If you’ve invested in machine control technology, congratulations on embracing a more efficient and productive way to get to grade! However, your purchase is only the first step in the process of reaping the benefits – to really take it to the next level you need to ensure that you fully understand it, and for that you would be well advised to put yourself and your team through a training course to learn the ins and outs of your new system.
Machine control training courses such as those run by the Campus team at Position Partners, give you a thorough background knowledge of what machine control technology is, how it works, the various components used on the machine and the workflow to complete a project.
You will learn the fundamentals of machine control technology, including what makes up a 2D system as this forms the basis for 3D machine control technology.
An overview of how GPS works will enable you to understand the different configurations available and what best suits the application and tolerance levels required, including single antenna, dual antenna, twin antennas or a combination of GPS and laser positioning known as Topcon mmGPS.
Understanding what a GPS base station does on site and the differences between UHF radio corrections and network GPS configurations is vital to ensure you are not only getting the best results from your GPS machine control, but also that you are meeting your legal requirements due to new laws that came into place set by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA).
Learning about the different sensors and machine control components will enable you to understand what the system incorporates and how it works with the machine to get you to grade. You will be guided through the various components including the blade, slope, rotation and main-fall sensors and how they all work on the machine.
In addition to the machine components, it is important to learn about the overall workflow of a project and how machine control fits into the wider picture. You will be given an overview of the different types of data and how the design is converted into a working machine control file and loaded into the control box in the cab, either via a USB stick or remotely using a telematics solution such as Tokara, which enables the file transfer to happen wirelessly using the Internet.
A dedicated training course will run through how to configure a new machine file, specific to the make and model of machine and type of attachment you are using. There will be unique measurements for each configuration and it is essential that these are entered correctly to ensure you get accurate, consistent results.
If you have a machine control system setup on a grader, you will need to know how to configure the system for grader articulation and how to maximise performance and identify and solve potential errors that can arise if the configuration is not correct.
For excavators, where there are more moving parts and a great number of different attachments that may need to be configured, learning how to measure up each bucket correctly is essential.
Each configuration only needs to be measured once, you will be shown how to add in new configurations and how to select machine files when you change the attachment or swap the machine control system to a different machine.
Another important aspect is the ability to perform position checks at the start of each day. This is done by placing the edge of your blade/bucket on a known survey mark to check that the positioning information is the same. Doing this at the start of each day will help you achieve consistent accuracy and minimise the potential for error.
A number of ‘tips and tricks’ such as how to store levels and how to back up your machine files to ensure that you never lose your data will be of great benefit. In addition, you can customise the user interface on the control box so that you have the most relevant information to hand, displayed in a way that suits your individual preferences.
Understanding the effects of machine wear and tear on your system is also important. Knowing what is and is not achievable with the type of machine and machine control system you have will help you to get the most out of it – often it is capable of doing more than you think! A thorough run-through of slope capabilities and best practice measures for working on slopes will be covered in the course.
A series of troubleshooting tips will help you to solve a number of minor problems quickly and easily, without the need to call a technician or a surveyor out to the machine. Eliminate performance issues such as duck walking and waves and learn about correct machine maintenance procedures.
Learning best practice at the beginning will save you a lot of time and help make you as efficient as possible with your new machine control system. Even if you’ve used the technology for a number of years, there are bound to have been improvements and new features that you can learn about to help make the workflow easier.
Technology is constantly evolving, so it is important to evolve your skills alongside it to make sure you are getting the most out of your system. Attending a training course may take a day or two out of your busy working week, however the time savings you get back from using the system more efficiently and reducing downtime will quickly make up the time.