JK Williams first adopter of Topcon 3D paver machine control

NSW civil contractor JK Williams has recently purchased a new GOMACO Commander III slipform paver fitted with Topcon’s MillimeterGPS™ precision machine control system.

The US-built GOMACO Commander III can lay pavement up to 8 m wide, as well as carry out a wide range of kerb and gutter work, including Jersey kerbs, barriers and barrier kerbs up to 2.4 m high, standard kerb and gutter, rolled kerbs, kerb-only, in a wide range of profiles.

On a recent job the paver was laying around 1.5 km of kerb and 2 km of footpath for Penrith Council at Glenmore Park in Sydney’s Western Suburbs.

The company will also be using the system on a major dam construction project, incorporating a concrete wall around the dam, and through the middle.

It is the first use of Topcon mmGPS machine control on a Commander III in Australia, and among the first in the world, said Leigh Hartog, JK Williams’ managing director.

“To get this system working correctly, Topcon and GOMACO brought people out from America, as well as from Topcon’s global software centre in Brisbane; we had 11 guys here to set it all up and make sure it went properly,” he said.

“We’ve been with Topcon for 20 years, and we know we’ll get the service and support from their national dealers Position Partners.

“When we decided to buy this paver, we went to Topcon and they assured us the mmGPS system was the right one for us, and that they would get it working properly for us,” said Hartog.

Tim Lyle, JK Williams’ operator on the machine (pictured above) said that operating the whole system is very easy and straightforward.

“I’ve been driving the Commander III for approximately eight years now and we have always conventionally used the stringline method, which needs at least two people: an operator and a groundsman,” he said.

“With Topcon’s mmGPS 3D system, you can eliminate the groundsman and the surveyor, along with all the man-hours putting up the stringline.

“Now it is all controlled by the operator using mmGPS. So, as I drive along, I can constantly monitor where I sit in relation to the world and how I am going.

“When I start my day, it is quite easy and simple: I start by putting my tripods and mmGPS lasers onto control points and then set up my receivers onto the machine.

“Then it is just a matter of selecting what alignment I am doing, starting up the system and the machine doesn’t rest from then on.”

Lyle said that being a pioneering application, there were a few minor technical challenges in getting the Commander III working with mmGPS.

“Because Topcon had not fitted this system to many GOMACO Commander III machines before, the company’s software people had to amend the code that tells the machine what to do; because it’s running off an alignment, it’s not only controlling the height, it is controlling the steering of the machine.

“We also had a lot of training to get everybody on board, from knowing the specifics of setting site survey for the mmGPS, right to the end when I come in and slipform,” he said.

There were also some teething problems with the system when it first started.

“Initially, within certain spots of the alignment, it would start jumping up and down and not following what it was supposed to be doing, but with help from Position Partners and their support crew, we’ve been able to rectify these problems and overcome them,” he said.

“Now it is running at a beautiful speed and pace, and you don’t have to check what you are doing.

“I do, just for peace of mind, but otherwise it is a perfect operation,” said Lyle.

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