The first integration of Topcon with Rototilt in New Zealand

The first integration of Topcon with Rototilt in New Zealand

Henry Claydon and his team at Waiotahi Contractors had known for a while that they would eventually need to add more automation to their operations. They had been keeping an eye on different systems and ways of using GPS technology on their equipment, but didn’t want to invest until the fit was perfect.

Then they saw a Rototilt® display at Fieldays and knew the time was right.

“We were very aware of machine automation, and the boys had been looking into it. We knew that if we found the right system, we would go that way,” says Henry Claydon, Managing Director.

With divisions in contracting, transport, quarries and sheetpiling, Waiotahi has grown from humble beginnings in drainage in 1957 to a trusted name in civil engineering, quarrying and trucking, now with over 150 employees.

In 2017 the company was awarded the contract to work with Whakatāne District Council on the major flood protection works on the Wainui Te Whara Stream. The work involved widening and deepening the stream channel to increase its flood flow capacity and reduce the likelihood of the stream overtopping its banks during extreme weather.

Waiotahi was faced with a difficult set of challenges – excavating through private property, limited space around the stream bed, and the overall geotechnical complexity of the channel works. Claydon and his operations manager were convinced of the benefits that machine control technology would bring to the project.

“We began talking to Synergy because we knew they were well recognised in the industry in GPS-controlled machinery,” says Henry.

“We needed a GPS system for our digger that could help us without a lot of room around the stream. Accuracy is key. You can’t go back over the ground once you’ve dug. Rototilt gave us the flexibility over slope control and the other difficulties of this job. Topcon gave us the accuracy of GPS and eliminated the need to use surveying equipment in the area.”


  • Rototilt on a Hitachi digger in action
  • Rototilt on a Hitachi digger in action
  • Rototilt on a Hitachi digger in action

The feedback from Waiotahi surrounding the Topcon integration with Rototilt has been all positive. The system is easy to use, the training and support were seamless, and the efficiency and productivity benefits passed on to the client have been significant.

Rototilt is fairly new to New Zealand, with only a small number of companies in the country using it. Despite the fact that there hadn’t been any uses as large as this one by Waiotahi or other Topcon integrations, Claydon says there was absolutely no doubt that Synergy could rise to the challenge.

“They are well-known and respected in our industry for GPS-controlled machinery. We didn’t hesitate in going to Synergy first when we decided on a system to integrate with Rototilt. They did exactly what they said they would, there were no surprises or glitches, and we’re extremely happy with the result.”

And the overall impact on the business?

“Anywhere you can improve efficiency and reduce costs is going to help the end client. Using machine control systems levels the playing field around operator experience. You can have an operator with less experience delivering in a way that is consistent with a more skilled one. Using it with Rototilt gives us the speed, accuracy and flexibility to manage the large and complex jobs.”

Waiotahi is now looking into another large-scale project where a Topcon and Rototilt integration would be ideal.

For more information about machine control products for dozers, graders and excavators, visit

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