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Machine control gives A&R Earthmovers the ‘Green Card’
Ask Cassidy Schultz, A&R Earthmovers’ project manager, just how much of a difference Topcon machine control has made to the way he operates his fleet of road-building plant and he’s positive its influence has made for a better work site.
"Machine control has definitely allowed us to get way more productivity out of our gear. In fact it’s totally changed the way we operate on-site," he says.
Cassidy’s team is currently at the tail end of a 14 month stint on the Cambridge Bypass in the Waikato – a province that has seen as intense a period of road building over the last two years as urban Auckland has.
Having adopted Topcon machine control technology on a number of their machines some time ago, A & R Earthmovers came into this project well versed in what grade indicate systems fitted to excavators and dozers can mean for productivity. In fact, right from the tendering stage, the project specifications suggested machine control would be a preferable component of the winning company’s bid.
"We have machine control on our Caterpillar D6 dozer, our 35 ton Sumitomo excavator and our grader as well. We also have Topcon masts on both our 32 ton Sumitomo and 52 ton Hitachi excavators so we can swap the control unit between those two machines depending on what we’re doing with them."
Machine control has allowed Cassidy to completely change what he utilises specific machines for too.
"The D6 is our weapon of choice now, and that’s all down to machine control. Having the indicate system onboard means it’s such a finessed, quick machine to use.
"Right now on the Bypass we’re rolling in brown rock and putting a 500mm sub grade improvement layer in across a reasonably big stretch of road – about 2.5km. If we put all that in and we’re 100mm out, we have a lot of work to do to go back in and pick it all up. But with the GPS we know exactly where we’re at when we get to the end: its good peace of mind."
"We’ve also got machine control on the big 52 ton Hitachi at the moment, which isn’t something you see every day. But again, this is why machine control is so good at giving us flexibility across our fleet – even though the 52 tonner is a bulking-out digger, the Topcon gear minimises the need to come back and re-do things, which means the smaller gear can be used somewhere else."
After a fair length of time utilising Topcon machine control systems, Cassidy says he knows the technology inside-out these days and, with a predominantly young crew on-site, knows the A & R Earthmovers team is adept at getting the most out of their machines as a result.
"I helped plumb up the D6 myself alongside Jimmy from Synergy Positioning, which was a great way of getting to understand how all the component parts of the machine control system integrate with each other.
"Even though we’re comfortable with Topcon’s technology, it’s still good to have dependable back-up service for any out-of-the-ordinary issues and I’ve always had exactly that from Louie, John and Chad at Synergy Positioning.
"We’ve been with Topcon right from the start and from talking to guys using other systems I don’t think I’d want to use anything else. Topcon really do make a contractor-friendly system – there are four buttons for your set-up, data and layers or projects, survey tasks and display options; that’s all there is to it. Once calibrated the entire system just works intuitively."
It’s a well-known fact that machine control solutions increase productivity for companies like A & R Earthmovers, but the precision and finishing ability the technology provides for is also exceptional. In fact, Cassidy credits a good mix of operator talent and machine control tech with the company’s recent recognition through the civil construction industry’s ‘Green Card’ award.
"A lot of our work is in producing sub-grade for the roading guys to come in and grade. We recently produced sub-grade on the Bypass for HEB Construction, but we had to use the D6 for the task because the grader was busy elsewhere.
"Because the dozer is far more choppy and doesn’t have a lazy-blade like the grader, we relied a lot more heavily on the Topcon system in the D6. HEB Construction’s head of roading gave us a ‘Green Card’ for producing the best sub-grade they’ve ever had within tolerance – within 2mm of the whole job.
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"I think that speaks volumes about what can be achieved with Topcon machine control technology."
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