GPS System Provides Efficiency

By Aram Kalousdian, Editor | September 28, 2010

Teri's Excavating, of Potterville, is realizing greater efficiency with the use of a Topcon global positioning system (GPS) on a grading operation for a 3,000-foot-long road construction project and a retention pond on Patient Care Drive and Physician Lane in Delhi Township. The system has eliminated the need for staking on the grading work.

"The only things we are staking for are utilities," Dean Leavitt, project manager/estimator for Teri's Excavating, said. The project includes installation of concrete storm sewer, SDR 35 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sanitary sewer, and ductile iron water main. TCI Inc., of Michigan, which is based in Eaton Rapids, is the prime contractor for the project.

"We've been using the GPS system on our machines for approximately 1-1/2 years. We first used it on a grader all of last year and had good luck with it. Then we ordered a new Cat D6K dozer and we put the GPS on that as soon as it came in. We've had the GPS on that for approximately one month," Leavitt said.

The Topcon 8000 series is tied directly into the electronics of the joystick. "We used to put in a separate hydraulic valve to control the elevation and tilt of the blade. Now, we tie-in strictly to the electronics. So, there is no valve, but it has complete hydraulics for elevation and tilt control," Mike Fitzpatrick, president of Michigan Laser, Inc., of Novi, said. Michigan Laser is a distributor for Topcon. Fitzpatrick said that the elimination of the hydraulic valve has provided more cost-effectiveness and the performance of the system is as good or better.

"The other advantage is that, typically, when you have a hydraulic and automatic with a valve system and manually make a correction when it's in automatic, you're fighting the valve. This way, the operator has complete control without disengaging the automation," Fitzpatrick said.

"The automation is very intelligent as far as where the elevation is and where the grade is, but it doesn't know material."

The project includes moving approximately 5,000 cubic yards of dirt on-site and importing 8,000 cubic yards of dirt.


Project: Construction of Patient Care Drive and Physician Lane in Delhi Township

Prime contractor: TCI Inc., of Michigan

Subcontractor: Teri's Excavating, of Potterville