Key technology moves for Leica Geosystems

Leica Geosystems is developing its product offerings with key moves.
Connected Construction / July 9, 2024 1 minute 3 seconds Read
By MJ Woof
Hexagon’s acquisition of Xwatch is a key addition to the firm’s technology range

Leica Geosystems is cementing its position in the market for machine control technology with a series of key product introductions and business moves.

Perhaps the firm’s most significant development has been the move by its parent, Hexagon, to purchase UK company Xwatch Safety Solutions. This strategic move that expands Hexagon’s portfolio and sits neatly alongside Leica Geosystems. Xwatch has been a pioneer in the field of construction machine safety systems with its XW series, which has features such as height control, slew control, and rated capacity indication (RCI).

The XW Series units help operators set up safe virtual working zones, boosting safety measures around equipment. The strategic move for Hexagon is that it follows the collaboration between Xwatch and Leica Geosystems, already part of Hexagon. This has resulted in the innovative 3D Avoidance Zone system.

Coupling the Xwatch XW Series with the 3D machine control systems from Leica Geosystems means that machine operators can now set out safe zones right across a worksite, without having to reset the technology every time the machine is moved. For example, when a wheeled excavator is being used on a highway job alongside live traffic, the operator can carry out the job at each area then move the machine and begin working again immediately. The system ensures that the machine only operates within the limits of safe zone and the boom or counterweight cannot overhang the live traffic lanes. The Xwatch system works with the 3D control from Leica Geosystems to generate a safe working corridor within the restrictions of the highway. And the system disables the machine hydraulics if the operator accidentally moves beyond the safe working zone.

This is a significant step as it integrates the safety solutions from Xwatch within Hexagon’s range of construction tools to improve risk management and decision-making processes, delivering safer construction environments.  

Dan Leaney, director of Sales and Operations at Xwatch Safety Solutions commented: "Joining Hexagon represents a transformative opportunity for us to push the boundaries of safety technology in the construction industry. It allows us to leverage Hexagon's global expertise and reach, bringing our cutting-edge safety solutions to a wider audience and significantly impacting worker safety worldwide.  

Meanwhile, Leica Geosystems is widening its array of 3D machine control solutions with the introduction of its Leica iCON gps 120. This smart antenna offers customers a versatile machine control solution.

The new Leica iCON 120 Machine Smart Antenna is integrated into the existing Leica MC1 solution platform and extends the machine control solution to more applications and machine types. Construction machines such as compaction rollers, which usually require only lower levels of accuracy without heading, can now be equipped with a tailor-made Leica MC1 machine control solution. This allows streamlined operations and consistent workflows between heavy construction equipment that vary in application requirements. Using the Leica MC1 machine control solution allows operators to carry out jobs more quickly and accurately, boosting fleet efficiency and reducing waste.

Construction customers can start with a single GNSS solution using a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) or HxGN SmartNet PPP service. If they need higher specifications, they can upgrade to an RTK solution with low or high accuracy by adding the communication unit Leica CR50. With a second iCON gps 120 Machine Smart Antenna, customers get a full high-accuracy dual GNSS solution with heading. A key feature of the design is that the antennas can be switched easily between Leica MC1 prepared machines due to the simple quick disconnect system. 
“This solution is more versatile than our previous solution. You can take it from one machine to another and it’s perfect for rental machines. It’s an addition to our range, not a replacement for an existing unit,” according to Tommi Kauppinen, vice president, Heavy Construction, Machine Control Field Solutions at Leica Geosystems.

And in addition, JCB and Leica Geosystems are now offering factory-fitted 2D and 3D-ready semi-automated excavator control solutions. The INTELLIGRADE solutions are offered across the JCB X Series range.

Leica Geosystems 2D and 3D-ready machine control solutions are available with semi-auto configuration to enhance productivity, accuracy, and safety by automating functions such as boom, bucket and tilt rotator control, and to reduce human error in construction operations.

Working to predetermined site plans, the 2D machine control system provides real-time guidance and accuracy for tasks such as grading and levelling, ensuring the excavator's bucket or blade achieves the desired slope or elevation. This solution is ideal for projects that involve simple terrain or require basic grading.

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