Tech on Tour
Topcon Technology Roadshow offers industry professionals insights and hands-on experience.
Think of it as the best of both worlds: an opportunity to learn firsthand about the dramatic advances being made in positioning and control equipment/systems for construction, earthmoving, survey, etc., and the ability to try those technologies out in a truly interactive environment. That, in a nutshell describes the Topcon Technology Roadshow, which started its 28-stop North American tour in mid-February and recently set up shop in Green Cove Springs, Fla. There, for three days, personnel from Topcon, Lengemann Corporation and a number of manufacturer’s representatives offered local contractors, municipal officials, engineers, DOT attendees and others, insight into technology that has and will continue to reshape their respective fields. While a picture might tell a thousand words, ten minutes with a piece of equipment speaks volumes.
Shelter From the Storm
In weather that many thought more representative of Montana than northern Florida, the Lengemann stop on the Roadshow circuit literally opened to “brisk” business on March 13. Fortunately for those in attendance, the centerpiece of every event is a 53-foot semi-trailer, which converts to a mobile solutions center, complete with a fully-stocked showroom, learning area and mini-auditorium. With coffee and donuts in hand, registered guests got a close-up look at the industry’s latest and most innovative technology, followed by a video presentation spotlighting what Topcon calls the “Intersection of Infrastructure and Technology”— that point at which construction productivity is improved by applying advanced technology solutions.
“An opportunity like this, in which someone has the ability to see the technology up close, learn its strengths and the benefits it provides, then ask any questions that might follow, is invaluable,” said Scott Langbein, Topcon Positioning Group director of marketing in the Americas. “In addition to our mainline machine control systems, we also showcased solutions for building construction, survey/mapping, paving construction and more. Also, this year we’ve added a third day at most stops, which will be used to provide participants with more in-depth learning opportunities and it’s already proving popular.”
At the Green Cove Springs stop, the event was held on a 42-acre property recently purchased by Vallencort Construction, already a huge proponent of GNSS technology. According to Daniel Vallencort, company vice president, despite owning more than 30 machine control and survey-related systems, he was still interested in the goings-on at the Roadshow.
“In this business, you have to stay abreast of the advances being made in technology in order to maintain whatever competitive edge you have,” he said. “We were fortunate to have recognized the direction the industry was taking with regard to GPS and adapted early on. Having said that, we can’t afford to be complacent — we have to keep moving forward — and an event like this is an excellent opportunity to see what might be the next ’big thing’ for us.”
Looking to Upgrade
Interest in what the Topcon Roadshow had to offer was undoubtedly bolstered by the impressive pace of development happening throughout the Sunshine State. As a result, attendees from as far away as the Florida/Alabama border — almost a six-hour drive — were in attendance. While a sense of overall curiosity prevailed, some came with a very specific solution in mind — and were not disappointed.
“We came here today to see it all, but we definitely had a focus on the stringless paving solution Topcon has to offer,” said Carlton Nelson, project manager for M of Tallahassee, Inc. “Right now we are doing things conventionally but going stringless is on our radar. The ability to off-load the paving machine, calibrate it and immediately start paving — including the ability to easily do islands with a tight radius — would be a game changer for us. I spent some time with Dane Peters from Topcon as well as Stuart Hasty and Craig Pruett from PowerCurbers and liked what I saw.”
For James “Bubba” Norton, co-owner of Lake City-based Norton Home Improvement, the opportunity to, in a sense, test-drive the systems he was interested in was key.
“John Fisher from Lengemann made us aware that the Roadshow would be happening and I’m glad he did,” he said. “We currently have Topcon 3D-MC2 on our dozer but we are interested in that same kind of control for a motor grader — to do road work, truck stop parking lots and so on — as well as an excavator. I put several systems through the paces out there and it really helped me better understand how it could work for us. It was a great opportunity that you don’t often get.”
Throughout the years that Topcon has conducted its North American Roadshow, the company has learned that attendee interest is not limited solely to the outside demo area. Many get their answers inside the solutions center. At a previous event hosted by Benchmark Tool & Supply in Mebane, N.C., that was the case with an estimator for a regional concrete contractor.
“I like the concept of having so many instruments available in one room,” said Devaki Ektare of Select Concrete Construction Company. “We currently use Topcon’s LN-100, but I like that I can ask about any instrument and what it does, then think about how we can use it in our company. It’s a really good idea to showcase all this technology.”
At that same show, Andy Couturier, civil manager for Fayetteville, N.C.-based Horne Brothers Construction also appreciated the wealth of solutions made available to him. He was, however, particularly taken by Siteview, an add-on to the Sitelink3D job site management solution, which allows users in an office setting to see in 3D what is happening real-time on job sites.
“I walked through the display areas, watched the video, and saw many of the demonstrations,” he said. “What really got my attention, though, was that 3D viewer. To be able to see a job as it is at the beginning, show my guys what the whole job site looks like, show them what we need to do with it, get a look at what our tight points are, and so on, that was impressive. Being able to do all that in 3D puts a whole different outlook on it.”
The Topcon 2018 Technology Roadshow continues on through late October and, when wrapped up, will have brought its solution-based message to professionals in more than 20 states and five Canadian provinces.