Locally Positioned for Success

20 April 2016

Brisbane-based Main Constructions specialises in both building and civil construction projects. With such a diverse service delivery, Project Supervisor Will Sylvester explains that Local Positioning System (LPS) machine control gives his team greater flexibility than using GNSS-based solutions.

The company has recently invested in Topcon’s new LPS excavator solution, adding to its existing suite of Topcon LPS solutions for dozers, graders and a compactor.

Main Constructions employs some 50 staff, owns around 100 machines and operates throughout Brisbane and surrounding areas, from Caboolture in the North, down to Byron Bay and as far West as Toowoomba.

The company offers earthmoving services for drainage, bulk earthworks, roads, councils, schools, sports complexes, housing developments and commercial buildings.

Because of the diverse nature of its work, Mr Sylvester explains that flexibility is key in deciding on what machine control and positioning technology to use. “Our projects range from small drainage work through to 3-4 hectare sites, so we find a total station solution is better suited to the variety of work we do,” he said.

“With LPS, we can use the total station on smaller sites just as a survey tool and to check grade, or on larger sites as a full-blown, automatic 3D machine control solution. I don’t have to worry about satellite coverage either, the system can be used in any environment, which suits our needs,” he added.

Without a crystal ball to predict what projects are on the horizon, keeping costs to a minimum is key for the business. “We could have the machines working in 3D for months on a big project, or they could be sitting idle for months. The fact that we can use the total station on any range of job keeps it working for us.”

Using 3D machine control on a range of equipment delivers better results and gives greater flexibility when it comes to selecting plant for a given job. “The Topcon system enables our dozers to fine trim like a grader,” he said. “We’ve used dozers to trim a football field before, covering 20,000 square metres at 1% slope, all within 10 millimetres. The technology frees up the machines on a wider range of projects, so a grader isn’t always required for final trim work.”

Mr Sylvester said that the company’s use of Topcon machine control has evolved over the years as the business has grown and the technology has developed. “We started off with grade lasers and pipe lasers, then moved into 2D machine control technology, before getting our first LPS 3D system for a grader about six years ago.”

Since the first grader was installed with machine control, Main Construction has gone on to fit another grader, two dozers and a compactor with the same technology.

“The only thing that was missing from the equation was an excavator solution,” he explained. “I asked the team at Position Partners [Topcon’s Australian distributors] to let me know as soon as one was available and I believe I’m the first customer in the country to have it!”

Topcon’s X-53i system utilises the PS robotic total station to provide precision measurements to the excavator via a combination of three slope sensors, the new MC-i4 GNSS receiver and new GX-55 control box and a robust Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). The result is highly accurate bucket position and elevation awareness, even when working underground, amongst tall buildings, or under bridges or tree canopies, where GNSS solutions are limited or unavailable.

Mr Sylvester is very impressed with the new solution. “The benefits it delivers are huge, it increases productivity, saves on man power and gives the operator more control over his day so he’s not having to wait for the surveyor to check his levels.

“We’ve used it for trenching and drainage work, cutting batters and spreading topsoil and I’ve found it to be a very reliable and accurate system,” he added.

When asked why the company has always chosen Topcon, Mr Sylvester said “it’s really a combination of how easy it is to use and what I can only describe as phenomenal support that we receive from the local Position Partners team.”

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