3D or nothing
Author: Daniel Milam, Power Curbers
3D or stringless control systems for concrete slipforming equipment are becoming more popular by the season. Labor shortages, competitive bidding, and scheduling flexibility are some of the most common reasons companies choose to go stringless.
Elliot Jones, president at W. Gardner, LLC and managing partner of 3D Concrete Solutions, has a different perspective, “I looked at it as training wheels. It kind of keeps us in the rails. I feel a lot better with having this control.”
An opportunity arose in the Jacksonville, Florida construction market, and Jones took advantage by establishing a concrete company, 3D Concrete Solutions. His earthwork company, W. Gardner, LLC had difficulty with local concrete contractors running out of time, which revealed a gap in the market.
Diverging from his earthmoving business was a big move for Jones since he had no prior hand forming or slipforming experience. From the beginning, Jones wanted the concrete company to be different by being the first in the region running a stringless slipform machine.
A new level of responsiveness, simplicity and precision
Jones worked with machine control on earthmoving equipment for the past ten years and had seen operators successfully trained on dozers or motor graders using 3D systems. He was confident that a slipform operator could be trained similarly and felt good about plunging into stringless slipforming, describing it as a “no-brainer”.
Jones and Rusty Grimes, vice president of project management at W. Gardner, LLC, visited the Power Curbers manufacturing facility to learn more about the slipform machines. Jones revealed, “that visit to Power Curbers in Salisbury sealed the deal”. Grimes agreed, “I would highly recommend that anybody interested in even looking to purchase a slipform machine take a tour of Power Curbers’ plant because that was impressive.”
To complement their new 5700-D concrete slipform machine, the team at 3D Concrete Solutions, selected the Leica iCON machine control system for 3D concrete paving because of the precision it delivers on W. Gardner, LLC’s owned earthmoving equipment.
Avoid stringlines with 3D machine control solution for curb and gutter jobs
One of the primary reasons Jones insisted upon starting with 3D controls was avoiding stringline limitations. He stated, “you are saving at least a day on a small job, a half-day to set up and a half-day to break down or anywhere from 2 days or more for a larger job. You only have so many linear feet of pins, and you have to leapfrog them. That is your bottleneck.”
However, with stringless controls, Jones pointed out, “your bottleneck isn’t how many pins, it becomes, control is here, total stations are here, we can keep leapfrogging those bad boys until the concrete plant shuts us down. There are no limits now.”
Grimes enforced, “it saves costs with the survey and guys putting out stringline and pins. We can roll in there, localize everything in an hour or two, and we are off and running. We’ve done as much as 4,000 linear feet or more, and that’s only because we ran out of mud.” Not only is the Leica 3D machine control system for concrete paving seeing time and money savings, but their quality is outstanding. They’ve verified vertical tolerances as small as 0.02.
Easy to use and easy to adopt 3D machine control solution to your curb machine
Jones reported that “it’s better than stringline. The stringline gets manipulated by people on the job site. There is room for human error. If you follow the model, it is perfectly to the engineer’s plan.”
After getting settled in with the machine, Jones expressed that the 5700-D concrete slipform machine with machine control solution from Leica Geosystem has “been good, we love it. The guys in the field love it. It works great.” Grimes observed that their slipform crew “adapted to stringless controls really well, they jumped right in and have embraced it.”