Now that R&G Construction Co., of Marshall, MN, has worked with Ziegler to streamline their grading operations by incorporating GPS into their fleet, things are running a whole lot smoother on their job sites.
“Once we applied automatic GPS to the dozer blades and integrated the Trimble® GPS systems into some of our existing equipment, that was the end of staking and blue tops,” says office manager and GPS coordinator Rick Schaeffer. “It was immediately recognized as something that could benefit us and our customers.”
MnDOT was one of the first to recognize the benefits. In 2003, they strongly recommended the firm utilize GPS grade control on the Highway 23 project near Spicer, Minnesota.
New Dozer, Capabilities ‘Talk of the Town’
In the spring of 2005, R&G took their interests and investments a step further by becoming the first company in the state of Minnesota to purchase the new Cat D6R II LGP dozer with a factory installed GCS900. These machines utilize a screen that allows the operator to monitor the grading progress with three-dimensional (3D) imaging. As the tractor is maneuvered throughout the job site, the system automatically supplies the computer-controlled hydraulic system with the necessary information to raise and lower the blade according to programmed specs.
Since then, the dozer has been the talk of the town.
Less Labor, Saves Time and Money
“We love it because it requires less labor, which certainly saves us time and money,” says Schaeffer. “It’s also a huge safety benefit to be able to minimize the number of people on the job site. Because it’s a one-pass operation, we’re able to get the job done that much faster without the need for other equipment.”
But before they start reaping the benefits on any of their contracts, the R&G GPS coordinator has several items to check off on his to-do list. After acquiring the surveying information, Schaeffer utilizes three different software programs to develop 3D models for final grading. Terramodel allows Schaeffer to construct the models based on information gathered from survey crews regarding the existing terrain and contract specifications. Once the file is created, each change must be verified and checked against compiled information. Then, SiteVision Office allows him to upload the finalized, verified file directly into the Dozer’s GPS system. Additional software, SCS900, is utilized to format and upload the 3D file into site rovers and handheld devices.
Schaeffer says the entire model development process can take anywhere from one week to three months, depending on the job. “It’s taken some orientation,” says Schaeffer, “but our Ziegler sales representative, Todd Lindenberg, has been very helpful.”
Convincing R & G operators to fully embrace the new technology was also a challenge for Schaeffer. “They were certainly hesitant,” he says. “But now that they’re acclimated they wonder how we ever managed without it.”
Along with a motor grader, and a GPS base and rover, the new dozer is currently finishing final grading on the Marshall Municipal Airport Crosswinds runway extension in this southwestern Minnesota town. In addition to the airport site, R & G has three GPS bases, and other GPS equipped machines, at job sites throughout Minnesota and South Dakota.
“The transition has absolutely been worth it for us,” says Schaeffer. “And once other contractors recognize the benefits associated with this technology, it’s going to spread throughout the industry like wildfire.”