Trimble’s 3D guidance for wheel loaders

Trimble’s new 12.81 version of the GC900 Grade Control System is now available to the global market through its Sitech dealer footprint.

Trimble’s new 12.81 version of the GC900 Grade Control System is now available to the global market through its Sitech dealer footprint.

A new version of the Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System allows for a 40% increase in productivity in material placement and grading applications.

Trimble has launched the new 12.81 version of its GC900 Grade Control System to the global market through its Sitech dealer footprint. Previous versions of the Trimble GCS900 catered for machines such as dozers, motor graders, scrapers, excavators and compactors, and the new 12.81 version now expands the mix of machines to include wheel loaders.

The new technology means that Trimble is now able to offer contractors the much needed productivity-driven technology across mixed fleets and for all phases of the project life cycle, says Ryan Kunisch, marketing director for Trimble’s Civil Engineering and Construction Division. The new configuration for wheel loaders increases productivity in both fine and rough grading applications, according to Kunisch.

“Trimble GCS900 version 12.81 means big productivity gains for contractors who operate wheel loaders,” says Kunisch. “We have seen up to a 40% increase in productivity in material placement and grading activities and typically 25% reduction in undercutting when the GCS900 system is used.”

The hardware of this system comprises two Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNNS) antennas mounted on the front of the machine. The two antennas receive satellite correction data, which together with correction data from either a local reference station or a virtual reference station (VRS) or internet base station (IBSS) network correction signal, report the position of these antennas to an in-cabin control box holding the 3D design file.

“Additionally, angle sensors installed on the boom and bucket of the wheel loader detect the actual positioning of the bucket,” says Martin Wagener, worldwide product implementation manager at Trimble’s Civil Engineering and Construction Division. All measurement data combined are constantly compared with the design file stored on the control box. The system can, with all this information, display to the operator 20 times a second how they need to monitor the bucket to get the both sides of the bucket in an accurate on-grade position.

Light bar indicators installed in the cabin give intuitive up and down information to the operator to ensure that he keeps the bucket on the right height and also allow him to follow horizontal guidelines, such as the outer line of a road profile, for example.

Until the latest release of the GCS900 version 12.81, Trimble’s wheel loader support was limited to cabin-mounted GNSS positioning, where basically the positions of the tyres could be monitored, says Wagener. Now with the integration of angle sensors on the boom and bucket of the wheel loader, operators can measure the exact position of the bucket tips on both sides of the bucket.

The hardware of this system comprises two GNNS antennas mounted on the front of the machine.

The hardware of this system comprises two GNNS antennas mounted on the front of the machine.


 

The new 12.81 version of the Trimble GCS900 means that operators of wheel loaders can now increase their return on investment through improved productivity gains, notesKunisch. In material placement and grading applications, productivity can be increased by as much as 40%, while a 25% reduction in undercutting can be realised. This is made possible by the fact that the operator gets very accurate (1-3cm) height information of the bucket tips and can now grade material faster, with very few attempts, to the designed surface. This also saves time, labour costs and fuel, reasons Balcaite.

The two antennas receive satellite correction data, which together with correction data from either a local reference station or a VRS or IBSS network correction signal, report the position of these antennas to in-cabin control box holding the 3D design file.

The two antennas receive satellite correction data, which together with correction data from either a local reference station or a VRS or IBSS network correction signal, report the position of these antennas to in-cabin control box holding the 3D design file.


 

Return on ROI

“Operators can now precisely control the amount of material being graded, improve fine grading accuracy and time, as well as reduce the potential for undercutting the surface during material placement or removal,” says Kunisch.

Using a wheel loader equipped with GCS900, contractors can also track material weight with a Trimble Loadrite weighing system. While the Trimble Loadrite weighing system is not integrated into the GCS900 system, many contractors working in material handling applications and aggregate production want to work to specific designs, saysWagener.   In that case, it is possible to install both the GCS900 and the Loadrite weighing system.

Meanwhile, for a more accurate and complete picture of project progress, material placement and grade can be monitored by a VisionLink Project Monitoring subscription. VisionLink allows material handlers and site supervisors to understand cycles of machine usage and material flow. For example, both the 3D information in relation to the actual status of the project and material needed, as well as the usage of the machine in terms of working hours and movements, can be reported straight from the machine to VisionLink by using a site gateway modem called SNM940 which comes standard in the GCS900’s installation kit.

In material placement and grading applications, productivity can be increased by as much as 40%.

In material placement and grading applications, productivity can be increased by as much as 40%.


 

Navigating Africa

African contractors are buying into these new technologies to improve productivity at sites. However, Andrew Caldwell, regional manager at Trimble, says the adoption across the continent varies from area to area. He reasons that where international contractors are operating, they do come with these technologies. He cites an increase in uptake, particularly in west Africa where many French contractors are undertaking construction jobs.

This in turn has led to local contractors also turning to the technology as they have seen the benefits being gained by their international counterparts. Southern Africa, according to Caldwell, is fairly developed and many local contractors have adopted the technology which is now widely used across the SADC countries.

While the market for these technologies is still at an educational stage on the continent, where suppliers still have to explain the benefits of using these technologies to improve productivity, Caldwell feels South Africa, supported by Trimble’s most established SITECH dealer on the continent, is a more advanced than its African peers.

Despite the slow uptake of the technology, Caldwell maintains that the African space is still a big development area for Trimble’s technologies. The company sells at contractor level but has also established relationships with equipment suppliers. He believes that when times are this tough, adoption of construction technologies should be of priority for contractors to increase margins on their construction projects and increase their return on capital investments.

To support the adoption of this technology locally, Trimble has established an extensive dealer footprint which now covers 70% of the continent, with dealers in Senegal for the west African territories, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo for north west and central African regions, respectively. Sub Saharan Africa is well represented with offices in Kenya, Zambia, as well as South Africa which has several branches in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Equipment Africa says: While many African contractors see the benefits of Trimble’s technologies and are well aware of the potential gains, some still feel the sizes of contracts cannot afford them the upfront costs of these hi-tech systems. But, amid a challenging operational landscape, adoption of productivity enhancement technologies should be of priority for contractors. Upfront costs may be astronomic but the returns over time are even massive.

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