Industrial technology vendor Trimble Inc. has announced new software offerings designed to improve project efficiency and productivity, boost use of data, reduce waste and streamline communication among members of a project team.

A new collaboration between Trimble and Hilti Group allows contractors to track tools and allocate them to jobs through a new integration between the latter's ON!Track asset management system and the former's Viewpoint Vista ERP and Construction One suite.

Hilti's tracking system is based on Bluetooth-based tags on tools and other important assets. Contractors will be able to automatically see where and when equipment was used for invoicing without manual data entry.  The company announced the new services and displayed in-development technology during its Dimensions+ conference, held Nov. 7 to 9 in Las Vegas.

“This connects the field to finance, where the ON!Track mobile app assigns and tracks tools to workers and jobsites and automatically ties that utilization data back to the job in the financial system to help you accurately manage true costs with zero effort from your accounting team,” said Lawrence Smith, Trimble vice president and general manager of construction management solutions. 

The firm also unveiled the latest results of its ongoing work with Microsoft: the Trimble Construction Cloud powered by Microsoft Azure. Using the cloud service, project team members can collaborate in a common data environment, said Chris Keating, Trimble senior vice president of strategy, adding that it will smooth handoffs from architects to engineers to contractors to owners. 

The cloud service includes three preconfigured workflows for MEP procurement, structural steel fabrication and civil site management. Users can also customize their own workflows. The cloud enables live sharing across different Trimble software and supports integration of non-Trimble software through a developer portal so those users can also collaborate over Trimble Construction Cloud.

“We have to start from the customer and work backwards, and they’re asking the whole industry to work better together,” Keating said. 

Site Automation Advances

Trimble also noted new developments in automation in layouts, surveying and in heavy equipment.

Hewlett Packard Siteprint layout robots now are compatible with Trimble’s latest robotic total station layout hardware for indoor construction projects. Managers from artificial intelligence-equipped drone maker Exyn Technologies, which is partnering with Trimble to explore autonomous surveying, demonstrated a proof-of-concept Boston Dynamics Spot robot equipped with both firms' technology to map construction sites for monitoring quality and progress. 

A heavy equipment operator demonstrated a proof-of-concept remote-controlled dozer working in conjunction with a prototype automated excavator, while an automated Dynapac compactor was working autonomously.

Cameron Clark, Trimble earthmoving industry director, said compactor operators typically have 40% to 45% drum overlap to ensure they do not miss a spot, but the IT firm's automation can allow a contractor to instead define the area that needs to be compacted and allow the machine to plot its own course for efficiency to save time and fuel.

The conference also featured demonstrations of some technology still in development. A head-worn neural input control allowed users to drive a toy car with their thoughts after just a few minutes of training. Aviad Almagor, Trimble vice president of technology innovation, said the technology may find use in real-world applications such as monitoring heavy equipment operator comfort with machinery, or if level of drowsiness to continue safe working.

Trimble also announced that its Dimensions+ event, which had been held every other year before a pandemic-driven pause, will now become an annual.

“Technology is accelerating at a pace that I never experienced before,” Almagor said. “It’s amazing to see how fast things are moving.”