Software and control innovations introduced

New developments in construction machine control systems and construction software are helping to change the face of the industry
Connected Construction / August 28, 2023
By Mike Woof
A new Topcon package is aimed at use with compact machines
A new Topcon package is aimed at use with compact machines

The construction industry is seeing the rapid development of new software and machine control solutions that can help deliver projects faster and more efficiently, as well as more safely.

New developments in machine control systems will help deliver high-quality results in less time for a range of construction applications. A key innovation is the availability of new systems aimed at the compact machine segment. Both Topcon and Trimble now have systems for this section of the market.

Mark Contino is vice-president of North American Retail Distribution at Topcon Positioning Systems and commented that machine control technology is now well-accepted on larger projects, “We’ve been doing GPS since the late 1990s. It’s not new anymore. Everyone uses it now.”

Contino said that while many firms use Topcon machine control tools on large items of construction equipment, there has been a pent-up demand for simpler units to use on compact machines.

The company says that its MC-Mobile system is designed to meet the needs of users of compact equipment, many of which are much smaller contractors. The system has been tailored for use with customers such as owner-operators. Contino said, “A lot of these companies don’t even have an office. Their office is the cab of their truck.” He continued, “We’ve taken machine control and entered into the compact machine space.”

A laser can be used to take points onsite, a task taking 25-30 minutes, and the customer can then use the data to build a model using a tablet device. The same tablet then can be mounted on the item of compact equipment for the operator to follow the design. A GNSS capable option is also being made available for the MC-Mobile product offering.

“We initially built MC-Mobile with the smaller or mid-size contractor in mind,” said Murray Lodge, executive vice-president and general manager, Topcon. “Working with a prism pole and our 3D robotic instrument, the LN-150, users easily measure, design and build right onsite, expanding their capabilities. Now, this new GNSS option allows fleet managers to easily integrate compact machines into much larger, more complex, workflows. Both the local positioning system (LPS) and GNSS versions are made possible thanks to the MC-X platform.”

Meanwhile, a new package from Trimble is aimed at delivering machine control technology for the compact equipment market segment. The same tool used for the surveying task can then be put on the machine as a guidance package. Casey Cyrus, business area manager for surveying from the firm explained, “You can tell you’re on grade with a light bar.”

The Siteworks Machine Guidance system is suited for use with compact machines such as skid steer loads or mini excavators and offers a lower cost than the more sophisticated packages for larger machines. Cyrus said that the system will meet the needs of smaller contractors, “Lots of folks are looking for their first steps in machine control.”

The receiver system can be bolted onto a machine boom quickly and is held in place by a single, heavy-duty screw. An IMU device is fitted to the machine and provides the movement data wirelessly to the system.

Jack Young is product manager for the system and commented, “There’s a lot of excitement from having an entry point into the machine control market.”  

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