French contractor reduces survey costs by 40% by streamlining routine construction site positioning tasks and communication between the field and office.
Established by Pierre Brunet in 1964, Brunet TP originally operated a quarry located in Chateau Gaillard outside of Normandy, France. Fifty years later, the Brunet Group employs approximately 400 associates in France and 150 in Morocco in 11 small-to-medium sized companies. Together these companies are involved in a multitude of construction and development activities. Brunet Group’s scope of work ranges from construction, masonry and excavation work to landscaping and asbestos removal. Most of these 11 companies are located in Ambérieux, France.
The Brunet Group is well known across the region for its expert construction services related to roads and structures, as well as its knowledge and respect for the environment. Brunet Group’s major completed jobs include the completion of the A39 Motorway construction project, a 142 kilometer (88 miles) roadway in eastern France, and an extension of the Grandes Bardes Mixed Development Zone with excavation and sanitation works in Bourg-en-Bresse.
Since most of the company's jobs are located within a 40 kilometers (25 miles) radius of its Ambérieux office in southeast France, the company began to look for ways to optimize its work methods across job sites. Working with Trimble dealer SITECH France, The Brunet Group invested in Trimble SCS900 Site Controller Software to run on the various controllers of the survey crews, Trimble Internet Base Station Service (IBSS) and a SPS855 Site Positioning System to be used as the base station integrating the GNSS corrections for optimal positioning.
- Trimble SCS900 Site Controller Software and Site Positioning Systems gave team the ability to perform a range of positioning and measuring tasks on the construction job site; resulted in time savings, greater independence and seamless information exchanges
- ROI for one rover system is approximately six months
- €4000 (US$4,340) - savings per year in staking costs and VRS subscriptions
- Surveyors used to spend 90% of their time in the field, they now only spend 30% in the field, allowing them to work on several projects in parallel and only travel to the field to conduct verifications
- Cut survey costs by 40%
Accurate site positioning
Trimble SCS900 Site Controller Software was selected because the company wanted to give its construction survey team and superintendents the ability to perform positioning tasks faster and with better accuracy without continually relying on professional surveyors.
The SPS855 base station was installed on the roof of one of the buildings at the Ambérieux headquarters; it broadcasts GPS/GNSS corrections to the company's five mobile Trimble Site Positioning Systems.
"I discovered Trimble's solutions more than five years ago during a SITECH demonstration,” said Fabrice Pépin, head of topography at ODISSEE. “I was employed by another company at the time and used a different brand of equipment, but I have been using Trimble equipment since I came to Brunet two years ago and have been very happy with it. Compared to the previous brand of positioning technology that I used, the SCS900 software is much more intuitive, faster to learn, and designed to make it easy for the team in the field to perform a range of positioning and measuring tasks on the construction job site. Data exchange is very well thought out and easy to perform with topo files, which are very easy to export to other software.”
Pépin explains that the construction site superintendents first greeted the arrival of this equipment with some reluctance. However, after a short learning curve, time savings, greater independence, and seamless information exchanges soon won them over. After just one month using the system, they were all completely independent and able to perform a variety of tasks on the job site that they previously had to wait on someone else to do for them.
Training from SITECH France
Setting up the Trimble Site Positioning Systems required only two days of training from the team at SITECH France.
"The training provided by the engineer who came to see us was very simple, well structured, and got everyone up to speed quickly," said Pépin. “I had only been with ODISSEE for two months when I had to personally train the job site superintendents on how to use the system. It was so easy that even then I could train others how to use it. That just goes to show how simple and intuitive it is."
The training provided the Brunet TP and ODISSEE teams with total autonomy in the use of the technology. Since the training, the Brunet Group teams have not called upon the SITECH France support engineers for anything whatsoever; all new hires are trained internally and the tools are now a fully integral part of the company's operation.
"We are completely autonomous," said Tomasi. "It takes about a week of use to totally master the tool. This is ideal for small and medium companies, because the job site superintendent acquires a multitude of skills, which put responsibility in his hands and simplify the surveyor's work.”
Improved stakeout, grade checking and survey productivity with Trimble SCS900
The investment in Trimble Site Positioning Systems was originally intended for the company's construction survey teams. But at Brunet, job tasks have evolved with the technology and today the job site superintendents continually use this equipment to check whether they are at the right level, and/or to modify the design if needed.
To increase time savings, the design data is sent from the office to the field directly over the Internet. The Trimble controllers contain cellular SIM cards, which combined with the SCS900 software, enable field workers to receive designs from the office in real time, ensuring the most up to date designs are used on site.
"For example, if something in the design needs to be changed, it can all happen instantaneously, there is no need to wait for the surveyors,” said Pascal Tomasi, one of the team members involved with the Grandes Bardes Mixed Development Zone job site. “Likewise, the GPS makes it possible to survey and lay out grids, which allows us to proceed according to the needs, overcome any problems that might be encountered, and to do so with total autonomy."
Tomasi estimates that while in the past, surveyors spent 90% of their time in the field, they now only spend 30%, allowing them to work on several projects in parallel and only travel to the field to conduct verifications. In terms of staff, the use of this system allowed the group to reduce its survey costs by about 40%.
"With a traditional work method, the ODISSEE team would need one or even two more full-time people," said Pépin.
Using the software’s graphical interface on Trimble Site Positioning Systems, Brunet Group users can conduct routine site positioning tasks quickly, such as computing volumes, checking finished grade and laid material, stakeout for earthworks, monitoring for excavation and grading operations and modifying designs,
"Using the system is a plus, because there's no need to wait for the surveyors,” said Pascal Tomasi, job site superintendent working on the enlargement of the Bourg-en-Bresse development zone. “Everything can be organized from one day to the next, as the construction plans are right in front of you. This is what convinced us."
Savings and Safety
By reducing the amount of field travel by surveyors, the Brunet Group has experienced significant fuel savings, time savings, and staking costs. The team estimates they’ve saved approximately €1000 ($1,085 USD) per year in staking costs, and Trimble equipment makes it possible to save on VRS subscriptions, each of which amounts to approximately €3000 ($3,255 USD) per year. Thanks to seamless data exchanges and the time and money saved, the Brunet Group estimates that one rover system will pay for itself in approximately six months.
In addition to saving time and money, job site safety has also improved considerably through the use of technology. At the Bourg-en-Bresse Mixed Development Zone site, for example, site superintendent Tomasi is able to have just one person on foot instead of two or three as in the past.
The Future of the Brunet TP Group
With their strategy of innovation and eco-development, using Trimble Site Positioning Systems is a perfect fit for the Brunet Group's global policy. The latest construction projects to be completed with the help of the Trimble Site Positioning System include the extension of the Bourg-en-Bresse mixed development zone (located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the base station), as well as the installation of grids and the creation of landfill cells and dumps as part of the ORGANUM project.
The Brunet Group is also working in closely with the Grenoble CEA [Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission] on a design project for the company's future headquarters. This is a construction project for an energy-self-sufficient building, which started 2014. At the heart of this project lie the implementation of electronic information exchanges and the reduction of resource consumption, including paper—an area that can be directly linked to the hallmarks of Trimble's heavy equipment guidance and site positioning technologies.