Safety

GPS Machine control becomes standard

Anyone in the business of moving earth, be it for laying a pipeline or building a freeway, would have noted the emergence of GPS machine control applications being used on plant, in particular the excavator, over the last five years. In fact, it has become the industry norm.
For the surveyor, project manager or contractor who deals with these systems one regular basis, driving past any worksite where the machinery is visible tends to result in the viewer making note of what machine control is being used and how.

The increased productivity resulting in the use of GPS machine control applications has seen small and large contractors alike being targeted for work because of the results they are achieving and the time in which they are doing it. In fact, many large-scale works for tender now state that machine control must be utilised on plant.

Andrew Thompson, of Thompson Brothers Earthmoving Pty Ltd, is a client of machine control distributor CR Kennedy and has Leica 3D machine control systems on his dozer, excavators, grader and laser scoop. He estimates that he has achieved time savings as high as 40 per cent by using the GPS systems.

Clay Badenoch of Baden Plant Hire is currently running two Caterpillar 324 DL excavators and one Caterpillar 12H grader with Leica 3D (GPS) machine control systems. When he needs to, he hires in other Leica machine control from CR Kennedy. ?Without the machine control systems, a crew of two or three men with at least 100 pegs are needed, not to mention the surveyors,? he said. ?It?s a long, drawn out process.?

Baden Plant Hire is currently working on the $324m Robina to Varsity Lakes Rail Extension Project on the Gold Coast. The project is extending the Gold Coast line by 4.1km from Robina to a new station currently under construction at Varsity Lakes. The project also includes a new train stabling yard at Robina station. Queensland Rail appointed TrackStar Alliance to construct the new infrastructure. Mr Badenoch?s GPS enabled grader is doing trimming of the formation for the capping layers, and his GPS enabled excavator is doing the trimming of batters and drains and the detailed trimming of formation.

As an example of the results achieved with the GPS systems, when a final trim check was done on the completion of the 100m2 stabling yard, there was only one small deviation of 5mm height – brilliant when considering they were trimming on single passes only and relying solely on the Leica machine control.

This type of result is common when a GPS system is being utilised. Before a job commences, the site plans (as provided by the project manager) are loaded into the 3D computer via a USB. As the machine moves, the system sensors and satellite antenna show the machine?s physical movements and position in reference to the site plan on the screen in the cabin. All physical data is right there in front of the operator.

While the capital outlay of a GPS system can be quite daunting for some, particularly in the current economic climate, those with it unreservedly advocate the capital investment. ?Since I?ve had the Leica machine control systems, the majority of calls have been for machines, especially excavators, with GPS functionality,? Mr Badenoch noted. ?Even if we didn?t get a good return on the system itself (which we do) the high demand for machines with the GPS guidance means constant work through the door.?

SMB civil business manager Ben Gleed agreed. They have been using Leica 3D machine control on their grader. ?We have the confidence to price work knowing that we can place and finish materials quicker than a lot of our competitors.?  

With the Federal Government offering the 30 per cent additional tax break for capital purchases, coupled with the recently released list of economy-boosting infrastructure projects, it makes a lot of sense for those who don?t have machine control to seriously look at investing in it.

Source: CR Kennedy

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