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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Topcon debuts BIM 3D Layout and LN-100 at Autodesk University 2013

December 9th, 2013 by Susan Smith

TopCon founded in 1932, is a global positioning company that today has divided its focus into positioning, smart infrastructure and eye care.


The company has had a number of significant “world’s firsts:”

  • Coaxial total station
  • Greenbeam laser
  • Dual-constellation GPS
  • Integrated GNSS receiver system
  • Fully integrated dozer grade control system

Mark Contino, vice president, global marketing for TopCon, talked about their new BIM 3D Layout System and the LN-100 for which they have collaborated with Autodesk.

While the BIM 3D Layout System is a building information modeling 3D layout system, it has bearing on the GIS market because it embodies the positioning technology that Topcon is so well known for.

According to Contino, the global population will increase by 30% by 2020. What is needed to support that added infrastructure, is not currently available. Today’s construction capabilities are only reaching $24 million spending today, where the demand will be in the area of $60 trillion.

This situation is fueling the collaboration between TopCon and Autodesk to, for one, seamlessly connect office and the field. “It’s a perfect fit, between us who are the leader in positioning, etc. and Autodesk with BIM software,” said Contino. “We are able to take designs created in the office and bring them to life productively in the field. Most construction projects have over 30% invested in waste.”

A lot of the discussion around BIM was about how to remove waste. By getting a better handle on the situation before going on the job site, to know where infrastructure is to be built before building, can help with managing waste.

Contino pointed out that BIM can be used exteriorly as well as interiorly, for under a road, buried pipelines and other underground substructure.

TopCon comes from a deep surveying background and for years, users have depended on their total stations for 3D measuring capability. However, for many people who aren’t surveyors who are engineers and constructors, the surveying instruments “scare them to death.”

Topcon has designed what they call the world’s first 3D positioning system for BIM and construction layout, LN-100 or Layout Navigator that integrates with Autodesk software. It is not a surveying instrument. It leverages Topcon’s laser and robotic total station technologies and is easy to use and highly accurate.

It has no scope or leveling mechanism, it does 360 degree measuring, and it can be used with a computer, Android or iPad and connect seamlessly with Autodesk BIM 360 Cloud. The LN-100 automatically self-levels and is hand-held, with a touch-screen controller. Users can call up large CAD drawings or point layout and display the design point that needs to be staked out, touch it, and the LN-100 laser will immediately point to the exact location. With reference points, the unit is in 3D space based on drawings, and can move anywhere. It has a 360-degree prism just like a surveying unit, and users can control it wirelessly.

“We are looking to expand the use of a 3D measurement tool into a non-traditioanl tool that’s simplified, something easy to learn and use,  and expand that footprint of people using 3D control on their systems,” said Contino.

The LN-100 can also perform an as-built or topo surveys, and can be used anywhere that needs 3D mapping. Its accuracy is equivalent to that of a surveying instrucment but it is repackaged and redesigned so it works for a construction site.

The data workflow takes place in the cloud, and the information can be synced from the office to the field.

The product shipped to dealers in the second week of December.

Pricing – from $14,000 to $19,000 for complete product including software

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Categories: Autodesk, Big Data, cloud, mapping, mobile

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