Digital setting out technology is transferring BIM models (AutoCAD & Revit) electronically to the job site by using a Robotic Total Station (RTS) and tablet set up. This device is then used to locate your drawings specific location points such as hanger points, building works holes, equipment locations, lighting fixtures and pretty much anything that you can identify in the model.

This method of setting out has been widely adopted in the North American and Australian markets with hundreds of building sites taking full advantage of these labour saving tools.

The current method which exists in the Middle East is printing BIM models to a large A3 sheet of paper with hundreds of dimension lines on it to allow installers to then measure manually using tape measures and string line.

My entrance into the world of sales for the MEP market began in the western region of the United States back in 2008. My company at the time, TSI, was the sole provider of MAP’s CAD-Duct drawing platform (still one of the most commonly used programmes in the industry worldwide). Within months of my arrival TSI had partnered up with Trimble to provide the MEP industry with its first edition of the Trimble MEP Robotic Total Stations. The idea behind this was to create integration between 3D models and the job site.

Having sold CAD-Duct in this area I could instantly see the connection of taking all of my hanger point locations and placing them electronically into this system. Contractors were seeing labour savings within days of using the robot. A typical return on investment for this would be two installers manually setting out using tape measure equals 75-100 points. One installer using the Trimble robot equals a minimum 500 points in a day. These sort of numbers can have your robot paid for within a month of setting out. The industry had never seen this type of return on investment for a BIM tool.

Fast forward to today and I can see that thousands of Robotic Total Stations are being used for all types of setting out in the construction industry, but not the Middle East.

My departure from TSI in 2015 led me to Trimble MEP as it had hopes of bringing this technology to the world.

The first objection I was receiving here the Middle East was: ‘’We don’t draw support hangers”.

How can this be? I thought everyone was modeling hangers?

How can you provide a fully 3D coordinated model without including the most important part of the process?