Machine control makes the life of machine operators easier

Case study

Author: Per Norell

Taxus AB is one of the Swedish companies that use the new Leica MCP80 machine control panel, together with new Leica MC1 one-for-all software platform. Excavator operators at Taxus all agree on the advantages of the new digital solution along with the satellite positioning service of HxGN SmartNet and the easy access to support and experts through the Customer Care Package programme.

Taxus works purely with rental services, and they don’t engage directly in construction projects but focus on supporting their customers with rental solutions. The company offers everything from surveying, carpenters and excavators to transport solutions and crane trucks. Taxus is located in Stenungsund, north of Gothenberg in Sweden and employs approximately 40 people. Today, there are nine MCP80 panels in the company’s machine fleet, and two of these are used with MC1, and Taxus plans to upgrade the entire fleet with the one-for-all MC1 solution.

The software platform MC1 offers a common interface for all Leica Geosystems machine control solutions, creating a seamless connection between machines, field and office crews on the construction site. Users of MC1 can benefit from the Automatic Tool Recognition, which automatically detects the tool that the excavator uses. The function minimises the risk of using the wrong bucket, which prevents over digging and increases the efficiency and productivity considerably for the machine operator.

Better overview of the project and less unnecessary driving

Jonathan Lennartsson works with the MCP80 panel and MC1 software on his new Volvo EUR150 wheeled excavator.

Jonathan Lennartson is one of Taxus’ excavator operators. He has worked as an excavator operator since he left school four years ago.

Jonathan had the new MCP80 panel with the MC1 software on his new Volvo EUR150 wheeled excavator that was delivered in the autumn of 2019.

“One of the main advantages with MC1 compared to the old software is that now I can see the entire model on the panel. I am no longer locked to the position that I have,” explains Lennartson. “It means that I no longer have to drive around on the site to see the stakeout. I can just swipe with my fingers on the panel, which results in less driving. It makes me more efficient.”

More confident about the result

Lennartson’s colleague, Tony Roos, has worked in the business for a considerably longer time. He has been an excavator operator since 2003 when Lennartson was just five years old. Roos has been part of the extensive technological development in machine control and has a lot of experience to compare digital solutions with traditional methods. Roos agrees with Lennartson that the new MC1 supports his workflow.

“I have a better overview with MC1. Before, I could only see the area around the bucket on my panel, but now I have a quick overview of the entire project. It gives me a sense of security that I do it right, I don’t rely on anybody else, and I don’t need a surveyor standing outside the machine,” says Roos. “MC1 also helps me perform the work faster. I am more efficient, and I can plan the work with the truck drivers better to have the materials in the right place. It gives me more accuracy in my work.

Safe tool change

Automatic Tool Recognition in the MC1 software and ensures that Tony Roos always uses the right bucket.

Another function that Roos finds practical to use is the Autosnap function as well as the Automatic Tool Recognition that makes it easy to change tool directly in the run screen.

With Autosnap, I can easily find and snap to the object that I need to work on directly on the screen,” explains Roos. “When I change bucket or tool, which I do many times during the day, it helps me to have access to the buckets directly on the panel. I don’t need to go into the menu system as I did before, and I know that it is always the right bucket that I use.”

Better screen visibility in bright sunlight

Leica Geosystems’ machine control solution is an inevitable component in the daily work of Taxus’ machine operators.

MCP80 with MC1 is used all the time, and it is an important tool,” says Lennartson.

The new panel and software have even led to a better working environment for the operator as the solution is easier to see in bright sunlight.

“The background colour used to be black, and the visibility was sometimes limited when the sun was in certain positions. Now the background colour can be set to light, and that makes a big difference,” explains Lennartson.

When the workday is over, Lennartson takes out the MCP80 panel so that it doesn’t stay in the excavator overnight for theft prevention reasons.

“The panel is robust, and it has no antennas sticking out, so you don’t have to be afraid of breaking anything,” explains Jonathan.

Remote support makes troubleshooting easier

Taxus has decided to subscribe to Leica Geosystems’ Customer Care Packages (CCP) which let them benefit from customer support by telephone, online remote support, software updates, yearly service checks and extended warranty.

Whenever Lennartson needs help with the equipment, he calls the support department at Leica Geosystems and receives assistance via phone. If necessary, a technician can get remote access to the MCP80 panel and read error codes or even take remote control of the panel.

“Whenever something happens, and I need help, I need it quickly. It is a pleasure that I can call the support department or get help through remote support. Most problems can be solved over the phone, but it has occasionally happened that a service technician has helped me by taking control over the panel remotely,” explains Lennartson. “This is a far better solution than waiting for a technician to drive out to me on site. I don’t have to stand still with the machine, so I can get more done, and just knowing that I can get support quickly gives me a sense of security.”

HxGN SmartNet and Leica ConX

Taxus benefits from many connected products and services from Leica Geosystems, including SmartNet and Leica ConX.

Lennartsson is interested in automation technology and enjoys learning new things. He uses Leica Geosystems’ satellite positioning service HxGn SmartNet and has some knowledge of the cloud-based collaboration platform, ConX.

“I use SmartNet all the time. The main advantage compared to a traditional total station is that I always know my position exactly, and I have all positioning with me when I am driving around. I don’t have to worry that something is blocking the signal, like for example a container,” explains Lennartsson. “I have not yet used ConX, but I know that it is a handy solution. The surveyor can send the file directly from the computer, and the user can synchronise the file directly. The significant advantage is that I don’t have to wait for the surveyor to come out to the machine, and I don’t need to use a USB stick. It is also safer than the traditional workflow as I don’t need people physically around the machine also when we work in harsh environments.

Aftermarket and support

Eje Andersson knows that fast support is vital in the Heavy Construction industry.

Taxus has used machine control for a long time. The first equipment was purchased back in 2005 under the trademark Scanlaser. Eje Andersson is involved in Taxus’ daily work like a spider in the web and explains how important remote support and the relationship with Leica Geosystem is.

“It is important for us that we get full response to the aftermarket questions, and that the support is easily available and knowledgeable. Our machine operators can contact support directly themselves, and sometimes I do it when we have major questions. It is very convenient for us that the operators have the direct contact to the support so that they get the right help at the right time, and Leica Geosystems has top knowledge about their products,” explains Andersson.

“The cooperation has worked very well during the years. Leica Geosystems is a safe partner for us. It is an advantage that they are well established with the surveyors in our region of west Sweden. It gives a common ground of understanding when everybody knows the same technology,” says Andersson.

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