Integrating Software and Hardware Technology in the Field

Field technology has advanced increasingly in recent years. Combing the advancing software with hardware in the field can significantly improver performance on the jobsite.
By Bryan Williams
March 12, 2024

Today’s construction projects are more complicated than ever, and a project’s success relies heavily on its attention to detail and the coordination of various moving parts. Every small oversight or clash in the design process can have a substantial impact on the overall schedule as well as the environment. Reducing these delays is no easy feat, but with an accurate, constructible model, contractors everywhere are doing just that.

By leveraging constructible building information model data alongside field technologies like robotic total stations, 3D scanners and mixed or augmented reality, contractors are not only able to identify issues early, but can improve the design and execution of the project in real-time. These tools are often used for quality assurance and quality control before work is done which can significantly reduce rework and wasted materials.

Let’s take a closer look at how contractors are using these tools on the jobsite for improving productivity and sustainability.


New digital tools are helping to seamlessly integrate construction workflows and provide layout professionals with access to constructible 3D models created by designers and detailers along with all the corresponding metadata. This data-driven approach empowers layout professionals to move beyond manual processes and leverage technology advances to meet the demands of increasingly complex projects, all while working faster and with unprecedented accuracy.

Taking a natural step beyond the capabilities of the total stations of previous decades, a robotic total station reduces the opportunity for human error and frees up contractors and layout professionals for other, higher-priority work. Controlled remotely using a tablet or controller, one person can handle even the most complex layout tasks without needing to be a trained survey professional. In addition, advanced 3D models also provide powerful visualization options, such as photographic documentation and augmented reality-style overlays. The utility of these tools is enhanced by layout software solutions designed specifically for building contractors for true connectivity between the office and the field.


Scanning technology has also evolved to a point where it is easy for professionals with little or no scanning field expertise to scan a jobsite and produce a comprehensive multi-station view of the entire work area. 3D laser scanners can deliver dense point clouds with color images of the space. Recent innovations enable the work to be reviewed and produced right in the field on a tablet as each scan is collected. This data is also recorded in the system, making it easy for contractors to go back and review the scans and ensure greater accountability for their work.

Using robotic total stations and 3D scanners together, contractors can confirm and execute a design both in the preconstruction environment and during construction.

For example, on a recent project, KRS Electric was able to avoid costly rework using 3D scanning technology early on in the process. Using the Trimble X7 to scan an specific area, they noticed that the footings were off by six inches. Fortunately, this was discovered before the concrete slab and columns were poured, so they were able to tweak the bolts in the fittings and avoid having to break up the concrete after it was poured and dried. This not only saved them time and money but also helped reduce the environmental impact of having to break up the existing concrete, dispose of it and then pour new concrete at the site.


As immersive technologies like augmented reality and mixed reality continue to advance, many business leaders recognize the value of these tools as fundamental elements for visualizing complex data and supporting more information-rich experiences. A wide range of these types of extended reality solutions are providing real-world benefits to those in the construction industry. Removing the constraints of 2D screens allows for improved quality project delivery through better collaboration and visualization. These technologies are now purpose-built to bring extended reality to the construction worksite and adapted to perform in rugged, safety-controlled industrial environments.

Augmented and mixed reality can enable new field-oriented workflows to leverage 3D content in daily work tasks to improve efficiency, productivity and quality of work. For example, augmented reality can be used to automatically place models on site within centimeters of accuracy for positioning and measurement. Mixed reality can improve ROI by identifying potential clashes ahead of time. Training new workers and increasing collaboration between the office and the field is also easily facilitated leveraging mixed reality.

For another example, project engineers at Bowen Engineering have discovered firsthand the value of using mixed reality for clash detection when they found a clash between the existing structural steel in a facility and a valve in the model. Since the clash was caught before construction had begun, they were able to adjust the model, validate that the environment was 100% accurate, and avoid the entire expense and hassle of correcting the clash during construction.

As technology in the construction industry continues to advance, integrating new software and hardware solutions can save contractors both time and money while improving overall execution. There is no better time to optimize projects and ensure success.

by Bryan Williams
Bryan Williams is portfolio manager at Trimble. For more information, visit

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