the resolution of assembly, manufacturing, and the overall function. The judge's panel members are recognised voices in the design economy sourced from leading studios, industry bodies, and design commissioners.

Project Overview

After extensive market research, Trimble found that customers wanted complete, solution-oriented 3D scanner systems. 3D laser scanners are high-tech, versatile tools that are used in construction, surveying, and forensics. Scanners deliver ‘point clouds’, consisting of millions of measurements, that is the basis for as-built documentation for buildings, civil infrastructure, industrial facilities, topographic surveys, cultural heritage, and reconstruction of accident or crime scenes.
3D scanners are no longer measured on performance alone. Data quality is important but fast delivery of verified results in the field is the key to profitability. Customers need systems that eliminate the guesswork and complexity of scanning, offering automatic registration (linking scans together) in the field. With traditional scanning, results are not known until the entire project is registered back in the office. In case mistakes were made, customers risk cost overruns through return trips to the field. Workflows must be simple and support less experienced users. And compact, lightweight systems are expected for ease of use and portability.
Customers want cost-effective systems with a clear ROI. The overall cost of ownership from the purchase price, maintenance cost, personnel cost, and the ability to reliably capture and deliver projects on time are all part of this equation. The main considerations for designing the Trimble X7 scanning system were known.




The Trimble X7 Scanning System had an international project team of 50+ Trimble employees including product management and marketing in Westminster, Colorado; project management in
Danderyd, Sweden and Jena, Germany; optical instrument design and manufacturing engineers in Jena, Germany; scanning hardware, firmware, and software engineers in Paris, France; and
application engineers worldwide. The accomplished team had decades of experience using and designing scanners, total stations, and application software.

Project Brief

The mechanical design of the system’s center unit would have to drive new technical innovations. Trimble X-Drive technology was born to enable the X7 to be the industry’s first instrument to fully automatically calibrate and level itself before each scan. The protected center unit would need to integrate a survey-grade (an extremely high level of accuracy) servo drive with high-speed scanning, internal tilt sensors for survey-grade self-leveling, a calibrated coaxial camera system for fast image capture, and a laser pointer for georeferencing and single-point measurements.
The system would also need to combine smart, simple workflows guided by the Trimble Perspective field software for a more complete, practical approach to scanning. The combination of automation and simplicity would lower the cost of ownership, increase the return on investment, and boost the efficiency and confidence of users.
Automatic calibration ensures consistent data quality and lowers maintenance costs by eliminating the need for annual calibrations. Self-leveling, automatic in-field registration, and complete project visibility reduce the level of experience required to execute projects successfully. Validating projects in the field before returning to the office would be invaluable.

Project Innovation/Need

Trimble X-Drive is the world’s first dual vertical deflection drive system designed by integrating a survey-grade servo drive with a high-speed scanning mirror. A total station vertical drive and angle encoder system is integrated inside the alidade so the complete center unit including the deflection unit and EDM source can be rotated around the trunnion axis in the same manner as total stations. This was the key to enabling features like automatic calibration and survey-grade self-leveling. No targets or user interaction is required to perform full angular, distance, and axis error measurements.
The automatic self-leveling system has survey-grade tilt compensation when the instrument is set up within a working range up to 5° from either side of its vertical axis for upright and upside down scans. Scans are leveled with survey-grade accuracy of < 3” (arc seconds). Leveling guide lights help users adjust the tripod to level the instrument within the tilt range which is much easier than leveling a tribrach within a range of 2° for traditional scanners.
The calibration and the self-leveling process occur automatically before each scan to ensure consistent data quality in all conditions for accurate in-field registration.

Design Challenge

The Trimble X7 automatic angular and distance calibration is similar to how calibration equipment is used on the production line to calibrate standard scanners. The difference is that calibration equipment used in service or manufacturing is very large and can weigh over 200 kg (500 lbs). Calibrations also require technicians and a large calibration range of surveyed targets. The challenge was to miniaturize all of the required components and design a calibration system that would work with no targets or user interaction. For the X7 to be compact and lightweight, new designs were constrained to very tight spaces.
The new center unit design crucial to all of the instrument’s functions had to integrate the scanner EDM, deflection mirror, tilt sensors, laser pointer, and the coaxial camera system. The camera system used three cameras each with a specific field of view to optimize coverage and enable fast image acquisition. The coaxiality of the cameras is made possible by the mechanical design and the alignment of their optical axis to cross the center of the deflection mirror to minimize parallax between images and scans.
Control of the laser pointer had to be implemented in the Perspective field software so the laser could be easily positioned using the scan station view for precision measurements of control points. An IMU also had to be integrated to support automatic scan registration.


The Trimble X7 engineering teams met requirements for a compact, lightweight form factor that can be carried onboard an airplane, avoiding the need to ship it separately. The full system fits in one backpack that contains the scanner, the tablet and batteries, with the ultra-light tripod attached. Only one person needs to travel to the job site.
The scanner uses the same batteries, power supplies, and USB cables as the Trimble S-Series total stations for optimal use of existing accessories. Also, in the development phase, no new suppliers needed to be sourced and visited.
Core parts of the scanner are made of recyclable materials with a minimal environmental impact. The enclosed design helped earn the X7 an Ingress Protection rating of IP55 for dust and water jet protection and an industry-leading operating temperature range of -20°C to 50°C.
As the first scanner with a 2-year warranty and with the ability to perform Field Calibration, there will be no need for annual calibrations to minimise returns to the dealer or the manufacturer for service over its lifespan.
Thanks to its ability to fully complete the job in the field (registration, refinement, export), the user will not need to return to the job site afterward, eliminating costly (time, money, environment) rework and travels.


SiteVision for Cadastral Surveyors

SiteVision is a great tool for visualising data but what value does it provide to me as a Cadastral Surveyor?

Great question.

SiteVision has three main uses for Cadastral Surveyors:

  1. Finding survey monuments for the origin of your survey (Point of Beginning)
  2. Communicating property line information, including natural boundaries, to your clients
  3. Checking occupation against property lines to check for encroachment

Let’s look at this in more detail.


UPG and SITECH double up to get council operations on grade

UPG’s Josh Weckert and SITECH’s Dillon Harding have teamed up to provide the total solution for a rural council.

The pair delivered and installed GCS900 Grade Control on a Wentworth Shire Council grader, a Cat® 140M, and also delivered on-site training.

“The council acquired an R10 GNSS and TSC7 controller from UPG several months before the purchase of the machine control equipment and employed it to assist the civil work among other purposes,” Josh said.

“UPG surveyed the vacant block and created a small road design for the grader and the off-machine equipment,” Dillon said.

“We spent the morning with the guys helping them come to grips with the total station and switching to machine control mode.”

“We also talked about grader best practices and general benching techniques then cut some passes with the machine.”

Josh had Trimble SiteVision running in the background so the council engineers could see the same road design that was in the machine, giving them a greater understanding of the solutions on offer.

“The reaction from the council team, especially SiteVision, was very positive,” Dillon said.

“SiteVision is a major a step forward and, among other advantages, is an amazing way to showcase jobs to projects managers and investors.”

The council is undertaking a section of road redevelopment soon as well as a proposed re-development of the Mildura Aerodrome, in which a tight tolerance is paramount.

“Council representatives came to our demo day in Adelaide last year and saw the live display of our solutions in hardware and software,” Dillon said.

“The decision was made from that experience to outfit the grader with the complete package so the council could do the aerodrome job itself rather than sub-contract it.”

You can find out more about SiteVision, Trimble’s outdoor augmented reality system, here.

To learn more about how Trimble and UPG can help your operations reach new levels of accuracy, efficiency and safety, call us on 1800 800 874.

All in a days work for R10

For more than 30 years, Trimble has been developing GNSS that advance the capabilities of the surveyor, enabling efficient and accurate data capture in the field. The Trimble R10 is no exception.

With powerful technologies that go beyond comprehensive GNSS support, the Trimble R10 enables the surveyor to collect more reliable data no matter what the job … and sometimes in the face of adversity.

For Trimble R10 GNSS 5614XXXXXX (serial number withheld to protect its real identity) life has not been easy. Supplied to a survey company in Australia by UPG (Ultimate Positioning Group) in mid-2016, ‘she’ was immediately put to work, performing feature surveys, helping with control networks on several large energy infrastructure projects and saving its owners plenty of time in the field.

In mid-2017 though, things took a tragic turn when 5614XXXXXX, or Kit 4 as she was affectionately known around the office, went missing, stolen from a company vehicle under the cover of darkness. Search parties were sent out and tears were shed. UPG was contacted and a loaner immediately supplied. But things were not quite the same. Kit 4 was a valued member of the team and was sorely missed.

But a miracle came! Soon after her disappearance there was a buzz about the office when a call came in that one of the surveyors had spotted a yellow Pelican case bobbing about in a nearby lake. Kit 4 had been found.

Her case had some water inside it, but otherwise she was in perfect working condition. A little wipe down to remove some lake sediment and slime and a quick benchmark test to prove her accuracy and then Kit 4 was sent to UPG for a once over.

After passing with flying colours, Kit 4 was back in the field. Some more engineering work was on the cards and it was a busy winter and spring for her with many surveys to complete.

But an R10’s life is not that easy sometimes. In November Kit 4 was deployed to a construction site and entrusted into the care of a contractor. In what can only be described as a catastrophe for positional avoidance, Kit 4 was again in the thick of things when a grader caught Kit 4 unaware and she was mowed down.

But the show must go on. The day’s work had to be done and thankfully, despite her near-death experience, Kit 4 was still in operational condition and a quick benchmark check gave everyone the confidence required for her to carry on.

At the time of writing, Trimble R10 GNSS Kit 4 is still working hard in field. She will be sent to UPG soon for some minor cosmetic work to repair the damage caused by the grader. The service technicians reckon it will buff right out and she’ll be back in the field in no time at all.

From all of us at UPG, we wish Kit 4 well … but after all, this is the level of service that our customers have come to expect from Trimble and UPG over the years.