Reducing downtime with GPS and 3D machine control

Brendan Walsh and his team at Ground Technique have been working on a 20-lot Tran Civil development in Diamond Creek, Victoria. This project is on a large sloping block that is very undulating and requires a substantial amount of cut and fill. To complete this project, Mr Walsh installed the Topcon 3D GPS+ machine control from Position Partners on his Hitachi Zaxis 13-ton excavator.

Brendan Walsh, Director, Ground Technique, said the Topcon 3D GPS+ system has allowed the company to have no people on the ground, meaning they can use smaller excavators if required because they’re now much more efficient.

“It also means there’s no human error. The only human error will come down to the surveyors and designers and you’re always going to have surveyors and designers involved. There’s a lot less material coming out because you’re pulling out only the exact amount.”

Selecting the machine control system

For this project, Mr Walsh had considered a rover on the ground but was concerned about the downtime.

“Often blokes forget to charge batteries on those things so there’s a lot of downtime,” Mr Walsh said. “Number two, someone has to read the screen and interpret it, and in the meantime the operator is sitting there waiting.”

Mr Walsh was also interested in a 3D system over a 2D system because it meant his team didn’t need to re-bench the equipment each time they moved the machine.

“The screen on the new system in particular is very big and easy to see, and because it is 3D it’s plug-and-play essentially once the machine’s loaded,” Mr Walsh said. “There’s no recalibrating once the machine moves. With a convention 2D system every single time you move the machine you have to re-bench the machine.”

Experiencing the benefits

Prior to implementing the Topcon 3D GPS+ 3D machine control system, Ground Technique would have used the string line, lots of spray paint, lots of pegs, a surveyor on the ground, more people and a lot of interpreting plans. Mr Walsh said he’s seen many benefits since implementing the Topcon system, including increased efficiency and site safety.

“Obviously, efficiency is the main benefit, minimising the people on the ground so it keeps things safe as well. Safety is a big one on these job sites and the lack of human error,” Mr Walsh said.

Another benefit that Mr Walsh has seen since is access to Tokara Link, an Australian-designed telematics solution created specifically to improve efficiency and productivity for earthworks and civil construction projects.

Using a modem installed in the machine, Tokara Link connects your machines to the office, provides access to Position Partners’ technical support and links you to any GPS network required for the job.

“When I have the Tokara Link fired up on the GPS, I also have Bluetooth on my phone so when I’m talking to the support network down in Dandenong there, I can literally keep moving my digger and excavating while I talk to them over the phone, while I watch them play around on the screen that I’m looking at, all at the same time.

“I can watch them, what they’re doing and they can talk me through what they’re doing so it makes training really efficient.”

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