Maximising Earthworks Productivity with Topcon’s Auto Excavator

In a recent McKinsey survey of 400 construction industry CxOs, 87 per cent said that skilled labour was becoming increasingly scarce and expensive, and almost half said this will impact the whole industry in the next year (1)
December 14, 2021


The severe shortage of construction workers is recognised worldwide, and this is particularly felt when it comes to site work and excavation, with contractors unable to find skilled and experienced staff to meet strict deadlines. An early part of many construction projects, the excavation process – if not done accurately – can cause further problems across the entire site, delay the start of later phases and result in spiralling costs and missed deadlines.

To help contractors avoid these issues, Topcon Positioning Group has created the X-53x Auto Excavator. The X-53x utilises advanced GPS positioning technology and the latest sensors to ensure that operators receive real-time, dynamic, on-screen bucket location and design views. The system enhances productivity levels by up to 30 per cent – helping beginners to dig like a pro and even the most experienced operators to work smarter and faster.

With the X-53x, it’s possible to load a grade or trench design into the system and dig to almost any design grade surface – no matter how complex. As long as the operator follows guidance to position the excavator correctly, the automatic system can take over as the bucket nears the design surface, with the operator simply needing to pull back the bucket using a singular joystick. This means that even inexperienced graders can work on the most complex tasks with no compromise on quality.

The X-53x also removes the need for someone to check the grade from the trench – a huge safety benefit – as pre-loaded and real-time designs can be compared from inside the cab. This also turns a multi-person job into a single-person job, meaning vast savings on costs and resources.

After investing in the X-53x, James Cucheran, supervisor for Regehr, said: “The fact that it could reduce the size of our trenching crews was attractive, as was the accuracy it could deliver – both in direction and depth.

“My operator can cut his subgrade and be consistently within one or two centimetres without anyone needing to check it with GPS or a laser behind him. So, between that and the streamlined layout function, we can now use that rod man and one surveyor elsewhere on site.”

As the demand for new infrastructure grows, so too does the need for efficient, fault-free earthworks – which can only be achieved through technology adoption. Topcon’s X-53x is ideally placed to enhance the productivity and accuracy of both inexperienced and veteran operators – saving time, costs and resources for contractors.

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