No More Waiting for Points: CECO Concrete Construction Saves Time and Money with Robotic Total Stations

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CECO Concrete Construction has been in the concrete industry for over 100 years. Founded in 1912, the leading concrete subcontractor has 18 offices nationwide and has worked on all kinds of projects, from parking garages and high-rise hotels to hospitals and sports stadiums. Its most recent project is the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. With projects of this size and scope, time is money and the more control a subcontractor has over the total process and schedule, the better. 

That’s why CECO, which began as primarily a formwork company, has since expanded its scope to include layout. Now, rather than having to wait on surveyors and contractors to deliver points, CECO is able to generate them on their own. This enables field crews to get to work faster.

“It’s nice because we don’t have to wait for our points, anymore – we can use our own equipment,” said Carolina Kumanchik, lead formwork engineer for CECO’s Florida office.

And as the company’s scope has expanded, its equipment and technology have also improved. In 2011, CECO began the company-wide transition from 2D CAD drawings to 3D modeling with a series of classes and tutorials. Today, 100% of the company is using Revit for 3D modeling and three of its largest offices – Seattle,Tampa, and Minneapolis – have made the transition to robotic total stations.

The Tampa office initially purchased four Leica iCON robot 60 total stations and tablet field controllers and recently purchased three more.

These robotic total stations allow for one-person construction layout. One layout person carries the pole/prism/controller assembly while the robotic total station scans for their exact location.

“With the robotic total stations, a single person can layout the entire building by himself, which saves us a lot of time and money and frees our crews to focus on other aspects of the project,” said Kumanchik. “The field crews love them.”

Though there was some initial resistance to making the switch to robotic total stations because it meant learning a new technology and one less crewmember in the field, the

Leica iCON software has made the transition from manual total station software menus easy and the large screen tablet controller allows for touchscreen access to the background drawing and points.

“There was a little resistance in the beginning, but once they got their hands on the iCON system, they loved it. The iCON series is geared towards building construction with a big screen like a tablet and familiar menus and features that our guys are used to,” Kumanchik said. “Leica came out to train us and by the end of the day, the layout crew knew how to use it.”

By the end of the summer, CECO expects to have 12 large projects in progress in south Florida alone and will need additional robotic total stations.

“Right now, we have two manual total stations and four robotic ones and are in the process of buying three more robotics,” said Kumanchik.

CECO says it was functionality, price and service that ultimately attracted the company to Leica Geosystems.

“Our formwork engineers draw the concrete structure in Revit and then use Autodesk Point Layout to create the points they need in the field. We create the file with the points and they can go online, get the file, and download it into the controller right away,” Kumanchik said. “When our guys get stuck, they call Leica directly and always get answers quickly. We know we can trust Leica. They always listen to what we need and make us feel like a priority, which is very rewarding.”

To learn more, download the free ebook Streamlined Construction Layout: A Contractor’s Guide to Saving Money and Dramatically Reducing Layout Time or contact us.

Jim Hattori began his surveying career nearly 30 years ago while still in high school. After attending the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Jim held positions with a number of prominent surveying and engineering firms, including Kapur and Associates, HNTB Corp. and Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik and Associates. As the eastern region construction positioning sales manager for Leica Geosystems, Jim works closely with both dealers and end users, helping them learn about technology innovations and find ways to work more efficiently. He can be reached at jim.hattori@leicaus.com.

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