Arriving on Friday, with Saturday to recover and Sunday to “do Vegas,” we stacked our day starting with a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. This included a champagne breakfast inside the canyon by the Colorado river. Chatting over a glass of bubbly with another tourist on the same trip, it turned out we were both surveyors on the Geosystems track of the Hexagon conference, both specialising in railway survey. Us from the UK, and Ian from Track Link Surveys in Melbourne. We even shared common clients across the continents! It’s a small world.
So, after getting lost in the MGM Grand Casino, walking the strip and watching the sun set over Vegas from the top of the Stratosphere, we were ready for Day 1 – registration and training sessions. Playing the conference networking Four of a Kind game, I registered my four 3’s and left my colleague roaming the halls looking for Queens. Hunting for matching cards and meeting new contacts showed how business cards and printouts are so passé! The Hexagon mobile app synced my agenda, directed me to the talks and scanning QR codes of contacts through the day has replaced my conference notebook.
Training: “It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best” – W. Edwards Deming
Our last training had been in 2006 in San Francisco, and although we were up to date with Cyclone software updates, a number of new best practice procedures and tricks/tips had passed us by. Replacing five key strokes with a hot-key or finding a slicker way to carry out the same task can make all the difference when operations are repeated in a 200-plus scan project. Also, many thanks to my paired computer partner in the training (Ken from SSM group), who filled the gaps in the presentation with even more subtle ways to speed up or quality check our work. Also, when all else fails, we now have our Leica Geosystems trainer’s contact information to get a definitive answer when the chips are down and deadlines are looming.
Training completed, the Geosystems happy hour was a great wind-down to lead us to the TechPark. Two sore feet, 3 hours, 2 plates, 6 beers and 30-plus handshakes later, it’s time to call it a day. Some impressive software and hardware on display; some of which will be useful for us straight away. Others provided potential solutions we can advise to our clients and help them out (if they do well, we do!). So, a lot has changed since purchasing our first scanner in 2004. Looking at the TechPark, the rate of change is still accelerating. Faster, lighter, more efficient and value added with the potential to move into new markets and diversify in your products and services. Change can be turmoil and confusion compared to the comfort of well-tried and proven markets or procedures. So the question is, do you make the jump and try something new?
About the Author
Nick Blenkarn, Severn Partnership, Director
Nick is a Director of the Severn Partnership; a UK-based firm of Chartered Geomatics surveyors. A graduate in Geology (BSc), converting to Geomatics with a Master’s degree (MSc) at University College London. Nick has 23 years of surveying experience and has been involved with 3D laser scanning since 2004.
Being an early adopter of laser scanning, he has managed a variety of survey projects from Kings Cross station refurbishment, to kinematic scanning of the 7km long Severn Railway Tunnel. He is also involved with Wolverhampton University on 3D visualisation and Augmented Reality research projects and has lectured on 3D laser scanning to Oxford, Birmingham and Warwick Universities.
Nick sits on the Education, Professional Development & Membership committee of the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors (CICES), the West Midlands Centre for Construction Excellence (WMCCE) BIM panel and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) BIM working group. With interests in business systems development, Nick has also given talks to the European Union and UK government on cloud computing, and to the UAE International planning conference on laser scanning for heritage building preservation.