Trimble Catalyst – the story behind the numbers!

Who benefits? Looking at the business case for low-cost cm positions with Trimble Catalyst user Alan Roberts, Owner/Director of DTM Technologies.

If surveying isn’t your main day to day activity but you still have a need for cm positions in your workflow, then the business case for Trimble’s Catalyst is a strong one.

Trimble Catalyst – The easiest and most cost-effective solution for occasional cm positions and now Android and iOS compatible

Trimble Catalyst is a revolutionary, GNSS concept delivering positioning as a service to mobile devices. It turns your existing Android or iOS device into a precision mapping, navigation and measurement tool that you can use with any location enabled app or service including KOREC Capture and Esri FieldMaps.

The cost of the Catalyst hardware has been kept low at just £300 per receiver and subscriptions come in a range of choices depending on the number of licenses required and hours used.

However, Trimble Catalyst is not a solution for those who cite survey grade accuracy as the primary part of their working day. Instead, Catalyst has been developed for users who require cm positions as back up to the bulk of their work, for example, the scientist who needs to know precisely where a sample was collected, the utilities engineer who needs to position a valve or the knotweed removal specialist who must know exactly where the plant is located.

In short, the best way to assess whether Trimble Catalyst will provide the best value proposition for your cm positions is to base it on the number of points you typically over the period of a year.

Case study: DTM Technologies

Typical of the type of user who can benefit from the enormous savings Catalyst delivers is Owner/Director of DTM Technologies, Alan Roberts.

Established in 2014, North Wales based DTM Technologies offers a range of specialist 3D Structural and 3D Modelling Services capturing data predominantly through 3D Laser Scanning and drones. The company uses the very latest in data capture technology (Including the Trimble TX8 Laser Scanner) and provides the high resolution and accurate survey, mapping and environmental information that’s often used to form the basis of any construction (BIM), environmental or engineering project.

With the majority of Alan’s work requiring either a point cloud or aerial imagery, he has an important but fairly minimal need for cm positions. Six years ago, his approach was to purchase a survey grade GNSS system and a license for the corresponding annual correction service. However, he is quick to cite that he is not an engineer or a degree trained surveyor and during the years with this system, he found it expensive to use. As well as the up-front costs for the initial purchase of the hardware, he was also paying an annual correction service charge of around £1,200 p.a. – both large outlays. He therefore sought a solution that would better fit his requirements, spread the cost and offer better value overall.

Alan accordingly purchased a Trimble Catalyst receiver from KOREC and selected the subscription service best suited to his workflow from the options of 60 cm, 30 cm, 10 cm or 1 cm, in this case 1cm. The Catalyst antenna was compatible with his existing mobile phone, easy to set up and required no specialist positioning or GNSS knowledge for use.

The Business case in numbers

Alan states that in a standard working month he may carry out around four surveys that require cm positions and that he can capture the four or five points he requires plus a few check points in one hour of subscription time. He is therefore spending just £10 per site for cm positions, around four times a month. Based on those figures, with the subscription cost spread over a 12 month period, his annual running costs are £480.

Hardware: Initial outlay for GNSS system and controller (approx)£10,000
Annual correction service charge              £1200
Hardware: Catalyst Receiver for use with Alan’s own phone£300
Subscription: On demand at £10 per hour based on typical annual use£480

Upfront hardware savings £9600

Annual running cost savings £760 p.a.

Alan Roberts with his Trimble Catalyst

As an experienced user of Trimble Catalyst, even Alan still believes that that system is almost too good to be true. “With Trimble Catalyst, achieving cm accuracy in the field is no longer a niche occupied only by land surveyors, often with the price tag to match. Previously, I was pretty well priced out of the market for this level of accuracy but Catalyst really does bring high cm positions to a mass audience. I’m now in a good position to pass my savings on to my clients which definitely helps in a competitive marketplace.”

Next steps – the new Catalyst DA2

Alan was an early adopter of the Trimble Catalyst system and is already assessing the recently released DA2 receiver.

With much of his work in Snowdonia, mobile phone reception is often compromised and even taking three different SIM cards doesn’t always guarantee a successful connection. The DA2 comes with RTX corrections which means he will no longer be reliant on receiving his cm corrections over an internet connection. Thanks to Trimble’s RTX technology he will be able to get his corrections via satellite.

In addition, the DA2’s ProPoint technology will enable him to pick up his positions in challenging GPS conditions such as near tree canopy.

You can read about our DA2 test here.

A related case study on knotweed mapping with Catalyst is here and asset data collection here.

Visit our webinar section here for the full details on the new Catalyst system.