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Trimble GuidEx Helps Resource Exploration Companies Save Money on Pre-Surveys in Remote Locations

In one of the most remote regions of North America, Trimble GuidEx helps resource exploration companies save money on pre-surveys

Rural construction site

Business challenge

Energy producers constantly strive to improve safety, reduce operational costs and monitor hundreds of pieces of equipment in a compressed, weather-dependent construction season.


The Trimble GuidEx Machine Guidance System uses GPS/GNSS machine tracking and guidance along with custom built maps and data collection to enable operators to navigate accurately through remote areas and document machine activities while generating back-end mapping and activity data to drive operational cost savings and efficiency.


  • Reduced risk of regulatory trespass beyond permitted or approved boundaries using geofence boundaries and exclusion zones
  • Emergency response mapping to enable faster response times
  • Substantial reduction in the costs of surveying
  • Improved equipment productivity and visibility from remote offices
  • More accurate cost tracking

A race against time

Every year, while most construction companies are wrapping up the season for winter, energy producers prepare to deploy an army of surveyors, heavy equipment, and drilling rigs into uncharted regions in Canada.

Mulchers, dozers and drill rigs navigate deep into the woods to build 14-inch-thick ice roads. Once the roads are finished, they start constructing drilling pads, which must support rigs weighing as much as 38,000 kg.  

The season lasts only as long as temperatures drop below freezing and stay there, generally between November 1 and April 1. Not surprisingly, energy producers are always looking for technology that can help them accelerate the process.

Pioneering Sites with Trimble GuidEx

GuidEx is a new GPS/GNSS-based solution in Trimble’s Civil Construction product portfolio. It is designed for machine guidance, task tracking, hazard awareness, mapping and data logging.

Trimble GuidEx runs on an Android operating system and collects satellite positioning data from a machine-mounted receiver and references this in relation to digital maps created by the end user. From this it can generate multiple types of information, including:

  1. Route/corridor guidance provides crossline navigation on predefined routes shown to the operator on a monitor in the cab. Visual and audible alarms warn when operators stray too far from the centerline. This enhances awareness, prevents operators from taking the wrong road, protects property rights and guides equipment to avoid areas with cultural, environmental or legal restrictions.
  2. Point navigation guides operators and records specific activities such as seismic surveying, core drilling and sampling and eliminates the need to pre-survey targets
  3. Pad construction task tracking customizes tasks required in pad construction with navigation to pad design coordinates. It defines tasks performed and tracks all activities throughout the day, producing detailed contractor timesheets
  4. Awareness of inclusion and exclusion zones can be preset to avoid known hazards
  5. Threshold warnings—IMU sensors note when a machine exceeds pitch or roll parameters and issue alerts to prevent rollovers and accidents.
  6. Digital mapping and data logging tracks the machine throughout the day to update design data for subsequent operations.

“It is 100 percent customizable, whether you are working on access corridors, drilling or constructing pads for mining or oil and gas exploration,” says Andrew Beach, product manager at Trimble. As a web-connected platform, GuidEx can be set up right out of the box or customized with software interfaces – APIs – that synchronize with the customers’ systems, says Beach. “Companies that are doing a ton of different workflows and have their own web tracking platform are able to connect to GuidEx-enabled machines,” he says.

Survey benefits—once and done

The biggest potential bottleneck early in the project execution process is surveying. Leases on lands and natural topography create constraints where the machinery can and can’t travel.

In the past, companies fielded multiple crews of surveyors fighting their way into the deep woods to stake out the roads and pads and string up survey flagging to keep the earthmoving equipment and drilling rigs in bounds. With GuidEx, the stakes and flagging are eliminated. Surveyors establish and record a point with a GPS/GNSS rover and move on to the next. That data is compiled into a digital map that operators reference on a tablet in their cabs. In addition to site awareness, reducing the number of trips the surveyors take into the field can be a significant benefit to the bottom line.

Trimble GuidEx Corridor Navigation

Improving awareness

Because energy producers often work in difficult terrain and remote locations, increasing safety and reducing risk is always top of mind.

Reducing the number of people in the field helps, but GuidEx also makes equipment accidents on narrow roads and precipitous terrain less likely. The system’s route and corridor guidance show the operator where the center of the road is and his machine’s position on that road so he doesn’t veer too far to the left or right.

In the past, if an operator took a wrong turn and got lost or stuck somewhere in the woods, finding that person and/or recovering that machine could take hours. With GuidEx, getting lost is almost impossible. A bird’s eye view of the machine’s location is always visible to the operators and the back office. Should somebody be injured, the tracking function of GuidEx (where connectivity is available) can quickly lead first responders to the scene of an accident.

Bringing subcontractors onboard

Sending heavy machinery deep into the woods is a risky proposition under the best of circumstances. GuidEx helps rig operators see where all the access roads are and where hazards may exist so they can get to their location faster and more safely. 

Asking subcontractors to use the GuidEx system and writing the requirement into future scope of work documents can be beneficial. With subcontractors working in remote locations, many companies rely on the honor system when it comes to billing hours for machine utilization. But using GuidEx, because it tracks machine activity, will keep everybody honest and help more accurately estimate future costs.

Tracking also improves communication between the office and the field. GuideEx will show where the actual equipment is in real-time. That information can then optionally be fed to an in-house mapping department so field engineers can see where equipment is from the home office. The engineers can work with the supervisors in the field remotely to help map out operational requirements. Task tracking on the equipment can also help reduce unnecessary idling, which helps reduce waste, cost and emissions.