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United Civil has deployed Earthworks on its Hitachi 225US LC excavator.
United Civil has deployed Earthworks on its Hitachi 225US LC excavator.

Earthworks programs provide accurate grades, control

On opposite sides of the Tasman Sea, a digital product suite is proving invaluable for two construction companies utilising excavators on a range of projects.

United Civil Construction was established more than 40 years ago in New Zealand with the formation of United Carriers Group. When the group separated its construction operation in mid-2006, United Civil was formed. The civil construction company has more than 120 trained and experienced staff who have worked on projects from Auckland up to Cape Reinga, at the northern end of the North Island.

With a focus on benefitting its people and the communities in which it serves, United Civil puts health and safety at the core of its operations. It is also committed to building all of its projects in a sustainable manner that does not harm the environment.

With its surveying technology not delivering the desired effect, United Civil sought change. The management team knew technology played a key role in expansion and that as a high growth company, data could be an underused resource in the construction industry. As such, the team began searching for a technology partner that would provide robust, highly useable machines and high quality data that could be used throughout its projects.

After a competitive evaluation process with three leading brands, Mark Daglish, the survey manager at United Civil, said: “We selected Trimble as our technology partner due to its ease of use and the overall quality of the product suite. Trimble also stands out for its commitment to innovation and safety which aligns our two organisations.”

United Civil has deployed the Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform (Earthworks) on one of its Hitachi excavators, alongside the Trimble Business Center office software.

United Civil’s excavator is fitted with the roof-mounted Earthworks platform.
United Civil’s excavator is fitted with the roof-mounted Earthworks platform.

Earthworks is the industry’s first integrated 3D aftermarket grade control system with excavator automatics capabilities. The platform includes intuitive, easy to learn software that is extremely customisable and allows each operator to personalise the interface to maximise productivity. Trimble Business Center is an office software tool that can create accurate, integrated 3D constructible models for survey, construction and marine applications.

Together, these solutions enabled United Civil to optimise its decision-making and efficiency in the office and on the job site. The implementation was simple, with little training needed thanks to the familiar interface present across Trimble’s solutions. Daglish said: “The excavator component was easy to get started – it was up and running immediately that day. Sitech NZ was a phenomenal partner too, supplying the team with guidance on the machines and educating them on how technology will truly make a difference to their work day.”

United Civil reaped several benefits from its deployment of the Trimble packages, including:

  • Improved health and safety. With a 3D view of the project and grade progress inside the cab, the operator doesn’t have to rely on stakes or a grade checker to dig to correct depths. Daglish said: “It’s going to save survey time and increase the safety of the team working on the site, particularly in the trenches.”
  • Better data sharing. Users can remotely send and share data across machines. “Trimble is automatically recording data and feeding it back to the site team,” Daglish said. “In addition, it’s able to connect and download updated designs from management which saves us a huge amount of time and reduces human error.”
  • Faster and more efficient data. With all the data in front of personnel on the machines they work, tasks could be completed in record time. “We’ve doubled productivity thanks to Trimble. We have total confidence with the client that the job will be done to the design, with fewer errors than ever before,” said Daglish.
  • Better equipment utilisation. United Civil was impressed at the high levels of technology uptake by the team. “The operators have been very impressed with how user-friendly Trimble’s technology is,” Daglish said. “We have a diverse team. Trimble is easy to use, and the benefits of the technology are clear, meaning that driving uptake internally is easy. This is good news for everyone.”

Daglish said United Civil’s commitment to the Trimble programs was ongoing. “Our goal is to have a continual investment in the technology that will help us stay ahead of the competition in both price and performance. We are currently planning for additional installations on a grader and excavator along with multiple field GPS units for site engineers. With Trimble this allows us to hit the ground running, making it easy for our staff to adapt and see results.”

Much of the work done with Earthworks at Beilby was entrusted to its Caterpillar 313F excavator.
Much of the work done with Earthworks at Beilby was entrusted to its Caterpillar 313F excavator.

Jobsite transformation

The construction industry is known for its slow adoption of technology but southeast Queensland group Bielby Holdings has been challenging this stereotype for the past 15 years, employing technology as its number one tool to transform the jobsite.

Bielby was established in the 1980s and has successfully delivered more than 150 major transport, earthworks and infrastructure projects along the eastern seaboard of Australia. The organisation has been using Trimble machine control for more than a decade – making the technology mission critical to its operations.

Trimble’s technology was originally deployed by Bielby for a grading project that involved replacing pavement without stopping nearby traffic – the team did not want to use traditional string lines for this job, due to safety reasons. Following the project, the team found it had increased productivity, tightened tolerances and had virtually no reworking. Since then, Trimble’s technology has been used across numerous Bielby jobs as the team realised and enjoyed the enormous advantages gained. After continued use and investment over the years, Bielby now operates no-peg sites, relying on Trimble solutions for accurate grading and control.

In addition, Bielby started using the Earthworks grade control platform and it is now the standard for all Bielby’s projects, providing improved safety, productivity and accuracy.

Much of the work done with Earthworks was entrusted to Shannon Watson and the organisation’s Caterpillar 313F excavator. This was Watson’s first time using machine control technology after more than a decade spent in the mining and construction industry.

“I love it,” Watson said. “It is mind blowing what you can do with Earthworks. It is making the job easier, as we are able to be more precise and efficient. In addition, it’s also engaging me as an operator.”

Watson explained the simplicity of the Earthworks software, suggesting it is as easy to use as a smartphone. Earthworks has been built on the Android operating system for a positive user experience.

While Watson has spent more than a decade in the industry, she has been an excavator operator for under three years. She said using Earthworks had helped her with the visualisation of jobs. “I’ve found that when I’ve worked on something with Earthworks, if I then jump into the smaller excavator without it, I can ‘see’ the job in my head really clearly and that makes it easier to achieve,” she said.

Sitech Construction Systems worked with Bielby from the beginning.

“Bielby Holdings was an early adopter of Trimble machine control technology and has continued to upgrade and utilise our technology to be a highly competitive and efficient business,” Sitech’s Brent Daniels said. “We’re proud to have helped this company continue to grow and succeed.”

Shannon Watson at the helm of the 313F excavator.
Shannon Watson at the helm of the 313F excavator.

Source: Trimble

Quarry Magazine

Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 9:04am
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