Grade Management and Machine Control Systems

Aggregates & Roadbuilding reviews some recent developments
Daniel Brown
June 09, 2010
By Daniel Brown
Trimble has introduced a new version of its 3D Trimble PCS900 Paving Control System with automated screed adjustment. Unlike other 3D paving control systems, the system now monitors the height of the trailing edge of the screed and automatically corrects for errors to achieve higher accuracy and smoothness of the asphalt mat. PCS900 version 1.1 includes the new Trimble AutoAdjust feature, which automates the adjustment of the screed to accurately stay on grade at the trailing edge. Trimble PCS900 is a 3D extension to the 2D Trimble PCS400 Paving Control System. The paving contractor can easily switch from grade and slope (2D) mode to 3D mode, depending on the requirements of each individual project. The PCS400 and PCS900 combination provides the customer the choice between sonic sensors, slope sensor, sonic averaging beam, 3D slope and 3D elevation control on each side of the screed.

Trimble has also introduced major enhancements to the Trimble CCS900 Compaction Control System that allow the operator to efficiently make more uniform passes with a soil compactor, report production data in the field, and minimize the risk of over or under compaction. With the new Trimble CCS900 system version 11.21, contractors can ensure a higher quality sub-surface while minimizing future rework and maintenance costs.

The new version of CCS900 introduces an in-cab hardware switch to adjust the horizontal offset of machine passes. The operator can use the switch to shift the offset left or right from a designated horizontal alignment, at an interval specified by the operator. The operator simply configures the on-machine software for the amount to move the alignment offset. Trimble CCS900 version 11.21 also offers extensive in-field reporting options as well as comprehensive compaction information over the entire job site. .

Sokkia Corporation has released the new Series 50X total stations, offering increased measurement range and speed as well as an array of new features. In addition to industry-leading protection against powder dust, sand, mud, snow, dripping water or driving rain, other features include Class 1 safe laser output, a new built-in laser plummet for quick instrument setting on 2”, 3” & 5” models (6” model comes with an optical plummet), newly added SD or SDHC card slot and USB flash memory slot, built-in Bluetooth® module option for wireless communication with a data collector and password protection to prevent unauthorized use. The product line up consists of models with four angle accuracy grades: SET250X (2”), SET350X (3”), SET550X (5”) and SET650X (6”).

Leica Geosystems has announced the Leica Builder Series Total Stations designed for construction contractors or anyone on a construction site requiring an easy-

to-operate, full-feature measuring tool. From simple tasks to professional all-day use, the Leica Builder offers a scaled product family of five different models to meet the varying needs of most construction jobs. Contractors can choose from the 100-, 200-, 300-, 400-, or 500-Series models. The Leica Builder Series is designed for non-technical construction professional to easily perform positioning, layout, or dozens of other daily construction-site tasks. To facilitate data transfer, some models feature a USB port – an industry first – while the 500 Series also has Bluetooth functionality.

Topcon Control system delivers green results
Manufacturers of GPS-based machine control systems are keen to point out the “green” aspects of utilizing their equipment. The theory is that if projects are completed in less time, dozers and graders emit fewer exhaust emissions per project, consume less fuel, and require no wooden stakes for guidance. In addition, because grading is more precise with machine control, there are fewer passes and less crushed stone or base material used, so less energy is consumed to produce it.

Randy Gray, owner of Graystone Construction Inc., Georgetown, Ont. is certainly convinced. “For sure those machine controls are greener systems,” says Gray who has Topcon’s 3D-MC2 a mounted on a Caterpillar and Komatsu dozer. Gray says the machine controls “astronomically speeded up the grading” for a high school in Brampton, Ont. “We used our Komatsu D85 with machine control to cut the parking lots, the soccer fields and the running track.” Graystone used both its GPS-equipped dozers to handle the grading for a 360,000-square-foot industrial building in Milton, while on both sites the system was used to confirm grading accuracy to the paving company.

Empirical evidence suggests that earthmoving equipment fitted with GPS-based machine control systems is much more efficient – and more “green” – than manually-controlled equipment. Grading goes faster. In some applications, dozers can move up to twice as fast with new-generation machine controls like Topcon’s 3D-MC2 system, compared to first-generation controls. Jobs require significantly less time.

In one study sponsored by Caterpillar at the Malaga Demonstration and Learning Centre in Spain, two identical roads were built. Each was 80 meters long. One was built with conventional stakes on the ground, and the other was built using Caterpillar’s machine control technology. The project built with machine control resulted in a 43 percent fuel savings – and required only one stake for system checks on the blade tips. By contrast, the conventional project required 114 stakes and took 3.5 days to complete, compared to 1.5 days with machine control. 

Graystone Construction reports good results with Topcon’s 3D-MC2 system mounted on the company’s Komatsu D85 dozer.

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