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Topcon new X-53x auto excavator system

ACI Excavations has a reputation for being early adopters of cutting-edge technology, and so it was no surprise that when the company purchased its latest piece of machinery, a 220x series excavator from JCB CEA, they paired it with Topcon’s new X-53x auto excavator system from Position Partners.

We go back a long way with Topcon technology, lasers and integrated systems with rotating lasers,” said Peter Stadelbauer, Owner, ACI Excavations. “You have to be one step ahead of the opposition, if you’re not, you run last.”

Why did ACI Excavations choose technology from Position Partners?

ACI Excavations has a long-standing relationship with Position Partners and Topcon technology that goes back more than 30 years When the Topcon X-53x auto excavator was released Mr Stadelbauer was eager to install the technology on his newest excavator.

“Most people in my industry understand that getting qualified, confident operators is very hard these days. We put three different operators in the machine to test the new system, and all these guys are competent – I just wanted to find out what their thoughts were,” said Mr Stadelbauer.

“One who I would class as a top tier operator, he didn’t mind it and was sort of non-plussed about it. The two other guys loved it: one was putting topsoil on a batter with the blade and he said that it picked up productivity by 20% and he didn’t have to worry about re-checking his work, he could see that it was uniform.”

How does ACI Excavations find the JCB machines work with the Position Partners technology?

Mr Stadelbauer has found the Topcon X-53x auto excavator system from Position Partners and the 220x series excavator from JCB CEA work together seamlessly. One of the features of the X-53x auto excavator system that stood out to Mr Stadelbauer is the joysticks.

“You have to change the joysticks from the joysticks supplied by the machine manufacturer. They’re removed and Topcon put their own joysticks on. Which makes it so much easier because there’s probably three functions that the operator doesn’t have to take his hands off the joysticks to change settings on the touch screen, where he can actually do it off the joystick. He can [check?] his elevation and other things like that,” said Mr Stadelbauer.

Mr Deon Cope, National Product Manager, JCB CEA has known Mr Stadelbauer for many years and noted that he was not only an early adopter of the auto excavator technology but also was one of the first to run Topcon GPS and runs this technology on all his JCB CEA machines.

“Peter was the first to order the new 220x next generation machine from JCB, this excavator has significant change from the previous JS model, there’s been significant improvement and changes to the machine and the hydraulics of the engine,” said Mr Cope.

Mr Cope also noted that the 220x series excavator and X-53x auto excavator system worked as seamlessly together as the teams at Position Partners and JCB CEA when it came to setting up the machine for ACI Excavations.

“We’re big believers of layering 2D and 3D machine control systems on local machines, rather than factory fitted systems,” Mr Cope said. “We’re the experts in the machines and Position Partners is the expert in these systems and it makes sense to lean on that support.”.

“Peter came to us and said he wanted to implement the auto excavator system and we’d never seen the system before, so we gave JCB in Europe a call and they said that this Topcon system had been successful on our machines in Europe so we worked with the Position Partners team to make it happen!”

“I’d always advise customers to engage with people who know the product – engage with your local machine provider and your local technology and system provider, have those group conversations about what you want, when you need it and how you want it installed,” added Mr Cope.

What benefits has ACI Excavations seen since implementing technology from Position Partners?

Since implementing the Topcon X-53x auto excavator system, the team at ACI Excavations has seen an increase in productivity and a decrease in fuel consumption. Mr Stadelbauer also notes that the X-53x auto excavator makes it easier when selecting staff.

“We’re getting good readings back on our fuel economy. The machine’s not working as hard, because the operator usually would be jerking the levers, but with the automated system installed he isn’t, it’s sort of flowing through smoothly,” said Mr Stadelbauer.

“It also makes it easier when you’re selecting staff, because as long as they’ve got some GPS experience they’ll understand the system and away you go. You can flick it into and out of auto with just a push of a button: to put it in you push two buttons and to take it out you push one. You don’t even look at the screen, it’s just done with your fingers.”

How has the technology improved things for the business?

Topcon’s X-53x auto excavator system has made excavating on site much more accurate and efficient for ACI Excavations’ team. The ability to put in the design file and let the auto excavator run through the application has reduced the need for re-working and saves a lot of time while reducing operator fatigue.

“Previously you’d have to set the file up for your project, start digging and go through the normal process of using a GPS 3D system, whereas especially with the top soiling and batters and ponds we just put in the file, put the 3m blade on and it’s just a no brainer, you just set it at whatever level you want and away you go,” said Mr Stadelbauer.

“Because you’ve got the ease of only one lever operation, it does basically all three functions with one lever, your right hand you can just stick it in your pocket if you want, it’s not needed.”

The importance of service and support

Having a local Position Partners team important is hugely important to Mr Stadelbauer. He regularly relies on the team for back up support and has found other equivalent systems don’t have that same support available.

Utilising Position Partners’ Tokara service, which provides remote access and support for machine systems and survey rovers, ACI Excavations is able to save time and maintain high productivity levels on site.  

“It all comes down to dollars and cents and if your machine’s parked up because you’ve got a problem you’re losing money,” he said. ”Because of the Tokara system we can ring tech support, who can remotely access the system to resolve any issues quickly,” said Mr Stadelbauer.

“With this machine it had a problem with the elevation on the switches. Often the operators play too much with the internals and they’re not supposed to, and the guy at Position Partners support spoke my operator through the process of getting it back up to where it should be.”

Remote troubleshooting is the Tokara Link feature that Mr Stadelbauer would peg as the most important for his team on site, with a close second going to the ability for surveyors to upload files to the machine while it is working.

“They don’t have to stop the machine, they just remote in, upgrade the file, delete the file it’s on and the operator just keeps on tracking, there’s no delay. There’s no downtime,” said Mr Stadelbauer.

“The 3D system that we’re using on all the other machines is still quite okay, there’s nothing wrong there, but that’s basically the old horse and this is the new horse and he’s a thoroughbred.”

About ACI Excavations

ACI Excavations has been in operation since 1998 and specialises in bulk earthworks, mainly wetlands and general plant hire.

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