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Better Accuracy and Efficiency

by: Mark Bird
As GPS technology utilization continues to grow and evolve, the construction industry is reaping the benefits, including savings in time and expenses, optimized fleet management, greater productivity, and improved customer satisfaction. And it is not only the big contractors and large scale projects who are experiencing these benefits – smaller and specialized construction firms are also discovering the advantages of site technology solutions.
Choosing Innovative Technology
Advanced Underground & Grading, based in White Lake, Michigan, specializes in small to midsize utility projects including water main, storm, sewer and sanitary, mass grading, and parking lot grading jobs. In December 2022, the company completed site development work on a 1.3 acre, $4.2 million car wash installation project in Shelby Township, Michigan. According to Advanced Underground & Grading Owner/Operator Jayme Junga, the site work and utilities portion of this project is approximately $400,000. The project included moving approximately 3,900 yards of dirt, putting in approximately 2,100 tons of Class II sand, spreading 1,100 tons 21AA limestone for parking lot and curbs, installing 700 feet of 12-inch reinforced concrete pipe, 175 feet of 6-foot SCH40 sanitary, and 10 manholes.

On this site, Advanced Underground & Grading utilized Caterpillar 330 and 315 Excavators, a Caterpillar D5 Dozer, and a Caterpillar 938 Wheel Loader. The excavators and dozer were equipped with Trimble machine grade control technology from SITECH Michigan, which is based in Novi. As Nick Pinaire, SITECH Michigan General Manager, reports, “The excavators and dozer were equipped with Trimble 3D Earthworks GPS machine grade control technology which can achieve 3/4-inch grade accuracies. The excavators use 3D machine grade control to dig and lay water drainage according to the design while the dozer uses the technology to achieve finish grade.”

Junga comments, “Trimble GPS reduces the time needed for projects, alleviates the need for multiple surveys, tightens margins and overruns on materials – saving clients money – and offers better accuracy and efficiency.”

The Trimble GPS system uses a base station which communicates with satellites, and the satellites communicate with the construction machines, each of which has a radio receiver and a display inside the cab. Kevin Ackley, SITECH Michigan Sales Representative, explains, “A base station helps provide real-time corrections on the jobsite taking a +/- 50 ft accuracy level that the GPS satellite provides (similar to what the GPS Garmin in your car might have) and refines it to achieve 1/4-inch horizontal and 3/4-inch vertical survey foot accuracies.

“The satellites and machines all talk to each other and give site corrections instantaneously and anytime on the site. You can always tell your elevations,” says Ackley.

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He explains that Trimble Business Center software takes an engineer’s design files and converts them to buildable 3D design files which can then be uploaded into machines to begin work. “We get CAD files and the PDF files from the customer; we ship those down to SITECH Engineering Services and they make our design for us. Then, through the use of thumb drives or cloud processing, the design information is uploaded to the machines, the site is calibrated, and away we go.”

Ackley notes that with the purchase of a technology system, SITECH Michigan typically provides one year of onsite training and support. In addition, SITECH offers in-house training during the off-season to sharpen skills. After one year, connected remote support and on-demand field service exists to assist customer uptime and utilization.

Real Results
Junga reports, “We are seeing between a 15 to 20 percent increase in productivity and a 15 to 20 percent savings in materials by using this technology with better quality and accuracies. If there is a job or design change, within a few hours we can get on the phone, they can make the changes we need and update the machine control.

“Finding qualified people is getting harder and harder every day,” he continues. “Moving into Trimble GPS Earthworks has allowed us to take on more work, eliminate grade stakes, finish projects faster – without as much labor as we used to have. We can bid tighter on materials because our tolerances are so good and not over-order materials. SITECH Michigan is keeping us up to speed with evolving technology, and the options are endless.”

Pinaire adds, “SITECH Michigan's proven Trimble technologies help contractors make progress with common industry problems like safety, labor shortages, productivity, material cost (inflation), quality, and collaboration across the jobsite.”

SITECH serves as a global distribution network for Trimble technology solutions including machine control, site positioning surveys, and construction software. SITECH Michigan, established in 2010, serves the local Michigan market with eight physical locations across the state, assisting area contractors with a full range of jobsite technology solutions.

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