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[Technology] GPS-Assisted Excavations

We all know that geo-positioning is not the newest innovation in technology. We all have it in our phones, some has in cars and other “smart” accessories.

But in recent times 3D GPS are wisely used also in the excavation industry.

The main advantages can be easily spotted, but some few more words are worth spent.
Can a GPS tool installed in my trencher be a profitable investment?

Let’s see how.

  1. Accuracy. This is the main advantage, the first one anyone can have immediately in mind. With a GPS system my excavation work can be more accurate. How much accurate? Leica Geosystems assures that with new technologies excavators can supply grading accuracy down to 1 1\4 inches (3.175 cm)
  2. Security. Of course, more accuracy means more security. Being able to real-time check our work can give the operator more confidence in its work, the 3D positioning can help him with another eye on the trench. Before the advent of 3-D GPS systems for excavators, grading required the placement of wooden stakes marked with cut and fill information indicating where material was to be excavated to achieve the design grade. After initial machine passes, the grade checker would then remove the stakes or add additional stakes with new cut or fill information
  3. These factors all bring us to the enhanced productivity of our machines. GPS can speed up the excavation process when the soil isn’t plain, when there are pre-existents underground utilities, it can avoid damages to machines and – of course – accidents. Reduce costs, speeds the work, reduce injuries.


So how manufacturers deal with this issue?

Vermeer: Contractors that use a Vermeer surface excavation machine for surface mining, haul road construction and site preparation now have the option of adding GPS-guided steering, which can improve cutting accuracy and operator consistency.

Using technology from Trimble, a global leader in GPS technology, the Vermeer T1255 direct drive Terrain Leveler® surface excavation machine (SEM) now offers GPS steering as an option.

Mining companies are at the forefront of machine automation, and we worked with Trimble to develop an innovative solution for customers interested in automated steering,” said Chris Lynch, sales manager for the mining and pipeline group at Vermeer.



When equipped with this optional feature, machine steering is controlled by an onboard GPS device that can detect deviations from the designed line to provide greater accuracy on each cutting pass. The optional system provides a cutting overlap of 6 inches (15.2 cm), helping to enhance productivity with each pass.

Companies have used a variety of methods to steer their surface excavation machines,” Lynch said. “Also, different operators use different methods meaning steering methods might change between the day shift operator and the night shift operator. GPS steering technology helps bring enhanced consistency to the process.”

Tesmec: TrenchIntel has a high-level accuracy and is TrenchTronic 3.0 ready. The integration between differential GPS automatic machine guidance system and TrenchTronic 3.0 electronic control provides full automatic operation capability, alignment control through auto steering included.After a simple pre-set of working parameters and operator initialization the machine is able to execute excavation by itself, so that the operator‘s task can be simply to survey the progress and check safety issues without stress. Benefits demonstrated on the TrenchTronic control are: ease of use, performance increase, modularity and reliability.Furthermore, all critical data of the machine (operating parameters, engine data, hydraulic system data, and diagnostic data) are transmitted regularly via a GPRS system and stored in a specific server.

Finally, it is obvious that when the GPS is not already installed in the machine by standard fabrication, it can be adopted in a second time. A used machine can be upgraded with a GPS monitoring system, so it is not a prerogative of brand new models.




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