This guide has been prepared to provide workflow suggestions on how a large civil project could best manage their data when using Trimble Business Center and Trimble Access. It is based on general experience with Australian civil construction projects and can be modified to suit individual company workflows.
Software Versions – It is essential that the site staff are all running the same version of software to remove issues with file compatibility and missing features. This is both field and office software as generally once a file or project is opened in a newer version it cannot be opened again in previous versions.
FXL file – It is essential the Project develop an appropriate FXL file at the beginning of the job and this should be used for the duration. If changes need to be made to attributes on existing codes, then they should be done everywhere at the same time to avoid issues. You should also setup line styles, symbols, and control codes to be used as these enhance the experience in Trimble Access and are great for plotting in TBC.
Office Data Management
With the introduction of Reference files in TBC and the improvements provided in the current release it is now possible for TBC Project data to be broken down into groups to keep projects a manageable size, easy to find data and minimal duplication.
Our recommendation is to create a folder structure on your server something like what is shown below. Under each of these main folder groups would be a second layer of folders containing Projects relating to the group, for example:
Each of the projects only contains the information relating to that topic and therefore avoids duplication of data. Using Reference files, you can load the appropriate design data into other projects for QA and referencing while only having one source for the original data.
There may be some occasions that you need to copy an object into the working project from a referenced project which can be done using the “Copy Objects” command. It is then recommended that these objects are deleted as to not create duplications.
TBC Reference Files
Under the ‘Home’ ribbon you will find command. In each project you can add in data that is required to be seen and used from another VCE file. Use the “Reference Surface” command found on the ‘Surface’ ribbon to add surfaces to the project from those referenced VCE files that can be used for measurement and conformance.
In the QA projects only load survey data from the field into them directly and reference in the design VCE files so that the design can be seen and used for conformance but is not duplicated.
Project imagery has become very important and highly valuable when working on large civil jobs. This imagery is generally best managed in ECW format.
- Option 1 - Imported directly into the project required. To reduce the data storage and number of copies of the ECW go to the Options → General → Images and untick the option to Copy the ECW file to project folder.
- Option 2 – Import into one project and Reference this project into all other projects requiring the images. This allows you to change the images in one location each time there is an update.
Using the above folder structure when you load design data into TBC there are a few things that can help in this process.
- If using 12da files – Understand the import settings and read 12da Import Workflow
- These 3 import options found in the 12d import pane (do not drag and drop) can help to manage your data more efficiently. More information can be found HERE
- If using other file types, the "Rename/Regroup layers" command can be used to efficiently manage and sort imported data.
- Use the "Map Objects" command to quickly map your design data to new layer groups, layers, colours, line styles and names so that data is consistent in your projects and for use by field operators. This is very useful when getting multiple revisions of the same design.
- Other useful commands during data preparation are:
- Project Clean-up
- Line Node Clean-up
- Remove Duplicates
- Convert to Linestrings
- Detect Crossing Geometry
Design data made in preparation for use in Trimble Access can be exported from TBC in many formats however we suggest the following formats depending on what type of work you are doing. Our preferred formats for Civil construction are highlighted below as they will cover all requirements.
The design data exported for the field should be held in its own folder structure for easy synchronising to the field and to make sure only the current versions are available. Folders could look something like below where design files are stored by discipline under a “Design” folder and the raw JXL files from the field work will be found in “Field Data” folder under the appropriate surveyor’s name.
The data can be sent to and from the field controllers via different means.
- Trimble Connect Sync – Can be used to sync from office to Connect and then back to a Windows controller. (Workflow available on request).
- Trimble Connect - TBC can send design files directly to Connect, allowing Trimble Access to directly import them for use. Once jobs are complete in Access they can be uploaded back to Connect and using the new 'Connected Workspace' in TBC they are able to be directly imported into a project.
- USB drive – Not recommended on large projects.
When the design data is revised, the new file is added to the folder and the previous file is moved to an archive folder. Once the design data has made it to the field equipment, the job and point ID naming for any data collected is important.
- Every surveyor starts new jobs every day for each task [YYMMDD][NN][X].job e.g. 230525AC1
- Every point is numbered [YYMMDD][NN][X]xxx e.g. 230525AC1001... 230525AC1999.
When the day is finished day jobs are exported as JXL files and synchronized back to the office in the 'Field Data' folder for each surveyor. If you are using the Connect workflow then by changing the status of the job on the controller to 'Field work complete' automatically pushes it to the cloud and makes it available for download in the office.
- Each job is entered into the Data Register for easy tracking and coordination with the office surveyors and should be saved on something like one drive. – Template available on request.
- JXL’s are moved from the field folders and imported into an individual TBC project for that day [YYMMDD][NN].vce e.g. 230525AC.vce which are stored in a folder of the same name. E.g. below.
- If using the 'Connected Workspace' in TBC to import the job file directly from Connect then the TBC project for this job will also be saved the same as above but without the JXL file. The job can be marked as 'Closed' in the Connect 'To Do' list.
- In this 'job' project, data is checked, features are processed, lines are drafted etc. Setout data can remain in this project to be filed.
- Data required for further processing for QA reports or As-built recording is exported as a VCL file for each job done eg. 230525AC1.vcl and filed in the folder. The VCL removes the vector information and lightens what is stored in the master project.
- An alternative workflow possible is to use a 12da file export of the data and this can be particularly useful if you have been changing FXL attributes which could cause conflict or are just using the data for conformances. The feature attributes will be brought into TBC as 12d attributes and are still visible in the properties and exportable as a 12da or TRB file. The observation information can also be exported with the 12da file as attributes which enhances traceability.
- The VCL (or 12da) file is imported by the office surveyor into the appropriate TBC 'master' project for processing and storage.
Processing Field Data
As built and Conformance data should be imported into the appropriate TBC 'master' project and processed as needed. The use of selection sets after import can help to select that imported data and move or add it to the required layers in the project.
Note: The use of the same FXL file in the office that was used during the field work is essential for as-built data to maintain feature attributes, line styles and symbols.
When working with conformance data there are often many points involved and this will typically slow TBC projects down. To improve this, you may wish to use a 12da file import instead of the VCL file and use the "Convert to CAD Points" command as part of the workflow.
When points are converted to CAD points using this command, they will continue to hold the point information, Feature Attributes and import file name which is important for traceability and maintaining metadata. They can also be used in all the ANZ Toolbox conformance reports as if they were standard points and exported to a 12da file while maintaining their attributes.
Points should be moved to appropriately named layers within the QA project for effective management and storage and once again selection sets can be used to aid filtration while reporting. The use of the "Regroup Layers" command can help with this process.
Conformance reporting using the ANZ Toolbox Conformance Report commands will enable you to report most elements for a civil project easily and efficiently and now also allows you to use design and control strings from Reference files.
Anywhere this line selector is used, if you press the “Ref” button it will allow you to select Referenced linework to calculate from.
Trimble Access Road Stakeout
In Trimble Access the new “Strings and Surfaces” roads stakeout has several options that can be used to efficiently perform typical road surveying functions. Below we will list a few and what they can be used for. Note that from V2023.1 the 'primary' string is not restricted to only an alignment.
- Stake out Polyline – The most common and basic operation. Used to set out horizontally and vertically relative to a single string, for example a traffic island or kerb and gutter. This provides chainage, offset and height perpendicular to the line.
- Stake to the String - Used to set out horizontally and vertically from a string, while using a 'primary' string to control Chainage and Offset values and direction of projection. This is good for marking out anything that requires set out to a line relative to the road alignment.
- Stake to Two Strings – Used to generate a design height by cutting 2 strings and dynamically projecting the plane to your position. It works by selecting a 'primary' string, then 2 polylines which are used to determine the cross fall cut normal to the alignment string. Get Chainage and offset from the 'primary' string and offset & height from the set-out strings. Good for pegging road levels, batters, and projecting past the edge of the road or behind kerb.
- Stake Station on string – Used to stakeout a 'primary' string and set the chainage while selecting another string and getting guidance to it at the same time.
- Two Polyline Stakeout – Used to select two individual polylines that are not related to each other and get stakeout values relative to both at the same time. Useful on structures and when trying to intersect line features on site.
Trimble Access Pickup
Having a well-made FXL file is the key to efficiently coding and locating features with Access. The use of line styles, symbols, control codes and grouping enhance the user experience.
When taking the data to TBC a JXL file is preferred as spoken about previously. If you are required to take this data into 12d directly then the use of the 12d fld file stylesheet produced by UPG is an efficient method and can be requested.
Trimble Machine files
Export directly from TBC using the “Legacy” or “offline” WorksManager workflow for Trimble machines without sending straight to WorkManager from TBC - Help
Export directly from TBC using “online” WorksManager workflow - Help
Tip: For Trimble Earthworks machines it is possible to apply shading to the surface to enhance the usability for the operator. These just need to be Polygons with “Undefined” elevation which can be achieved easily by using the ANZ command "Convert to Polygon" to convert any closed linestring or CAD line.