In anticipation of future airport growth, a pair of new taxiways at Winter Haven Airport/Gilbert Field are being built to service the airfield’s existing runways. To help make that happen, locally based Tucker Paving called upon GNSS technology—including the strengths of Millimeter GPS—to help deal with the project’s tight tolerances. Doing so has afforded them a nice uptick in production and, more importantly, an assurance that the work will be done at the level of quality for which Tucker has become known.
Founded in 1994, Tucker Paving serves all of Central Florida as a turnkey site work, utility, paving, and concrete contractor, focusing on industrial, commercial, private, and residential projects. Current specialties include: underground utilities; recycling; site clearing and demolition; asphalt base and pavement; concrete curbing, paving, sidewalks, foundations, and slabs; site excavation; hauling of aggregate materials; and more. Work at the Winter Haven Airport drew upon their expertise in site clearing, underground utilities, and paving. The improvements are taking place to help accommodate the approximately 160 new hangars that are expected to be built over the next decade as economic growth in the area continues. According to “Chip” Tucker, the company’s president, their decision to incorporate millimeter grade GNSS technology into the subgrade and road base portions of the project was a logical “next step” for the company.
“We’ve been using GPS since about 2014,” he says. “Because we had been buying lasers and other leveling equipment from Lengemann Corporation, the Florida Topcon dealer, for a long time, we first went to them for help moving forward with the new technology. We started out working with Roger Croft, their director of sales, to use machine control on a pair of dozers and a motor grader. We immediately saw the benefits the technology could bring to that first jobsite—an area subdivision—and became committed to it. To this day, we still rely on Roger and turned to him when this project became available.”
OFF AND RUNNING
Started in June of 2017, the Winter Haven Airport project involves movement of better than 25,000 cubic yards of soil. The taxiways—one of which measures 1300 feet long and 25 feet wide; the other, 700 feet long and 35 feet wide—will improve safety and allow access to both existing and proposed runways. According to Mike Felix, Tucker’s project manager, incorporating GNSS technology into the project’s workflow had unforeseen benefits.
“For this project, GPS really allowed us to hit the ground running on day one,” he says. “Using it, operators who are a bit less experienced can get so much more done than they could working with a traditional survey approach.”
Ultimately though, Tucker Paving turned to Millimeter GPS for the industry-leading accuracies it provides, and by doing so, reached what Topcon Positioning Systems calls its “Intersection of Infrastructure and Technology.” This virtual crossroads is the site at which industry professionals like Tucker benefit from Topcon-specific advantages and know-how to meet their growing infrastructure needs.
At Winter Haven Airport, Tucker used a pair of John Deere 672-GP motor graders running Topcon Millimeter GPS to achieve the necessary 1/8-foot tolerances on the taxiway subgrade and road base. Tucker’s Millimeter GPS system used a Topcon LZ-T5 laser affixed to a tripod to generate a Laser Zone signal which was accessed by the system’s receiver mounted on the motor grader. That vertical zone helped the company maintain the necessary tolerances and eliminated the need to repeatedly reposition their GNSS base.
“We took to the system very well and were seeing its benefits almost immediately,” says Felix. “On the road base and subgrade facets of the job, production was outstanding and the tolerances were maintained throughout. Initially, we didn’t know what to expect but have been really pleased with the speed and accuracy of the millimeter system and will put that technology to work again during the paving facet of the job.”
In addition to the millimeter grade work, Tucker also relied heavily upon a pair of Komatsu 61PXi integrated GPS dozers, acquired working with Ray Phillips at Linder Equipment’s central Florida branch. The Komatsu intelligent machines replace the traditional masted GPS dozer with one utilizing fully integrated sensor components. These include a factory-installed, cab-top GNSS antenna, enhanced inertial measuring unit (IMU+), and stroke-sensing hydraulic cylinders to draw upon the inherent strengths of the Topcon 3D-MC machine control system.
“GPS really played a huge role in getting all the earthwork done onsite,” says Michael Chevalier, Tucker’s project manager. “Using the Komatsu machines running Topcon machine control, we dug all the swales, got the base down, and had it totally ready for paving—all without setting any stakes. On earthwork alone, by eliminating the need to check grade, to measure stakes, to pull stringlines, etc., it is easily giving us a 25-30 percent boost in production. There is no doubt about the impact both systems are having on this project.”
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
While there are still companies working today who hesitate to make the move to GNSS and all the benefits it offers, Felix says he is glad that Tucker is not one of them. “We are fortunate to have owners and upper management who, for years now, have been committed to providing us with the best tools and technology to do our jobs,” he says. “Chip really believes in us and likes to stay abreast of what’s going on.”
Lengemann’s Roger Croft added that Tucker’s push toward additional GNSS is not only wise, it also reflects what is to come in the Florida construction scenario—particularly as it applies to DOT work.
“I am on a board with FDOT and know that, in the near future, they are going to be making a move from issuing paper plans to sending out electronic ones,” he says. “Having that 3D-ready capability will become part of the DOT prerequisite for doing business with them and companies like Tucker will benefit from being savvy with it. Those without some type of GNSS expertise will simply no longer be able to compete.”
Chip Tucker says that their affinity for GPS is reflected in other areas of the business as well. “We try to implement technology into as many parts of our operations as makes sense,” he says. “We use Fleet Watch and Fleet Max for GPS vehicle tracking; we have a GPS drone to measure stockpiles. In short, we try to stay on the leading edge as it relates to technology; that’s what got us connected with Lengemann for the current Topcon Millimeter GPS project. And, it’s not just a short-term gain either: having this capability definitely opens the door to additional FDOT and airport work for us. It’s an added advantage to have as we move forward.”
The Winter Haven Airport project is slated to wrap up in mid-March.
About the Author:
Larry Trojak is president of Trojak Communications, a Minnesota-based marketing communications firm. He has written for the construction, recycling, demolition, scrap, and aggregate processing industries.
Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2018
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