Machine control technology has grown in scope since first introduced, and if you haven’t added it to your fleet, you may be missing out on significant advantages. Machine control technology makes it possible to finish projects faster, at a lower cost and with higher accuracy. It’s an investment that can pay for itself after the first few jobs and will save time and money over the lifetime of the machine. In a competitive market, it may be the advantage you need as you bid and spec out your next job.
Here are 12 reasons to consider adding machine control to your current fleet or your next purchase.
Do the job right the first time. There may be no more frustrating (or costly) form of downtime than rework. With machine control, you have the power to put in the right material at the right height, or to take the right amount of material out. Rework can be costly as it relates not only to one crew, but also to the upstream and downstream work being performed on the whole site—causing further delay and frustration.
Greater predictability/control of job costs. Machine control technology allows contractors to more accurately estimate the specific amount of time and materials needed for a jobsite. This allows for better allocation of equipment and personnel, as well as better control of material costs. As an example: if you remove too much material from the site, not only have you wasted the time and energy to remove it, you now must spend additional resources (time and money) to truck in material that is as good or better than the material you removed.
Less wear and tear. Ground engaging equipment experiences more wear and tear the more often it is used. More hours are also piled up on the engine and the machine’s filters and fluids. Blade edges wear down, and dozer undercarriages take a beating each time the machine travels. Machine control technology will generally allow a task to be completed in fewer passes, helping to minimize each of these factors while completing the same amount of work.
Greater equipment utilization/flexibility. Being able to work more efficiently as detailed in points 1-3 also allows contractors to more intelligently use their equipment. For instance, if a contractor knows that he/she can now complete the amount of work with two dozers instead of three, that extra dozer can then be put to work on another site or elsewhere on the existing site.
Greater productivity. You will complete work at a faster rate through the efficiencies afforded by machine control. Each job is different, but it’s not uncommon to see increases in productivity that help justify the investment on the first job it’s implemented on.
Lower operating costs. There are many ways to look at operating costs, but all revolve around the common theories of completing more or a comparable amount of work with less effort, eliminating rework, reducing maintenance and fuel costs, and more intelligently utilizing equipment to get more out of your fleet in a given period of time.
Improve operator performance/shorten training window. Bulldozers and motor graders remain among the more difficult machines to find and train qualified operators for. Machine control technology helps shorten the training window and allows less-experienced operators to achieve similar completion quality as those with more field experience.
Excavate with confidence. Machine control technology outfitted on an excavator becomes a powerful tool for fast and accurate excavation. It can help improve productivity (faster cycle times) because the operator can dig with absolute confidence in mass excavation applications and know that they’re not over-digging. This can also be helpful in trenching applications.
No re-staking. Depending on the size of the site, many contractors will set aside a whole portion of their budget to account for re-staking. Stakes get moved or run over, designs change, etc. This can be costly. With machine control, the data points don’t change and the design remains constant within the system, unless the design changes—at which point a new design is simply uploaded rather than staking the whole site again.
Fine trim work with compact equipment. Machine control also provides benefits to compact equipment, such as compact excavators, skid steers, and tool carriers/utility tractors. For instance, a compact excavator digging utility lines next to a building’s foundation can dig accurately and with confidence, knowing that grade and pitch are where they need to be. A skid steer can be transformed into a powerful final grading tool around buildings and other obstructions, and smaller tractors used in sports field management can be made more efficient in achieving the perfect grade/surface.
Greater data integration between crafts. Large jobsites often resemble small cities, with numerous contractors working in-sync. By sharing and working from a single model of the jobsite, all of the disciplines work from the same plans, and it helps eliminate ambiguities or concerns over changing plans or contractors possibly working from outdated specs.
Ease of scalability. Investing in new technology can be an intimidating proposition. Luckily, entry-level systems provide most of the infrastructure needed to allow for future expansion. For instance, a contractor can add a 1D system and, should they choose to evolve to a 2D or 3D system a year later, it normally only requires adding a few components to get them up to speed. ■
About The Authors:
Article content presented by Brad Stemper, solutions marketing manager with CASE Construction Equipment; Magnus Thibblin, segment manager, NAFTA machine control, with Leica Geosystems Inc.; and Mohamed Abd El Salam, global marketing manager, precision solutions and telematics, with CNH Industrial N.V.
Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2015
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