Topcon machine control provides the eyes underwater

Topcon machine control provides the eyes underwater

Not even specialised underwater construction work is too difficult for Topcon machine control technology. Just ask Sean Kelly from multi-disciplined marine construction firm, Pacific 7.

For Sean Kelly, managing director at Bay of Plenty-headquartered contracting and engineering firm, Pacific 7, the flexibility and robustness of Topcon machine control equipment is crucial.

With a reputation for tackling a diverse array of difficult contract work in the marine and civil construction sectors, Pacific 7 offers a multi-disciplinary approach to a variety of projects, both above and below water.

In high demand in the region for its marina, boat ramp and water channel build expertise, Pacific 7 utilises Topcon machine control technology on its barge-mounted Cat 320D long-reach excavator, in order to ensure faster and more accurate preliminary sub-surface construction work.

The excavator works off a 14.5-metre-long sectional barge, which can be deconstructed for road transportation to inland areas; Pacific 7 has been engaged in projects in riverways and lakes, as well as on the coast, meaning their excavator – and the machine control technology – needs to be able to work in a variety of marine environments.

“We’re now at the stage where there’s an expectation from our clients that we’ll have some form of machine control for marine work,” says Sean.


  • Topcon machine control technology on its barge-mounted Cat 320D long-reach excavator

“We’ve been dredging off the barge since 2005, so I like to think we know our stuff in those working conditions. But the adoption of machine control about six months ago has certainly given more assuredness to these sort of projects.”

While Pacific 7’s marine work is of a very specialised nature, Sean says it is bread-and-butter work for him and his team of 12. Topcon’s system gives his excavator operator eyes underwater, offering accurate bucket placement in real-time, allowing for sub-surface materials to be moved and shaped more quickly.

“It works quite well for us, because we have the sensors fixed to the excavator’s boom all the time, but – because marina construction and dredging work comes and goes – we just hire the Controlbox and GPS box when it’s needed. It’s more cost-effective for us to work this way.”

Sean says he opted for Topcon as a technology provider simply because he could see it was an increasingly popular brand within the wider civil construction industry. He also says he has been impressed with the level of experience on offer through local Topcon distributor, Synergy Positioning Systems.

“The Synergy guys have been great. They were very helpful with all the set-up we needed to get done, and have been good with ongoing support too. They have a lot of experience with the technology, so I think if we ever came across an issue while using it, they’d be able to sort it out for us pretty quickly.”

More information on Topcon’s range of specialised 3D machine control systems can be found at

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