Grading made easy
State-Wide Earthworks is achieving fine tolerance results with an EasyGrade grader attachment and total station machine control technology.
Specialising in design, civil contracts, vegetation control, earthworks, traffic control, demolition, plant hire and heavy haulage, State-Wide Earthworks is a Tasmanian company that caters for clients throughout the state.
The company’s earthworks division offers road construction and reconstruction, stormwater upgrades, council work and general earthworks services and has recently invested in the latest survey and machine control technology to save time, increase accuracy and improve productivity.
Installed on an EasyGrade grader attachment for the company’s CAT 259D skid steer, State-Wide Earthworks uses Topcon LPS machine control technology to achieve 10-15mm accuracy.
“We find the EasyGrade setup is ideal for the work we do, which is often on 200-300 metre stretches of road,” said Manager, Rob Dobie. “A standard size grader gave us too much overspill over the kerbs, damage to existing infrastructure and was generally too cumbersome in tight, built up areas.
“The box system on the other hand just picks up the material and carries it where it needs to go so there’s a lot less waste and tidy up,” he added. “We also find we can construct new roads without having to close them as the EasyGrade is small and accurate enough to be able to work in one lane, using traffic management, which we have never been able to do with a standard size grader.”
Mr Dobie explained the skid steer grader attachment was more versatile, with the ability to work on a variety of applications. “It’s a handy machine for smaller jobs like subdivisions and commercial developments as well,” he said.
LPS machine control utilises a high precision robotic total station and a prism mounted to a pole on the machine blade to deliver accurate positioning information and automatically adjust the grader’s cutting edge to work to the design.
“We chose LPS because of the accuracy it delivers and its ability to work in all environments including under dense tree coverage,” Mr Dobie said.
In addition to the grader machine control system, State-Wide has a Topcon 3D GPS excavator system on an 8-tonne Komatsu digger and a Topcon base and rover for survey set-out and as-built checks.
Before upgrading to its new 3D positioning technology, the company relied on more traditional stringline methods and 2D laser levelling systems.
“Our use of stringlines and lasers is now down to a minimum, we only use stringlines for the kerb machine to follow these days,” Mr Dobie said.
3D machine control technology is more versatile for the company’s work, Mr Dobie explained, giving them the ability to grade more complex designs and work to 2 or 3 gradients.
“Since installing the grader system earlier this year it’s been a great bonus, we regularly achieve 10mm accuracy for our road reconstruction and stormwater upgrade jobs,” he added.
Training the team on the new systems has been integral to their success. “Our operators needed some training initially to understand the layers and what the technology is capable of, which is when Tokara remote support was a great help,” Mr Dobie said.
Tokara is a remote support and telematics platform developed by Topcon’s Australian distributor Position Partners, specifically for the Australian construction industry.
With the ability to login to State-Wide’s machines or survey rover remotely, Position Partners technicians are able to diagnose technical problems, upgrade software and train the operator in a real-world environment.
Tokara also gives project managers and surveyors the option to transfer design files remotely without having to visit the machine in person. “We’ve used the file transfer option a few times now but in these early days the support side has been more valuable to us,” Mr Dobie said.
“Tokara has been key to our business in terms of getting us up and running with the 3D systems and learning the ropes with this new technology,” he added.