How can compact excavators benefit from machine control as big heavy construction machines

Leica Geosystems brings new efficiency to small- and medium-sized operations with a 3D machine control solution designed for compact excavators.

Leica iCON site excavator simple machine control solution for heavy construction.

Author: Olga Papandreou

Construction companies are under increasing pressure to meet aggressive deadlines on slim budgets. This is challenging, especially for small family-owned businesses but also for large heavy and civil construction companies running compact excavators. Until now, machine-control solutions were mostly available for big machines due to their sizable investment for hardware and software. Now, Leica Geosystems bring the benefits of machine control to small-scale excavators with an affordable and intuitive solution that enables them to execute excavation designs more quickly, easily and accurately than ever before! This is an exciting solution and we could not wait to hear more about it from Matthias Schmidt, Manager Portfolio Field and GNSS, and Morten Nissen, Product Manager Earthmoving. After a discussion with them, we are summarizing the five ways the new iCON site excavator can improve how companies utilise their compact excavators and their operators.

1. It makes digital construction and machine-control technology more accessible.

It has been proven that 3D machine-control solutions can bring significant benefits to heavy construction operations by providing more efficient and productive ways to work with construction machines. But systems sophistication and the up-front investment have been limiting factors for small-scale machines. In response, Leica Geosystems have specifically developed iCON site excavator to be an affordable, intuitive and easy-to-learn entry point into digital construction and machine-control technology – without sacrificing functionality. The result is an intelligent and accessible solution for small construction companies and rental companies deploying small excavators. The solution is suitable for all compact excavators with swing boom, tilt rotator or tilt bucket functionalities that could benefit from the precision of 3D machine-control technology.

2. The operator is no longer 'just the operator'. 

When the iCON site excavator is used in conjunction with other iCON site applications, small-machine operators can autonomously execute more tasks than ever before – and within the same system. This solution empowers machine operators to do so much more than just move dirt, which streamlines production and labour costs. For example, an operator could start a project by generating a design in the existing software – drawing a simple design in the Sketch application or creating surfaces from as-built points in the Measure or Slope applications. Once excavation begins based on these plans, the operator can measure as-built points using the iCON site excavator’s as-built logging capability, which uses the tip of the bucket as a measurement device. Alternatively, the operator can use the As-Built application to check the final result against the design, using a Smart Antenna. 

Kobelco excavator using the Leica iCON excavator solution and tilting the bucket to do an as-built log.

3. The hardware is specifically designed for compact excavators.

In addition to meeting a justifiable price point for smaller machines, the solution’s engineers have ruthlessly streamlined its hardware. The Leica iCON gps 100 dual GNSS machine receiver is compact and its installation requires minimal parts and cables, which is perfect for machines with limited cabin space. The Leica CR50 communication unit comes as optional, allowing customers to invest only in what they really need – with the possibility to easily upgrade and adjust to different site and project conditions. The Leica CR50 is ideal when using a local base station network with poor on-site coverage, which makes it difficult for crews to communicate without an external GSM antenna or UFH radio. Once the equipment has been installed, users no longer require physical access to the hardware for set up, configuration or software updates. The web interface allows remote access to the device for convenient and fast support. Despite the fact that the new hardware its compact and scalable, they use the latest technology, which enables them to use the tablet’s built-in modem. Additionally. services such as SmartLink Fill are available for the best customer experience and less disturbances in case of RTK outages. 

Leica iCON gps 100 and CR50

4. Compact excavators can enter the digital game of connected construction sites.

The iCON site excavator enables compact excavators to work with the same digital designs and impressive accuracy as the big machines. This ensures consistent standards of work and faster completion times on large projects because every machine on the construction site can work from the same plan. Any project and design updates can be now shared with all machines - independent of size - making sure every operator is informed and working based on the latest project data. 

5. The Leica iCON site excavator solution easily integrates to other Leica Geosystems solutions.

Leica’s iCON site excavator is available as a standalone application or as an add-on to the existing and well-established iCON site software with loads of practical applications for heavy construction jobs. Existing customers will benefit from another tool that will increase equipment utilisation and achieve a quicker ROI. This is particularly applicable to construction companies already executing measurement and positioning tasks using Leica iCON site software and iCON Smart Antennas. Another example of a solution that can be used is the Leica ConX cloud platform. Leica ConX is a particularly powerful when it comes to progress reporting as it can transfer crucial information from multiple systems back to the office for administrative use. Additionally, ConX allows remote support to operators when they need help to troubleshoot or simply have a questions about the system set up. 

Summary: a versatile and connected solution for increased efficiency.

Leica’s iCON site excavator opens up new possibilities to heavy construction companies that deploy compact excavators. The solution  is a simple, easy-to-use machine-control solution for optimising the earthmoving jobs of compact excavators. It integrates easily to the existing iCON site applications, so you can benefit from new workflows that combine measuring, stakeout, excavating, and reporting in one easy package - with a quick ROI. And maybe the best news for customers that own compact excavators and iCON equipment such as field controller, software and Smart Antennas! 




Contact us about Machine Control

Get in contact with us for more information about our machine control solutions.
Get in contact with us for more information about our machine control solutions.

How-to videos from LMC Academy

Understanding Leica Geosystems machine control solutions - how to get started and become more effective using them.
Understanding Leica Geosystems machine control solutions - how to get started and become more effective using them.

Leica iCON Content Hub

Everything in one place - central content and video hub for Leica iCON related case studies, expert insights, videos, blog posts and more.
Everything in one place - central content and video hub for Leica iCON related case studies, expert insights, videos, blog posts and more.