grade control system for construction equipment

Source: Direct Industry

In recent years, grade control systems for motor graders, crawler dozers and excavators have revolutionised construction. This new technology increases grading accuracy and job efficiency by combining digital design data with in-cab guidance features.

Although this innovation does not come cheap, it's estimated that making use of a grade control system can increase productivity by up to 40 percent. It may also significantly reduce material, equipment and labour costs.

Grade control systems

2D and 3D machine guidance systems are in-cab technology designed for fine grading work. These sophisticated systems make use of sensors, lasers and transmitters to improve the efficiency, accuracy and productivity of motor graders, excavators and crawler dozers.

The choice of a 2D or 3D grade control system depends on the nature of the job-site. As grade control systems are designed to be user-friendly and are easily upgradable, operators can first familiarise themselves with a 2D system in preparation for the upgrade to a 3D grade control system.

2D grade control systems

A 2D grade control system gives the operator the precise vertical guidance necessary to achieve tight tolerances and a smooth finished grade on a single plane (either flat or slightly sloping surfaces).

The system uses lasers, angle sensors and rotational sensors to measure the lift, tilt and cross slope of either side of the blade, and uses a laser receiver for elevation control. This ensures 3-5 mm vertical accuracies and virtually removes the need for physical references (such as stakes).

3D grade control systems

A 3D grade control system uses elevation coordinates set up around the jobsite to grade valleys, ditches and contours more accurately and efficiently. The system uses design data loaded onto the machine’s on-board computer and real-time GPS signals to calculate an accurate cutting-edge position.

The system then compares this data to the input design elevations to display cut-and-fill information. This means that the operator will use accurate design data, rather than potentially flawed reference points to complete the job.

As a result, the machine operator can complete a job without supervision and site design knowledge. The system is compatible with 3D design files from a broad range of design suites.

Aside from displaying multiple views of the different design target layers, a 3D system also records data on the progress and quality of the grade or excavation, and can transmit live point data, machine diagnostics and jobsite progress to an office computer.

Potential benefits of grade control systems

Improved accuracy

Grade control systems calculate more accurate estimates and provide exceptional grading accuracy. This eliminates grading errors and reduces the number of passes required.

Improved efficiency

Grade control systems eliminate the need for on-site reference points. As a result, the operator does not need to exit the cab to position or reposition references, allowing jobs to be completed more efficiently.

Reduced material and equipment costs

A grade control system will pay for itself over time by providing greater accuracy and savings on materials and equipment.

For example, mobilising a site for development without grade control requires two dozers, two articulated dump trucks, one excavator and one tractor. While with grade control, contractors only need one grade control-enabled dozer, two articulated dump trucks, one excavator and one tractor.

Reduced labour cost

 When grade control systems are used, fewer people are needed on the ground. For example, without grade control, a cut-and-fill assignment typically requires one labourer and six operators. With grade control, the job requires no labourer and, on average, only five operators.

In addition, the use of a grade control system removes the need for a third-party surveyor – the technology performs this individual's function.

Improved site safety

All in all, having fewer people on the ground increases the safety of a job site.

Reduced need for highly skilled operators

With the use of a grade control system, operators do not need the same level of skill as when operating machinery without grade control. Therefore, grade control allows less-experienced operators to perform the tasks of highly skilled operators.

At KH Plant, we don't offer grade control systems – but we do help reduce construction costs and improve productivity by restoring Caterpillar 140G, 140H and 140K motor graders and components to as-new condition.  That means you can get the benefits of a new motor grader at a fraction of the cost of a new machine. Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.

Contact us for more information