Rivers had been using a Trimble total station data collector at the Texas Department of Transportation, a job he held until striking out on his own. "I was putting together my own business, and I knew I couldn't afford the $20,000 to $40,000 I knew I'd have to pay for the kind of equipment the DOT used. So I did some reading and began looking at the Thales ProMark2 system and decided to buy it. It's extremely affordable and offers centimeter-level accuracy and good navigation capabilities in the same package," said Rivers.
At $5,500 for the two-receiver system, Rivers can't say enough about what the system has done for him. "I'm getting many of these jobs done three to five times faster than with the total station equipment," he said. "I've done 10,000- to 15,000-acre ranch surveys in a few days that would have taken me weeks in the past. For example, I recently surveyed a 14,000-acre ranch that had very rough terrain. The entire field survey took approximately five hours, a huge improvement over the amount of time it would have taken using the conventional total station method."
With total stations, Rivers claims he'd have had to employ at least one other person, maybe two, and the team would have been limited by line of sight -- no small matter when the section corners are far apart and line of sight is a problem.
For big jobs Rivers mounts the ProMark2 units to his Honda four-wheeler. "The arrangement means I can keep moving along very nicely and efficiently. The system has a great ability to stay initialized; however if you lose initialization, you still have the option of changing to static mode instead of returning to the base for re-initialization."
What all this means for his business is that Rivers is maximizing the number of projects he can do. In all of 2003, he completed 55 projects, mostly using total station equipment. This year, he's done 105 jobs just in the first six months. He can usually schedule and complete a job within a week of the time the customer calls. "I honestly believe the ProMark2 has been a key element in allowing me to keep a tight schedule," he said.
"Right now, I'm using the two-receiver ProMark2 package. I'm tentatively planning on upgrading to three or four receivers in light of the amount of work I'm taking on," Rivers added. "I know the extra receiver or two would be a big help. I'd be able to use one receiver as a base and at least two as rovers, which would save me considerable time, plus create a much better network."
POB magazine plans to publish a story by Russell Rivers in its November 2004 issue.
Thales is an international electronics and systems group serving the defense, aerospace and security markets. The group employs 61,500 people worldwide and generated revenues of �10.6 billion in 2003.
Thales' navigation business is one of the world's leaders in positioning, navigation and guidance equipment with global operations. Thales markets its Magellan® brand GPS solutions in the consumer electronics, recreation, and automotive markets, and its GPS and GNSS professional products in the survey, GIS/Mapping, and OEM markets. Through its joint venture with Hertz, Thales has developed the Hertz NeverLost® vehicle navigation system. Thales key innovations include the first U.S. commercial hand-held GPS receiver for positioning and navigation, and the first handheld GPS with industry standard Secure Digital Memory Card capabilities.
Thales' navigation business is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif. with European headquarters in Carquefou, France. For more information, visit www.thalesnavigation.com.
© 2004 Thales SA. All rights reserved. ProMark2 and Magellan are trademarks of Thales. Hertz NeverLost is a registered trademark of Hertz Systems, Inc.