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Q&A with Allan Hosking of GeoSLAM dealer Survey Solutions

Last Updated on 25th April 2022

In this Q&A we speak to Allan Hosking, Director at Survey Solutions over in Tauranga, New Zealand. Allan has over 30 years experience in the survey and spatial industry and has worked all over the world. Here we learn how GeoSLAM is helping his customers overcome challenges in a range of industries and applications and how they benefit using GeoSLAM over traditional tripod scanning.

Allan with the ZEB Discovery, used for urban mapping

Could you tell us a little bit about Survey Solutions and its background?

SURVEY SOLUTIONS is based in New Zealand, so geographically isolated from the rest of the world. I trained as a land surveyor and graduated in 1989 from survey school at Otago University in New Zealand, where I then spent the next few decades working around the world in the Middle East, South East Asia, and United Kingdom. Since 2000, I have been extensively involved with 3D laser scanners and have a passion and interest in this area. It’s always interesting and each day is never the same with the customers and applications always unique and varied. When returning to New Zealand in 2010 I established SURVEY SOLUTIONS as a supplier of 3D laser scanners and GNSS equipment.

How long have you been working with GeoSLAM?  

I first discovered GeoSLAM when I was working with a client 6 years ago who I was providing a tripod 3D laser scanning service to. The client had just purchased a GeoSLAM ZEB1, the Zebedee on a spring, and wanted to compare the ZEB1 to a terrestrial tripod scan dataset. The customer suggested SURVEY SOLUTIONS should distribute the products in New Zealand as there was not a local distributor and that’s how it started.

  The ZEB1

What sectors are your customers working in?

Our customers are a varied and mixed bunch. Half the customers are traditional land surveyors, and the other half are consultants, engineers, designers, movie companies and universities

What challenges are your customers facing?

Time has become the most valuable commodity. There is never enough time, and this is the biggest challenge.  Customers are being put under more pressure to meet tighter deadlines. Finding experienced and qualified land surveyors and spatial professionals is difficult as there is a shortage. Extracting useable deliverables from 3D pointclouds in an efficient manner has been a challenge for the last 20 years in the 3D scanning industry.

Managing big data generated by traditional tripod scanners is always a challenge. In addition, data security is critical for safe guarding the customers data and honouring non-disclosure agreements with clients. With COVID creating havoc on the world and people’s movements, there’s pressure being put on companies to create more digital twins of their projects and assets.

How does GeoSLAM technology help to solve these challenges?

The GeoSLAM products are very portable and light weight. Within minutes of arriving at a site the operator is traveling through the work area surveying in detail complex scenes as quickly as they can travel through the space. With the flexibility of deployment by hand, suspended on a cradle in a manhole/lift shaft, on a vehicle or from the air by drone/UAV makes the most challenging of sites easily measured. Sites that would normally take several hours or days to survey by traditional tripod 3D scanners or total station can now be measured in minutes using a GeoSLAM device.

The operation of GeoSLAM products is simple and can be operated by all employees in a company. Minimal training is required with training videos being adequate to competently train staff. Power the unit on, push the start button and then off you go measuring a site. Staff members traveling to site for other purposes can also accurately survey the site using GeoSLAM in a multi-tasking manner.

Back in the office the GeoSLAM Hub software is installed on the customers PC in their office ensuring total control and security over the data. GeoSLAM Draw software can create, in minutes, Autodesk DWG 2D plans, elevations and cross sections of the 3D pointclouds for consumption of the data in any CAD package that supports DWG. The data files generated by GeoSLAM products are significantly smaller than traditional tripod 3D scanners. Sharing of the data is easily achieved due to the smaller file sizes. Using GeoSLAM will minimise time on site during these troublesome COVID times.

What makes GeoSLAM stand out?

Behind the scenes the SLAM algorithm is a complex beast that GeoSLAM have jointly built up with CSIRO and continue to develop and refine over the last 12 years, making the SLAM the most reliable and stable SLAM on the market which has been proven by thousands of projects all over the world.

The GeoSLAM solution is modular making it easy to upgrade and customise for specific customer needs.

The adjust to control (A2C) feature makes it very easy to transform the 3D pointcloud to a local site coordinate system and an accuracy root mean square (RMS) report is generated showing the actual accuracy of the data collected. In addition, the pointcloud can be adjusted and scaled to better fit the underlying survey control if required.