Christchurch’s CCL Eliminates the Guesswork
CCL has been employing Topcon’s 3D Machine Control technology to not only provide accuracy in the field, but back up the bottom line in more ways than one.
Hamish Wright from Christchurch civil construction contractors CCL utilises Topcon 3D Machine Control on their heavy machinery fleet.
He’s of the belief that as the bottom line on projects get squeezed further and the speed with which contractors are expected to turn around results increases, machine control solutions for a variety of equipment will become ever more commonplace.
"We’re already using the Topcon GPS system on our grader and I’m anticipating that we’ll be adding further systems in the next year too.
"The way the technology speeds up our production rate on roading projects, eliminates overcuts and gives the operators the reassurance that what they’re creating is precise and to spec is brilliant. I’d love to see it on all our bigger plant one day."
Not only is the company accredited contractors for a number of other entities, including SCIRT, Fletcher Infrastructure, City Care and Fulton Hogan, Hamish says more and more they’re being called in as sub-contractors to complete finishing trim work on other projects: something Hamish attributes to the speed with which the Topcon machine control systems allow them to work.
"The more you play with gravel, the worse it gets. To get the shape right and make the most out of the product, you really have to hit it right first time. Grading is the most important part of any job we do, so it’s good to have the back-up of this technology to ensure it’s done right."
Another interesting benefit to Topcon’s machine control technology Hamish raises, is the way it acts as a back-up come billing time.
"There are no arguments about the amount of material shifted when it comes to matching schedule estimates against actuals. We factor in all the levels on any work plan beforehand and then, using the machine control data afterwards, we can calculate exactly how much we’ve moved or placed.
"If it’s more than anticipated, we have the proof right there in black and white, which means there’s no argument over the bill with a QS. That’s huge for us, as we’re continually moving from project to project; we just don’t have time to be continually chasing payments from work done weeks or months ago."
So has Hamish encountered any issues with the machine control technology?
"Not really anything major. We have had a couple of occasions where satellites have dropped out, which brings things to a halt, but those were pretty rare occurrences.
"On the training side, there definitely is a learning curve, but to be honest we have a fairly young crew overall – even our main grader operator is in his 20s, which is pretty rare – so these guys are very much at home with touchscreen menu systems. It didn’t take long to both get to grips with how to use it and learn to trust what you see on the screen."
Hamish is quick to point out that, while the technology is excellent to have onsite, any company looking to utilise machine control still needs skilled operators at the wheel, with the ability to read what’s happening at the pointy end of the machine and know if something doesn’t feel right.
Construction entities such as CCL are also finding an additional benefit to adopting this technology is that, as well as building a competitive advantage for the company, they’re also adding skills and values to employees as individuals. In a tough market, this corporate mindset has the potential to make the company investing in such technologies a more attractive proposition for prospective employees.
"Right now we have a good machine control set-up for the majority of the sort of work we’re completing," concludes Hamish.
"If we were to get more involved in intricate bulk earthworks, we’d be looking at setting up our excavators with Topcon machine control systems as well. In today’s construction climate, anything that’s going to improve the bottom line is worth looking at."
More information on Topcon’s range of specialised 3D machine control systems can be found at www.synergypositioning.co.nz/products/machine-controlBack to all case studies
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