Out­door tech

The hard work be­hind Hema Maps

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Contents - WORDS DEAN MEL­LOR PHO­TOG­RA­PHY OF­FROAD IMAGES & JUSTIN WALKER

Aus­tralian map­ping com­pany Hema Maps pro­duces some of the most ac­cu­rate, in­for­ma­tive and beau­ti­fully pre­sented maps avail­able. To gather all the data re­quired to achieve this, Hema trav­els ev­ery road and track in Aus­tralia.

ANY OUT­DOOR AD­VEN­TURER who’s laid eyes on a colour­ful and in­for­ma­tive Hema map will no doubt ap­pre­ci­ate the work that has gone into its cre­ation. Af­ter all, a Hema map of­fers so much more than just a ref­er­ence to your lo­ca­tion or a guide to your des­ti­na­tion. It’s a beau­ti­fully pre­sented work of art, with fan­tas­tic de­sign that al­most comes to life as you pore over its lines, imag­in­ing the jour­ney that lies ahead.

Set­ting a Hema prod­uct apart from lesser maps is the ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion it pro­vides, such as the story of the area it cov­ers, rec­om­men­da­tions on places to visit, in­for­ma­tion on ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties, the in­clu­sion of spec­tac­u­lar pho­tog­ra­phy and, of course, ac­cu­rate lines de­pict­ing roads, tracks and wa­ter­ways, and pre­cisely plot­ted sym­bols in­di­cat­ing the ex­act lo­ca­tions of any­thing from towns and land­marks to sta­tion home­steads and park en­trances.

What you might not ap­pre­ci­ate, how­ever, is the method by which Hema Maps cre­ates its prod­ucts, whether they’re printed on pa­per or de­liv­ered elec­tron­i­cally through a Hema Nav­i­ga­tor or soft­ware on your phone or tablet.

To gather all of the re­quired data, Hema lit­er­ally drives ev­ery road and track in Aus­tralia to en­sure its maps pro­vide the most ac­cu­rate and up to date in­for­ma­tion pos­si­ble.

THE RIGHT RIG

The Hema field teams need a ca­pa­ble and re­li­able off-road ve­hi­cle to achieve this, and the lat­est in a long line of ve­hi­cles the com­pany refers to as Map Pa­trols is a heav­ily mod­i­fied Toy­ota 79 Se­ries Dou­ble Cab LandCruiser.

Rob Boegheim, Hema’s Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and son of Hema Maps founders Henry and Mar­garet Boegheim, ex­plains: “We’ve been set­ting up Map Pa­trols since the first one in 1996 when we first started get­ting out with a GPS and a lap­top and do­ing what we do. We sat down with this one and asked: what do we need this ve­hi­cle to do, where do we need it to go, what kind of equip­ment do we need to carry, what kind of fuel, peo­ple, gear and map­ping gear?”

The LandCruiser ticked many boxes – pow­er­ful en­gine, strong driv­e­line, good pay­load, dual-cab body, bush-proven de­sign and Aus­tralia-wide parts and ser­vice back-up – but it wasn’t per­fect. Hema had the rear track of the ve­hi­cle widened to match the front track, en­dow­ing the ve­hi­cle with greater sta­bil­ity (im­por­tant when car­ry­ing heavy loads), and the chas­sis was ex­tended by 200mm for im­proved weight dis­tri­bu­tion. An ARB Old Man Emu GVM (Gross Ve­hi­cle Mass) up­grade and top-spec BP-51 sus­pen­sion sys­tem was also fit­ted so the ve­hi­cle could com­fort­ably and safely carry a heav­ier-than-stan­dard pay­load.

Like most out­door ad­ven­tur­ers, the Hema team is ob­sessed with keep­ing weight to a min­i­mum, even in the case of this four-wheel drive be­he­moth. “We look at the GVM right from the out­set,” says Rob. “We make a huge list of every­thing that we’re go­ing to pos­si­bly put on this ve­hi­cle and make sure that, be­fore we put it on, that we’re go­ing to be able to make our GVM at the end of it. It’s crit­i­cal to man­age the weight in a ve­hi­cle like this be­cause that adds to the safety and re­li­a­bil­ity of the ve­hi­cle out there. The less weight the less stress on the ve­hi­cle, and the fur­ther down a track or a mud hole it can get, be­cause it’s not over­bur­dened with all the stuff that isn’t needed.”

And Hema sends this ve­hi­cle fur­ther down tracks and mud holes than most other ve­hi­cles will

To gather all of the re­quired data, Hema lit­er­ally drives ev­ery road and track in Aus­tralia to en­sure its maps pro­vide the most ac­cu­rate and up to date in­for­ma­tion pos­si­ble.

ever travel. “We ask the map­ping teams to push the bound­aries on where they go,” says Rob. “We want them to go down roads that we’ve never been down be­fore, go and find out where tracks take us, and some­times that means get­ting into dif­fi­cult tech­ni­cal sit­u­a­tions or get­ting stuck, and you need the abil­ity to get out.”

ELEC­TRI­CAL MAR­VEL

Hema em­ployed the ser­vices of Global Sat to en­sure the Map Pa­trol would be able to pro­vide the elec­tri­cal power nec­es­sary to run all the map­ping and equip­ment in a re­li­able man­ner.

Sit­ting be­hind a pro­tec­tive shroud on the ARB roof rack is the all-im­por­tant GPS an­tenna. Sig­nals from the an­tenna are pro­cessed by a Dif­fer­en­tial GPS (DGPS), which is mounted in a roof con­sole. The DGPS pro­vides half-me­tre ac­cu­racy, en­sur­ing that Hema’s prod­ucts are as pre­cise as pos­si­ble.

Lo­ca­tion in­for­ma­tion from the GPS is then fed into the pas­sen­ger-fac­ing touch­screen com­puter, so the pas­sen­ger can then tag in­for­ma­tion to each plot or point. If that point is a car­a­van park, for ex­am­ple, in­for­ma­tion could in­clude the ad­dress, type and num­ber of sites, cabin ac­com­mo­da­tion, con­tact de­tails and fa­cil­i­ties avail­able.

Be­low the lap­top sits an iPad that’s pre­loaded with de­tailed in­for­ma­tion such as satel­lite im­agery, to­po­graphic maps and Hema’s re­gional maps. This can be used for cross-ref­er­enc­ing, while a sec­ond rear-mounted iPad is used to track the trip for post­ing into the Hema Ex­plorer cloud, for pur­poses such as up­load­ing info on con­di­tions for other trav­ellers to see.

The cen­tre con­sole houses a sat­phone hand­set and a de­tach­able sat­phone dock, as well as a 3G mo­bile phone cra­dle and iPhone, while the glove­box houses an RDX stor­age de­vice and a multi-for­mat SD card reader. On the driver’s side of the roof con­sole is a UHF trans­ceiver, and there’s a wind­screen-mounted Hema Nav­i­ga­tor

The cabin is lit­tered with switches for lights, fuel tanks, bat­ter­ies, trailer brakes, au­dio stream­ing, in­vert­ers and more, while gauges cover the usual things as well as boost, EGT (ex­haust gas tem­per­a­ture), volt­age and am­per­age of main and aux­il­iary sys­tems.

The cabin power sys­tem in­cor­po­rates a Redarc 300W pure sine wave in­verter, RDX power sup­ply, four 240V out­lets, and su­per-neat fuse blocks and cir­cuit break­ers. There are a num­ber of USB and 12V out­lets in the cabin.

For safety, there’s a PLB (Per­sonal Lo­ca­tor Bea­con) in case there’s an is­sue with the sat­phones, a SPOT tracker for daily check-ins with the of­fice, and two fire ex­tin­guish­ers – by the pas­sen­ger seat and in the rear canopy.

The LandCruiser’s Me­talink canopy is es­sen­tially split into two main ar­eas: the driver’s side houses all the busi­ness stuff, while the pas­sen­ger side pro­vides ac­cess to wa­ter and kitchen fa­cil­i­ties. While there’s a dual-bat­tery

set-up un­der the bon­net of the Cruiser, the canopy is home to its own Redarc bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tem with two 150A Lithium bat­ter­ies. Power man­age­ment com­po­nents in­clude a 1000W pure sine wave in­verter, 240V out­lets, master switch and cir­cuit break­ers, var­i­ous light­ing sys­tems, nu­mer­ous 12V power out­lets, so­lar in­put, Canon bat­tery charg­ers, hand­held UHF charg­ers, RDX data stor­age and more.

On the kitchen side of the canopy there’s a 75L wa­ter tank, an 85L En­gel fridge, dual-fuel stove, wash­ing tub, ex­tend­able ta­ble and draw­ers. The tool­box on this side houses the ARB air com­pres­sor and as­so­ci­ated equip­ment, as well as ad­di­tional re­cov­ery gear. Oh, and you’ll also find tool kits, spare parts and tyre re­pair kits in the canopy area.

The rear of the canopy is home to two spare tyres, be­tween which there’s a lad­der to ac­cess the rack up top. The Cruiser runs Cooper ST Maxx tyres. “We’ve been run­ning Cooper tyres ever since I started map­ping in 1996,” says Rob, “and th­ese new ST Maxx tyres are just phe­nom­e­nal; I’m start­ing to for­get the last time I changed a tyre…”

PRO­TECTED AS­SETS

With so much high-tech equip­ment on board, en­sur­ing the Cruiser and its oc­cu­pants are pro­tected is para­mount, which is why it’s fit­ted with an ARB bull bar, side rails and side steps, as well as a Warn Zeon 12,000lb winch and ARB un­der­body pro­tec­tion sys­tem. “When the Map Pa­trol team is out there, it’s their safety and pro­duc­tiv­ity that’s para­mount when deal­ing with dif­fi­cult ter­rain, and that’s where ARB comes in,” says Rob. “So that’s why, for the last 20 years, we’ve cho­sen ARB to prop­erly equip our ve­hi­cles, to pro­tect our peo­ple and bring them home safely.

“We’re a pretty close-knit team at Hema and when­ever any of our guys go out on map pa­trol we want to make sure that they’ve got the right equip­ment, they’re sup­ported and they’ve got the right comms gear. We’ve got 24/7 satel­lite track­ing on the ve­hi­cle and we’re ready to swing into ac­tion at any point to sup­port them out there.”

Hema MD Rob Boegheim snaps a pic that will make its way on to one of the com­pany’s in­ter­ac­tive elec­tronic map­ping prod­ucts.

Hema Maps’ lat­est “Map Pa­trol” (a Toy­ota LC79) has been set up to be fully self-suf­fi­cient. A huge amount of info is man­u­ally en­tered to ac­cu­rately de­scribe each point of in­ter­est. A hand­held GPS is used to ver­ify a pa­per map­ping prod­uct.

Hema’s pa­per map prod­ucts are ac­cu­rate and beau­ti­fully de­signed. Even re­mote camp­sites are in­cluded in Hema’s map­ping prod­ucts.

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