Using machine control systems on projects of all sizes

Machine controls

Over the last few years we’ve seen companies of all sizes benefiting from the advantages of machine control products and technology. Regardless of how big (or small) a project is or how many people are on site, there is always room for productivity improvements and cost savings.
So when we started discussing machine control systems with Epic360 Civil Contracting, they had a clear goal in mind.

Brendon Booth, Managing Director, tells us that after being interested in machine control for a while, he was looking for ways to reduce the number of labourers on a construction site.

“I had done a bit of research on my own, and figured that if we starting using it on our excavators, we could remove the need to have someone on the ground doing levels.”

Operating for more than 35 years, Epic360 provides construction and excavation services all over Auckland, Rodney and the North Shore. After more than three decades in business, they know a thing or two about finding efficiencies in how they work.

“We have our 5.5 tonne and 14.5 tonne excavators both wired up for machine control – we swap the system between the two machines depending on what we need, which gives us additional versatility on our jobs,” explains Brendon.

Reduced labour costs and improved accuracy

Epic360 started using the Topcon X53i system in August 2018 and immediately started seeing the benefits of GPS machine control. The X53i system allows operators to work independently, with software directing them to levels and extents of work and guiding the bucket to grade. The need for labour on the ground was removed, and the overall accuracy of jobs improved.

“The peace of mind and confidence we have around the accuracy of levels is now huge. We set things up and then are extremely confident in the levels. The system certainly proved itself straight away on the first few jobs,” says Brendon.

Size does not matter

Debunking the myth that machine control is just for large-scale operations or machines, Brendon and his team demonstrate that efficiencies are achievable at any level.

“The 5.5 tonne and 14.5 tonne are not the typical machines out there you see with GPS fitted, but even on these small to mid-sized excavators we’re able to see improvements. Not a lot of people are using this technology on machines that size, but we’re using it on small projects where most others are surveying with a labourer on the ground or with the operator getting on and off the machine.

“We wanted to remove those extra costs and show clients the benefit of using technology in order to be quicker and more efficient on small residential and commercial site works. The operators are thrilled that they can get their work done faster and actually be more accurate as well.”

Ease of use for operators

The feedback we hear often is that not only are machine operators able to work faster and smarter, but they’re also surprised by how easy the Topcon machine control systems are to use. For Brendon and his team, this usability was a key factor in their choice to use Topcon.

“We had looked at a couple of other brands and systems, but our ultimate decision was made based on two key things. First, the overall usability of the system and the software on the unit. A lot of our operators are not really fluent in computer use, so we needed a system that was going to be easy to learn and simple to use. Synergy came in and did the initial training with us, and then even helped us set up the first job we used it on. Since then, we haven’t needed any other help. It’s really easy for the guys to use.”

“The second thing that helped us decide to go with Topcon was the thorough way the team at Synergy showed us the system. Not only did they go over the features in a product presentation, but they also took us out and showed us the system on another contractor’s machine so we could see its functionality on a live site.”

Passing benefits on to the client

The reward for changing systems really becomes evident when you see the ultimate effect on your clients. Brendon says they now use the fact that they’re using machine control technology when they’re pitching for work, giving clients a higher sense of confidence in their ability to do the work.

“Clients can have more confidence in what’s happening on a project, knowing that the information they provide to us is used to deliver outcomes exactly to their designs.”

“We’re doing work faster and more accurately, while saving costs and eliminating inaccuracies.”

Those are goals we all share, no matter the size of the business.

Republished with permission from Synergy Positioning Systems