This interview is the second of a series about modern manual total stations. In the first interview, Hans-Martin Zogg gave us insights about the outstanding flexibility, simplicity, reliability and longevity of Leica Flexline instruments. This time Alvaro Perez-Soto, product expert at Leica Geosystems, talks about FlexField, the field software running on these instruments.
What is the main focus of the field software?
Productivity. Beside many other aspects, productivity is the centre of our focus. FlexField is one of the most advanced field software tools. During the development process, we pay a lot of attention to very small details in order to make the whole survey process more efficient, which makes it very different from other products in the market. Measurement professionals are challenged every day with tasks like measuring up to 1,000 or 1,200 points and doing this accurately. That puts them under extreme time pressure. As FlexField raises their productivity significantly, they like it very much.
Can you give us some examples?
Of course. The software is very intuitive and easy-to-use, and it starts up very quickly. For routines tasks, we optimise the software by reducing the number of clicks. Three guided workflows minimise working time:
- StakeoutQuick Codes and shortcuts help the user to take the shortest possible way through the menus.
Once you are used to the software and have learned all the details and shortcuts, you can do measurement jobs at the utmost level of productivity.
The two main applications of a manual total station are Surveying and Stakeout. How do they work on a Flexline manual total station?
The Survey App works as a time-saving guided workflow. The user can perform measurements containing an unlimited number of points. The MapView Tab displays the survey elements graphically, allowing a better understanding of how the data is used. Surveyors often have this uncertainty “I hope I did not miss anything in the field,” which would force a costly return to the site. Giving a very good overview, the MapView tab ensures they don’t forget a single point. This feature saves – on its own – vast amounts of time and money. Since version 5.0, the main screen can be easily configured to fit the user’s needs perfectly by moving single lines up and down making his work quicker.
Intuitive to use: The main screen of the FlexField Survey app (left) and the MapView tab (right)
Imagine an excavator and a whole worker unit, waiting for a field survey team staking out a foundation pit. Time pressure is high. With the help of the Stakeout App, which also works as a guided workflow, they place all marks easily, quickly and correctly. The points to be staked can either be part of an existing job, which is already stored on the instrument, or the points can be uploaded to the instrument via USB, or they can be entered manually. Enhanced numerical and graphical guidance functions with direction arrows help the surveyor to lead the pole carrier very directly to each desired stakeout position. Stakeout Filters work very simple. They help optimise the route along the point list and increase productivity.
Let me mention here a hardware feature of FlexLine instruments – the Electronic Guide Light (EGL) is very helpful to speed up staking out over high distances. It is standard for the Leica TS09 and optional for the TS06 and TS02. The EGL leads the pole carrier to the left or to the right using different light colours.
FlexField Stakout app: Direction arrows indicating the way to the stakeout point
There is a Quick Survey App available in the FlexField software. What does this app do and what is the difference to the standard Survey App?
The Quick Survey App offers the quickest way to perform a measurement. Q-Survey is accessible directly from the main menu, making the instrument immediately ready for measuring with one finger-tap. Compared to the Survey App, this app is simplified to the minimum. It does not allow to change pre-settings, like stationing and orientation. Functions like Quick-Code or the management of measurements were left away here.
When doing surveys, coding is often very relevant. Can you please explain why?
Because coding saves a lot of time in the field and back in the office. For instance, if you have many different topographic points that have to be surveyed in only one day. The result shall be a map showing all roads, manholes, trees or fences as required by the client.
With FlexField, the assignment of codes to measured points is done directly in the field. This reduces the task of adding codes and rework in the office to a minimum. Measured points are enriched with additional information, like “This is a tree” or “This is the center-line of a road”. Points can also be assigned to a particular group like a road or a fence. Coding in the field simplifies later processing, and the most important, it helps standardising tasks. Imagine that you have a large team of surveyors in the field every day. If they use identical code lists, an easy and quick data transfer into Leica Infinity or any CAD platform is guaranteed.
Example of a code list for assigning codes directly in the field
How does coding work in FlexField?
Code lists can be quickly created either on the instrument and exported to Infinity or vice versa. When measuring a point, the code is added to the measurement either by selecting it from this predefined code list or – and this is new since FlexField 5.0 – by just typing it in directly during the measuring process. Additional code attributes make code lists even more intelligent ensuring an agile and flexible operability in field.
Can you explain, what is Quick Code?
Quick Code (Q-Code) offers an even quicker way of using codes. It is very useful to measure a large number of points. Codes are entered directly via the keypad by entering a two-digit number. A total of 99 quick codes can be assigned.
How can the latest version of Leica FlexField – version 6.0 – be obtained?
Customers with a Customer Care Package (CCP) can download the newest version for free from Leica MyWorld. For more details, please contact our local Leica Geosystems distribution partner.
Product Expert at Leica Geosystems AG
Do you want to read more?
This interview is the second of a series giving insights on our manual total station solutions. Part 3 will be released during the next weeks:
Part 1: What do legendary Wild T2 and today’s Leica Geosystems’ manual total stations have in common?
Part 2: Rise productivity with FlexField software