Unique Leica Digital Level LS15: “Unavoidable” productivity gains with image-based aiming and automated measuring

Leica LS15 Digital Level is an investment that pays for itself

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In this interview, Falko Henning, product manager at Leica Geosystems, shares his insights on the new Leica Geosystems digital levels. He explains why the LS15 in particular is worth being considered as an investment that pays for itself.

From the outside, the Leica Digital Levels LS10 and the LS15 look completely the same. What is the main difference between these two instruments, apart from the price difference for the LS15?

Both, the LS10 and the LS15 are premium class levelling instruments. The LS15 offers two absolute unique features which make a major difference compared to the LS10, and set it above all other products in the market:

  1. A digital camera
  2. Autofocus function.

With these two new features, productivity gains become "unavoidable."

That sounds interesting. Can you please elaborate with some more detail?

Sure. Compared to robotic total stations, which allow a one-person operation in the field, precision levelling still requires a field crew. This means with a faster and better automated instrument, you can save twice as much time in the field, where every minute counts.

Thomas Krause, Managing Director at VLK Vermessungs GmbH & Co. KG in Berlin, explains his experiences:

"With the new Leica LS15, our levelling tasks are executed up to 40 per cent faster than previously with the NA3003 or DNA03 levels. The camera view on the display for aiming and the quick and reliable autofocus are not only popular among our field crews, these features also accelerate the measuring process in the field considerably."

How does levelling work on an instrument without digital camera and autofocus?

Whether it is a digital level, like the Leica LS10, or a conventional level, the user still must find the staff through the telescope. At which point he has to focus the telescope on the staff by using the focussing drive. Afterward, he does the fine aiming. Sounds simple and easy, right? In fact, this is routine for any skilled measurement professional who has done this procedure thousands of times.

 

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Aiming through the telescope without digital camera (left). Aiming and measuring the LS15 using the display with camera view and autofocus (right)

How do aiming and focussing work with the LS15?

With the LS15, looking through the telescope is obsolete. Just aim and measure. Aiming is done easily by aligning the staff and the crosshairs within the camera view on the display. By the push of a button, the instrument focuses and measures automatically.

What are the benefits of the LS15's digital camera and autofocus?

There are three main benefits, which I would like to point out:

  1. Increased productivity
  2. Better quality of measurement data
  3. Further comfort and safety in the field

Can you tell us, which productivity gains can be achieved with the LS15?

The extra investment into the LS15 pays for itself. With it, as opposed to other levels, you don’t lose time finding, aiming and focussing, which shaves off valuable seconds on every single measurement. These small time savings result into practical productivity increases of up to 40 per cent, depending on the length of the line that has to be measured. Measurement jobs are done not only faster but also more reliably. Users can better concentrate on their main task: achieving highest accuracy levelling results.

Which effects do the digital camera and autofocus have on quality?

Humans make mistakes. Through automation, the autofocus function eliminates this human factor in the measurement process and makes the whole operation less error-prone. In this way, repetitions of a levelling line and costly site revisits are avoided.

Why is comfort an issue and how does the LS15 improve comfort?

Comfort increases productivity and safety significantly. Imagine the task of measuring a level run more than 10 kilometres, day after day, using a conventional level. First of all, carrying levelling equipment over long distances in sometimes rough terrain is already no easy feat. Add to that frequently looking through the telescope over a day thatis very straining, and not only on the eyes. With the LS15, users do not have to look through the telescope any more. Instead, they can see everything on a high quality display, which is much more convenient and less fatiguing.

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Repeatedly looking through the telescope over a whole workday can be very straining.

Lastly, everybody with some practical levelling experience knows instrument setups are often not comfortable. In order to look through the telescope, it is frequently necessary to bend or kneel down. With the LS15, difficult setups are no longer a problem. The user sees everything he needs to see displayed on the screen. He can operate the instrument in a relaxed upright posture while the instrument does the job.

 

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Aiming without a digital camera feature by deeply bending or kneeling down (left). Aiming and measuring in an upright position with the LS15’s digital camera and autofocus (right)

Will this additional automation become standard in digital levelling?

Yes, this trend is already evident in some markets.

According to Alexander Georg, sales manager for Surveying Ground solutions at Leica Geosystems in Germany, the LS15 is a great success:

"Since the launch of the newest generation of our digital levels – Leica LS10 and LS15 – the vast majority of our customers have chosen the LS15 with its unique imaging technology. It is obvious why: The small extra charge for the LS15 pays for more than itself. The digital imaging technology is unique. With its camera view allowing for easy aiming and the autofocus function speeding up measurements, the LS15 facilitates significant time savings."

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Falko Henning
Product Manager Digital Levels
Leica Geosystems AG, Heerbrugg, Switzerland

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