Several months ago, ProStar released its newest software offering, PointMan Pro (PMP). This software allows for customization and possibilities of additional features for clients. Our developers have diligently worked to implement Pro’s newest feature to enhance our labels and leaders feature. ProStar’s implementation of the labels and leaders is intuitive, user friendly and is an effective and precise method of communicating issues and questions between multiple geographically separated field crews.

A leader is a line that establishes a connection between a graphical representation of an item in a field drawing and a label. A leader line points to the drawing or map and says: “This is important and needs your attention”. This is a commonly used tool in CAD drawings and is very effective. PointMan is using this design standard and moving it into its cloud environment for real timeline data collection. Labels & leaders will only be available as a feature in PointMan Pro.

When a field operator needs to mark a point of interest for other field personnel or designers in the office, the best place to start is as soon as it is discovered. This also works in the reverse when the designer in the office needs to send a clear and concise message to workers in the field. This allows workers in office to access that label and leader line to ensure it is clear, concise, and accurate.

In subsurface locating field operations, the operator is the initial observer and has the responsibility to clearly and precisely locate and mark features on and below the surface. While the field operator may have the best available design and as-built files in their possession, the data on these files is in many cases superseded or not as precise as modern survey methods. To prevent confusion and to eliminate guessing by field personnel, it is desirable to ensure that discrepancies and questions are answered by the person best able to do so. However, the person can only give the answer if they fully understand the issue and it is a difficult process to describe the problem at hand and the location of that problem over the phone or on an email.

A simple diagram is worth a thousand words when it is essential that clarity and precision be maintained. In subsurface utility work, you cannot just send out a text with a couple of coordinates to indicate a problem as it is not enough description of the problem in the field. The office person responsible will not see what the field operator sees which causes delays, miscommunication, and possible safety issues for the field personnel and others. PointMan Pro allows the field operator to immediately and clearly draw a line and attach text to this leader, much like a CAD environment. Instead of being on a static drawing, it is now available in real time (connectivity permitting) to the designer or engineer in office to look over, collaborate on, resolve and then send this resolution back to the field – also in real time. There is now a record of the problem and resolution.

PointMan Pro allows the user to draw labels and leaders in multiple colors and styles to clearly distinguish them from other lines. Leaders have a spatial component as they are drawn and are placed on a separate layer from the normal points, lines and polygon features collected. This allows the operator to turn them off when needed to reduce clutter and preserve drawing clarity. The leaders are also zoom layered in that they can be set to display only when you are sufficiently zoomed into the area, this way they will not clutter up the views of field crews not working on the area of interest. Text can be placed at any vertex along the line. Users are not limited to a single straight line, and the text can be placed where it is most clear and useful not to override other text or features.

For example, a field worker opens a manhole and see three pipes instead of the two that they are expecting. With a couple of quick taps on a tablet or phone, the user can draw leaders and add labels to the manhole, and pipes, indicating the unknown pipe. While this is being done, the office promptly receives the new addition. Office personnel can then check and revise their own drawings and send back a request to the field worker for them to follow the unknown pipe to ensure it is marked and noted. This eliminates confusing phone calls, emails and unknown locations, now that spatial and physical attributes can be transmitted clearly and resolved efficiently. A reminder to all in the field and office that precise, clear, and spatially concise two-way communications prevent accidents and incidents and keep your operations safe and efficient.