Improving infrastructure with automated machine control
Author: Karina Lumholt
The Swedish municipality of Värmdö, located about 25 kilometres Northeast of Stockholm, is a very attractive residential area close to the archipelago and only 20 minutes away from the capital. The municipality hosts a large number of summer houses that are currently being converted into permanent residences and demand a higher supply of drinking water, sewage, broadband and better roads.
Värmdö municipality assigned Frentab AB as the contracting construction company for the work at Skerviksstrand, the project is to be completed by the end of 2018. Frentab AB is a 30-year-old family-owned construction company specialised in building and infrastructure, including projects in residential areas like Skeviksstrand where the work must be performed respecting nature and the people living in the area. This is a representative project where machine control is put extensively to use.
The link between the office and the machines
Jonas Isaksson works as volume manager at the office in Gustavsberg, Sweden. He is using Leica ConX to track machines, manage 15 excavators working on the project, and to assign reference models and localisation files to the machines. Isaksson also uses ConX to collect as-built documentation from the machines to communicate remotely with the machine operators.
Using the iXE CoPilot function for the final grade
Machine operator Bertil Jakobsson has been working on the site for 15 months digging trenches down to approximately 60 centimetres for water and waste water pipes, electrical cables and broadband. As it is very common for machine operators, Bertil has a nickname; “Berra” – it is even printed on the cabin of his Volvo EC250EL excavator.
Jakobsson uses the Leica iCON iXE3 3D excavator machine control solution all the time. “Without machine control, I would be working as if I were blind,” Jakobsson explains. “I am no longer dependent on a surveyor to get my job done. I used to spend a lot of time waiting for a surveyor to come to the job site, now I can do everything myself.”
Jakobsson is one of the first machine operators in the world to work with the Leica iXE3 CoPilot. The world’s first automated tilt rotator solution automates the tilt function on excavators equipped with a bucket with tilt rotator. This system simplifies the operation of the tilt rotator, so operators like Berra become less fatigued and achieve the correct target slope.
“I have worked on a large project in Tollare with grading of large plane surfaces. In this case, the iXE3 CoPilot was a great help for me because I didn’t get tired and got the correct grade faster. On a project like this, in Värmdö, I use the iXE3 CoPilot function to create the final layer before the grader comes. The advantage is that I don’t have to look at the panel all the time. I just hold the automation button on the joystick – that makes my work simpler and faster,” says Jakobsson.
Use of 2D machine control when nature comes in the way
One of the challenges when working in an area with several buildings and tall trees is that the GNSS signals can be lost, making it momentarily impossible to use the 3D machine control solution. When the GNSS coverage is lost, Jakobsson changes to the 2D mode on the panel and a surveyor has to set up the reference points. “The problem today is that often there is no backup plan for situations like these, because we no longer have surveyors that are standing ready to go out for the more traditional surveying tasks, so I have to wait,” explains Jakobsson.
Alternatively, Jakobsson can move the excavator to a place with better GNSS coverage and use the excavator to set a reference point and work even in the dead spots.
“The versatility of the machine control solution and the possibility of switching between 3D and 2D mode is a great advantage for us when working on projects like this,” concludes Jakobsson.