New KOREC case study: Optimising the PDC workflow

How PDC's Sam Snowling fine-tuned the company’s Trimble workflow with three straightforward steps to create a field to finish solution that’s saving time, enhancing client deliverables and setting up the business for future growth.

How PDC’s Sam Snowling fine-tuned the company’s Trimble workflow with three straightforward steps to create a field to finish solution that’s saving time, enhancing client deliverables and setting up the business for future growth.

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Established in 1979, PDC initially operated as a family-run, multi-diciplinary Civil and Structural Engineering Consultancy. However, in 2016, it underwent a transformative shift, becoming an employee-owned company. This structural change enables all employees to have a significant stake in the business whilst also preserving the company’s founding principles of traditional family values, honesty and integrity.

This structure ensures that every member of the PDC team has a voice, creating a  forward-looking and motivated environment that encourages the sharing of innovative ideas.

For recently appointed Senior Suveyor, Sam Snowling, PDC’s set up has allowed him to immediately enhance several factors in the company’s workflow, all of which would dramatically improve productivity and enhance its client offering.

For a small team, the PDC surveyors are well equipped with an extensive KOREC supplied portfolio of Trimble survey instruments. This includes GNSS, Total Stations, Trimble’s groundbreaking SX10 Scanning Total Station, Access field software and Trimble Business Center (TBC) office software. TBC is Trimble’s ‘one software does it all’ field-to-finish survey CAD solution designed to handle and process data from multiple sensors.

However, Sam felt that with this extensive range of Trimble technology in place, it would be valuable to invest time in reshaping the workflow to align entirely with their Trimble systems. Drawing on his extensive background with a different manufacturer’s instruments and software, he was able to swiftly identify distinctive Trimble features that were either new to him or could be seamlessly integrated into PDC’s daily operations to improve both field workflow and office processing productivity.

One of Sam’s first aims was to rewrite the code library making it Trimble specific. By using the Feature Definition Manager in TBC, Sam could create each text file with an FXL extension containing the definition of each code including attributes, linework, symbology and control codes. He could also create his own symbols. Using these Trimble feature codes would standardise how the team carried out projects, increase productivity in the field and the office and improve visualisation of collected data back in the office.

Out in the field, Sam and the team could now see the feature codes on screen rather than just as a single dot. Additionally, different colours differentiated each feature bringing further peace of mind to the team who could visually check that every point has been collected before leaving the site.  

Sam was also able to use functionality that allowed him to set up a block for trees using trunk and spread measurements to create the tree to scale on screen, a nice check to ensure the correct tree size before leaving site.

The implementation of the feature library also allowed the team to seamlessly transition between jobs while maintaining consistent data capture.

If Sam’s first step with TBC was to rewrite the feature code library, his second was to make better use of its processing powers. Previously the team had only been using TBC to import scan data. However, Sam was aware that it was designed to combine data from multiple sensors and knew that complex jobs, such as a recent measured building survey of a listed house in Norfolk, could be undertaken far more efficiently by using a range of sensors and then easily combing the 2D and 3D data in TBC. Also, with all data imported into a single file, it was straight forward to carry out comparison checks for any overlapping data.

On the listed building project, Sam estimated that the field work was reduced from 3 days to 1 day by using a mix of sensors, including a 3D laser scanner, and back in the office the data was easily combined to create a high accuracy, high quality deliverable for the client.

Sam’s third step was to ensure that all members of the team were equipped with Trimble Sync Manager, a file synchronisation service that allows data to be shared instantly between the office and the field. This is a free service for Trimble Access users and comes with one of Sam’s most used features, the auto upload, which sends data to the cloud every hour, especially useful for peace of mind on larger projects.

Having introduced these three changes to PDC’s workflow in the six months since his introduction to Trimble technology, Sam feels that the benefits are obvious. “I’ve found it really easy to switch from one manufacturer’s hardware and software to another and it’s been interesting to bring in some new approaches to our workflow. It’s hard to say what’s been most beneficial – if I had to pinpoint just one thing, I couldn’t!

“The whole workflow now saves us so much time and has brought us a new level of peace of mind on site, knowing that the data we are collecting is accurate and of the highest quality. But it’s not just the software  ̶  one of our most obvious gains in site time has been the ability to keep working in the rain with all the Trimble instruments. This allows us to schedule our site time far more effectively and it’s extremely rare that weather conditions mean we have to curtail a working day. However, what’s most important is that our clients are extremely complimentary on the quality of our deliverable and it’s always on time.”

Sam concludes, “The Trimble hardware and software are reliable and efficient, and this has been backed up by a brilliant service from KOREC from both their training department on TBC and from the technical support team. Moving over to TBC will ensure we futureproof our survey workflow, and will allow for us easily integrate new employees to our survey workflow in the future.”

Auto upload of data from the field, every hour, for peace of mind

Trimble Connect’s free cloud transfer for syncing with the office and each other

Ability to see predefined feature codes on screen without having to place them manually

Easy adoption of Trimble workflow despite no previous Trimble experience

Weatherproof features of Trimble technology

Intuitive workflow in place for future growth

KOREC support and training

About PDC: Originally established in 1979 as Plandescil Ltd, a family-run Engineering Consultancy, the company started its transformative journey in July 2016, transitioning to an employee-owned company. Its recent rebrand to PDC Engineering and move to a new, purpose-built office, allows it to better serve its clients and foster innovation.

Sam Snowling