March 2021 | Points of Progress

How Blackwater Electric is Doing More Work with Less People using Trimble Technology

“This technology is the future of construction.”

We have all heard the phrase, ‘It takes a village.’ Having a strong foundation and support system ultimately leads to great success. That is no different when it comes to Blackwater Electric – a Virginia based and family owned electrical contracting company proudly serving industrial, commercial, and government clients since 1993. Blackwater’s mission is rooted in having a deep commitment to each project by delivering the industry’s highest quality work on time and within budget. We had the opportunity to speak with Project Manager, Cody Hart and BIM Manager, Davis Watson on how Trimble Technology and BuildingPoint SouthEast has had a strong impact on their work and company.

With previous knowledge of Trimble equipment, Cody Hart took a deeper dive into how Blackwater can really benefit from the technology. Through a Google search, Cody discovered BuildingPoint SouthEast which led to an introduction with our Virginia/Metro DC-based Construction Specialist, Jeff Soscia back in early 2020. After meeting with Jeff and learning the value Trimble could provide, Blackwater immediately invested in four pieces of equipment: R8s, RPT600, RPT873 and SP85. Cody explains, “These machines really changed the outcome and outlook of how we view our projects along with how we can budget them and use them to our advantage.”

Although Cody pioneered their Trimble technology transition, it was Davis Watson and Zach Tabor (Blackwater Construction Layout Specialist) who really took it to the next level. Davis and Zach both spend a lot of time in the field, so they get to see firsthand what our products are capable of. Davis shared how they are excited to grow more with these advancements:

“This Trimble technology has definitely given us multiple key opportunities to overcome many of the complications that we face on projects every day. Instead of using tape measure, we’re using robots to locate points within two millimeters using lasers and prisms. It’s genuinely interesting technology.”

Approximately 90% of Blackwater Electric’s projects are government-based work from Navy shooting ranges, CIA buildings to training stations and more. Throughout each project, they have widely accepted BIM. “It allows us to understand a project before even breaking ground. These are proven and innovative tools that are putting us ahead,” Davis shares. Ultimately, Trimble technology has saved them time and work labor. Something that would traditionally take them 2-3 days to complete took them one hour with one of our robots. Besides saving time, it’s increased their accuracy as well. Davis elaborates, “Both our traditional techniques coupled with modern technology make a great combination for a proficient team.” Cody also added, “If someone is on the fence of investing in this equipment, it’s a no brainer. This technology is the future of construction. It’s the next step of doing more work with less people.”

Both Cody and Davis shared how they believe Trimble and BuildingPoint SouthEast have opened the window of possibility for what they can achieve. Jeff Soscia along with
Zach Tabor and other BuildingPoint members Scott Mayer (NC/SC Construction Specialist) and Eric Fines (Application Specialist) worked alongside Blackwater Electric to ensure they were set up for success. Through their experience, they are continuing to improve their construction processes with clearer, comprehensive documentation for facility managers so they can better understand what’s behind walls, slabs, etc. They also are increasing their team engagement. Everyone from all levels of the organization are taking an interest in the technological advancements and support that Trimble provides and are intrigued by what it can do for their projects. Cody explains, “We are a very family and likeminded business and it’s very good to know that BuildingPoint SouthEast has that same feel to it. You build trust with one another, and I really feel like I have a strong backbone with this technology having BuldingPoint behind us.”

Want to learn more about Trimble Field Layout Technology? Click here.

Interested in Blackwater Electric’s layout services? Contact Davis Watson at davis@blackwaterelectric.com or Cody Hart at cb@blackwaterelectric.com to learn more.

10 Common Errors Encountered When Laying out with a Robotic Total Station

1. Building is in design coordinates (0,0,0 or 100,100,0) and the control points you are given are in State Plane Coordinates.

Solution: Before going out to the field, open the project on your data collector. On the bottom right of the screen, you will see a lower case “I” icon. Tap on this icon then tap on one of the control points. If your information looks like this: N:521,235.067, E: 3,253.886.008, Z: 747.9 it is probably in State Plane Coordinates. When you try to load your project in the drawing with the control points, they won’t match up.

2. Building Coordinates in X,Y,Z but control points are given to you in N,E,Z.

Solution: N,E,Z represents Northing, Easting and Elevation respectively. To get the building coordinates to match up, it should read Y,X,Z.

3. Antennas – You connect your data collector to your robotic total station, but when you get about 25-30 feet away, you lose connection.

Solution: Check your antennas! One of them may be bad and need to be replaced.

4. Robot won’t connect with your prism.

Solution: Check your data collector to see if you have chosen the correct prism.

5. Robot is not following your MT100 active tracking prism.

 Solution: Ensure that the battery is charged and unit is turned on.

6. Shaky Robot – You set up your robot, leveled it, put the battery in and powered it up. The robot and the tripod are shaking badly.

Solution: Your tripod legs are too close together. You want at least two feet from a leg to the middle of the tripod.

7. Prism Pole Height – When laying out elevations, you notice the elevations are incorrect.

Solution: Be sure to enter your prism pole height correctly.

8. Prism pole is bent/warped.

Solution: You may notice your prism pole is bent/warped if you do not regularly check the plumb of your prism pole.

9. No Annual Calibration.

Solution: Having a certified Trimble technician calibrate your RTS annually is essential to its accuracy. Contact your local BuildingPoint representative to schedule this crucial maintenance procedure.

10. Scouting site last minute.

Solution: Scouting the site well in advance gives you time to find the problems and correct them, so you can maintain your schedule. Scouting on Thursday when you have to be back Monday is not enough time.

VDC Corner | Trimble XR10: Built with your Work Site in Mind

The XR10 is the only HoloLens 2 solution compatible with an industry standard hardhat and certified for use in safety-controlled environments. Additionally, the XR10 offers:

Field of View
Industry leading 43° field-of-view, for the best possible mixed-reality experience

Communication
5-microphone array and innovative bone-conductive headset to provide crystal clear 2-waycommunication in high ambient noise environments

Wearability
Improved weight distribution and flip-up visor for increased wearability

Easy to Use
Improved hand and eye-tracking sensors for automatic calibration and instinctual interaction with menus and holograms

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