A Flexible Upgrade

Machine grading control systems have something in common with project delivery systems
By Don Talend, Contributing Editor | October 2009 Vol. 64 No. 10
A Haydon operator views a topographical layout of the AZ job site on a GX 60 monitor while digging with a Caterpillar 330 CL.

He added that Branco’s TAZNet (Topcon Arizona Network), which went online in mid 2007, reaches the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas. “What it allows [Haydon] to do is take their base and rovers that they may already have and instead of tying up that base station on that job, gives them the flexibility of taking that base station and converting it to a rover. Someone like Jeff is able to use it for his survey work and not have that base station on the job at all times.” Once Branco installs cables and sensors on the machine and activates the modem, the contractor accesses the network via a wireless telecommunications service provider.

GNSS has become even more reliable and accurate in recent years by adding compatibility with the Russian GLONASS satellite constellation as well as the U.S. Global Positioning System constellation. This dual constellation capability roughly doubles the number of signals available to the GNSS antenna/receivers and provides a high degree of positioning accuracy.

Like CM at Risk project delivery, this equipment can provide flexibility to the grading or excavation portions of a project. “Things change so quickly and if we have our 3 D model set up and we want to pull off one section of the job and go to the next, we don’t have to get the surveyors to come out and re-stake it,” says Fields. “This technology gives us the ability to do that. That’s one of the big reasons we decided to go with the 3 D system.” Fields, who has a surveying background, learned conventional surveying skills while working for his grandfather starting at age 14 and eventually surveying in several Midwestern and Western states over the years. He now uses the GNSS equipment to verify takeoff estimates and collect location data used to build digital site models using Carlson software. Fields also troubleshoots the system with the help of Branco and Hermsen, noting that a phone call gets the system up and running again quickly.