Case Studies

Earl Dudley Inc.

Providing state-of-the-art land survey and machine control devices and services

Earl Dudley and E. Phil Harris founded Earl Dudley Inc. (EDI) in 1938, providing repair services for surveying equipment. For more than 75 years, the company has grown and diversified. Despite the changes in the business, the current team continues to embrace a strong set of core values.

John Dudley, Earl’s son and current president of EDI, now leads the team of 40. The EDI team strives to offer knowledgeable service and quality products that help customers work with precision and efficiency.

“When my dad started the business back in the ’30s, he was a mechanical engineer and a machinist,” John explains. “He realized the biggest part of what they did was staking out sites as opposed to land surveying work, such as determining property boundaries. That was an important part, but definitely a smaller part of the business.”

In reaction, the business has shifted to better serve the means of construction. John notes that his team has managed to get more involved with earth work and site preparation in recent years. With changing technology, the team has many opportunities to add new efficiencies to traditional construction methods.

Unique products and services

EDI has built a niche in land surveying and machine automation equipment. Over the last seven years, John and his team have seen machine automation grow rapidly. “We are integrating GPS equipment into machinery,” he explains. “Contractors know where each piece of equipment is at all times. That side of the business has continued to flourish, because machine automation adds incredible productivity. Now a machine can grade a site in one pass instead of four for final grade. Whether building a road, a shopping center or a residential subdivision, these products can knock off a lot of time.”

New technology has changed the market in recent years on the surveying end of the business, as well. Laser scanning has taken on a new role for obtaining positional information. “This equipment shoots out a laser beam 30,000 to 40,000 times every second,” John elaborates. “When you combine the lasers with mobile scanners, you can take up to 1 million points every second. This technology has been used on roadways, buildings and other massive positional information projects.”

While most of the company’s work is in sales and training, EDI recently took on an unusual contract at an air force base in the region. “There are static scanners that stay in one spot and there are mobile scanners that you can mount to a vehicle,” John establishes. “For the base project, we mounted the equipment on a truck. Utilizing GPS to collect data, we managed to identify and plot every structure above ground on the base. We collected all of the survey data to turn over to an engineering company working on an upcoming project there.”

Diverse potential

The new technology that EDI represents is seeing growing opportunities in a number of markets and industries. Municipalities are now utilizing laser scanning to chart city landscapes. “They can get the X-Y-Z coordinates for anything above ground, up to 100 feet,” John explains. “City workers can mount this equipment on a vehicle and take inventory of every curb, fixture, feature and asset from fire hydrants to telephone wires.”

In industrial settings, laser scanning equipment can be used to provide a clearer picture of a plant. “For example, a chemical plant may want to rework a major part of the production floor,” John notes. “When bringing in new equipment, it is important to be sure they can get it into the location. This technology can pick up overhead structures and opening widths, as well as all of the obstacles in between. Sometimes it is a close fit and owners may need to make preparations ahead of time to fit a new, large component.”

Technology and its applications play a huge role in the continued success of EDI. John says the next big thing is introducing cloud connections between crews and the home office. If both parties have a cellular phone, a contractor could have a project in Los Angeles and work at the office in Baltimore, while receiving real-time updates about what is going on in the field. John already has several clients signed up for the service and the team is currently working out the kinks.

For 75 years old, EDI has remained a leader in technology for surveying and machine control. John and his team are dedicated to bringing the best equipment and service to clients in order to operate more efficiently. As a family business, Earl Dudley Inc. promotes integrity in an old fashioned way, while the rest of the business is anything but.

Published on: July 22, 2014

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