Grade Control On Excavators Opens Up Opportunities

Tuesday, November 03 rd, 2015

The benefits of machine control have been proven time and time again, yet despite this, the technology still hasn’t been adopted as widely as first thought – could that be about to change?

With the Cat® Grade Control 2D system now being available ready-to-work direct from the factory on the E-series range of Cat 312E to 349E excavators, it seems that more end users are now beginning to see the benefits. With ease of use, complete machine integration and simple maintenance as key features, it can also be easily upgraded to the 3D GPS system, for jobs where this extra functionality is required.

Ian Chapman, Finning Product Specialist, thinks machine control is now also becoming more financially viable: “The lack of adoption of machine control across the construction market has been one of the most frustrating issues I have encountered, especially as standalone systems have been in the market for nearly 13 years now.

“Even though in the last two to three years we have seen the technology being adopted by mainstream contractors and importantly plant hirers, it has always been seen as a niche investment.

“Perceived operator skill degradation and the potential for complacency played a part in slow take-up initially. However, people are now starting to appreciate the real value it has in terms of improving productivity, thanks largely to its adaptability and user-friendliness.

“We have seen from extensive studies that the Cat Grade Control 3D System has helped customers achieve increased productivity of up to 40%. But we also know from talking to operators and fleet managers that it has been very difficult to justify the additional expenditure associated with fitting machine control. But with the new 2D System, many customers can achieve these productivity improvements with a fraction of the initial outlay.

“Because the 2D system is now available direct from the factory, it’s become a fantastic entry level option for those considering entering the machine control and guidance market. The upgrade to 3D is then a simple process, because all of the sensors and controls are already installed on the machine so it is much more like a plug and play solution.

“Payback can be achieved through improved productivity and fuel cost savings, with factory calibration meaning operators can focus solely on the job in hand. So on arrival to the job site, all an operator has to do is simply enter his specific dig depth and slope requirements into the standard in-cab monitor, using the machine joysticks.”

Machine control gives the operator accurate information on cut and fill. If used properly this eliminates the need for reworking dramatically and improving fuel economy, which is almost a guaranteed payback for end users.

Ian continues: “One of the biggest benefits of the Cat grade control 3D system however is that it can be configured to create a full production excavating system. Particularly on the new E-series excavators where, if it is part of the customers specification, streamlined, factory-integrated components make maintenance a lot easier. This again partially eliminates another cost barrier that may have put off potential users of the grade control system.

“The 3D system can also be interlinked between different machines on a single site and even fleets. I really do think that this improved accessibility to machine control systems will see them become commonplace in the market. Ultimately businesses using the system will reap the rewards of improved operator productivity and machine efficiency, all of which save fuel and go through to the bottom line.”