Tag Archive for 'GPS machine control'

Utah Landfill Shuffles, Gains Space

GPS rover and level/slope measuring system help relocate garbage to gain 2.3 million yards of landfill space

By Jeff Winke

Ask the average person on the street where garbage goes after the garbage truck picks it up and takes it away, and most will likely say, “the dump.” At one time, most communities had a town dump located near the edge of town or just outside. That was where town-folk could toss out anything.

One can imagine Andy and Opie hauling an old chair that Aunt Bee wanted out of the house to the Mayberry town dump. Fortunately, in 1976, eight years after the last episode of The Andy Griffith Show aired, the United States government passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This law put new rules into effect to protect water supplies and control how trash was thrown away. As a result, many dumps were closed or changed to follow the new rules.

There never was an episode showing toxic waste absentmindedly tossed into the Mayberry dump seeping into the ground and causing problems to underground water, streams, rivers, and the local “fishin’ hole.”

Today dumps are illegal, and trash is taken to a landfill. Modern-day landfills are sophisticated operations and are designed to receive garbage and keep the environment safe. A landfill has a liner system at the bottom to catch toxic waste that could pollute groundwater Trash is piled and smashed down to “fill” the landfill space.

Well before the federal law was passed, three forward-thinking cities near Salt Lake City, Utah came together in 1959 and decided to convert a popular dumping spot into a landfill. Slowly other local cities bought

into the project. Currently, the Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill is now owned and governed by seven cities with several other non-owning cities also bringing their Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to the site. The once Mayberry-style community dump is now a technologically advanced, sophisticated landfill serving approximately 500,000 residents, as well as accommodating the commercial waste from the same south half of Salt Lake Valley region.

The Class 1, Subtitle D landfill is managed by Trans-Jordan, South Jordan, Utah. At the site, Trans-Jordan digs down a hundred feet from ground level and fills it up to a point higher than original ground level.

“Our company started with seven full-time employees and has grown to a staff of 39, plus five temps,” stated Jason Turville, operations supervisor at Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill.  “We take in 365,000 tons of MSW a year at the Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill with steady growth as the communities continue to build out and the demand increases.”

Since its start, the company has made conscious, concerted efforts to be a positive corporate neighbor. They offer an active Green Waste program where they accept, grind and mulch trees, brush and associated organic materials, which are converted into compost and chips that is sold to the public at a reasonable price. The compost is a high-quality product that meets the USCC (US Composting Council) certification for compost.

There is also a public convenience center (PCC) for residents to drop their trash on a hard, concrete surface with recycling of many materials including metal, carpet pad, Freon containing appliances, electronics, and second-hand store donations. Another service offered is a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection and processing facility–free to residents and fee-based for small businesses.

The Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill currently accepts 365,000 tons a year of MSW from the 7 member cities which are West Jordan, Sandy, Draper, Riverton, South Jordan City, Murray and Midvale, as well as local commercial contributions.

“The best way to describe our company is ‘we manage airspace,'” Turville said. “Our job is put as much MSW into as little airspace as possible to maximize the life of the landfill space we have available.”

That goal of maximizing space was behind a recent Trans-Jordan project. The landfill has six cells. The company determined that they could gain significant space by relocating 500,000 cubic yards of MSW from a corner of an old cell to the new active cell. The move would literally gain 2.3 million yards of future landfilling space.

“Our current lowest elevation for our operation in Cell 6a has us at an elevation 50 feet lower than the bottom of the old trash placed in the corner,” Turville said. ‘Therefore, by moving it into the active area of the landfill, we gain the 50 feet of depth directly underneath and also from where the natural earthen slope will be removed to maximize the depth and space of the area.”

For the Old Cell 6 Trash Relocation Project, Trans-Jordan used a Cat 349F excavator and two Cat 740B haul trucks. Digging a new cell with an excavator is common practice, but digging trash out of an existing cell is not. The trash had been sitting there for 20-plus years and was very compacted. Trans-Jordan claimed that it actually was harder to pull out than dirt.

Trans-Jordan does not employ GPS machine control on any of its machines; however, they do use a handheld Trimble TSC3 GPS controller for establishing design grades and top of waste (TOW) grades. The Trimble rover is used for site measurement, stakeout, and grade checking operations. The controller, which is paired up with a Trimble R10 LT Receiver uses Utah’s VRS wireless network. In conjunction, all machines use JohnnyBall 3D onboard measuring systems, which is designed to provide operators with real-time level and slope.

“We manually put out stakes to follow, then use JohnnyBall as a tool to accurately maintain a level working area and establish a 4:1 working face on a daily basis,” Turville said. “Our MSW side slopes are 3:1 and with us having many new operators it is a great tool to teach them and show them the exact slope required for the operation.”

Base cups for JohnnyBall have been mounted in seven Trans-Jordan machines–dozers, compactors, an excavator, and a motorgrader–which enables the four JohnnyBalls they currently own to be moved seamlessly from machine to machine as needed.

“The GPS rover gives us the ability to take the site design created in our office and implement it in the field,” Turville said. “JohnnyBall helps our operators to efficiently and accurately build slopes where staking is not reasonable or appropriate–and it keeps the machine operator accountable to me and the other managers. The GPS rover used with JohnnyBall is a powerful combination that has become essential to our success.”

The Old Cell 6 Trash Relocation Project was completed in two phases. The company cut half of the old MSW and relocated it from August 2014 through Sept 2015. Phase 2–the other half–started up in May 2017 and finished October 2018.

The project occurred while continuing to take in 365,000 tons a year of MSW from the seven member cities and commercial traffic. The MSW that was moved was added into the daily processing amount.

For processing the trash daily, Trans-Jordan employs two Cat 836K landfill compactors equipped with JohnnyBall 3D onboard measuring systems to maintain a level top, 3:1 side slope, and a 4:1 working face. The company operates a Cat D5 dozer equipped with a JohnnyBall for dressing-up side slopes and working on finish slopes for liner placement.

“JohnnyBall has become a necessary tool to ensure we maintain 3:1, 2.5:1, and 2:1 slopes in the various locations,” stated Turville. “It is simple, easy to use, and provides real time feedback to the operator, which means a lot to us especially since two-thirds of the crew are green and learning how to achieve the grades we need, while working on their own.”

With the Old Cell 6 Trash Relocation Project completed, Turville reflected: “For years we will be talking and reminiscing about moving ‘old Cell 6,’ how this project helped extend the life of the landfill, and how interesting it was to ‘mine’ old trash and see what did and did not decompose over the 20 years it was sitting. A worthwhile and interesting project, for sure.”

Topcon Technology Roadshow Hits Northern Illinois

As part of a 24-stop North American tour, the Topcon Technology Roadshow visited Wilmington, Ill., located just south of Joliet—approximately 55 miles from Chicago. The two-day visit—June 25th and 26th—was held on the grounds of the IUOE Local 150 Union Training Center and was hosted by Positioning Solutions Company, Carol Stream, Ill., an authorized Topcon dealer.

6L4A2525ext copy 2“It was an awesome opportunity for construction and survey customers to see everything in one spot,” said Ed McCaffery, marketing director with Positioning Solutions Company. “From my observations and interactions, it was clear to me that contractors were surprised by the breath of the offering, enjoyed the hands-on exhibits both in the trailer and on the grounds, and they were intrigued with some of the new technologies that were demonstrated.”

Outdoor-Presentation-Areas_Overview copyThe Technology Roadshow displays and demonstrations covered the full range of machine automation, Topcon Enterprise Solutions, BIM and 3D layout, Sitelink3D site management, GNSS and robotics, and scanning and mapping. Contractors were able to maximize their time by scheduling their visit at a convenient time and choosing which displays or demos were of interest.

Justin Smith, survey/machine control manager with K-Five Construction Corporation, Lemont, Ill., liked the opportunity to see engineers and product reps that he’s worked with. “I was able to talk directly with them and get answers to my questions and learn better ways to take advantage of the technology I have.”

Interior Presentation Areas-Overview copyThe 53-foot mobile solutions center truck showcases the latest technology for the construction, survey, civil engineering, architecture, and design industries. The information provided is designed to help contractors learn:

  • The latest tools and technologies available for the job site and office.
  • The impact of field computer technology on project data and administration.
  • The latest software technologies and the ability to improve business productivity.
  • Total job site solutions to fit any size business.

6L4A2622int copy 2“My area of knowledge and expertise is in machine control, so it was nice to have the opportunity to learn the intricacies of survey systems,” stated Dan Breunig, mechanical supervisor with The Lane Construction Corporation, Shorewood, Ill. “The Technology Roadshow was beneficial to me because I had access to Topcon experts and was able to meet other contractors.”

6L4A3154 copy 2During the two-day stop, there were contractors from Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

“All in attendance were decision-makers and key personnel with keen interest in getting as much as they could out of their time there,” McCaffery stated. “Everything is geared toward helping the contractor understand the state of our ever-changing industry and what technologies they should consider adopting to stay competitive. After all, that’s what it’s all about!”

The Total Package

Well-established proponents of GPS technology, Gehring Construction & Ready Mix recently chose to extend that push to its grade trimming and concrete paving operations with the addition of Millimeter GPS from Topcon Positioning Systems.

Nebraska contractor rounds out full-GPS function with stringless trimming and paving capability

by Larry Trojak

The hallmark of any successful company is its ability to continually strive for improvement. How important is ongoing improvement to a company in today’s challenging business environment?  So much so, that an entire cottage industry committed to just such a goal, has developed around it. Maintaining the status quo, whether it is in methodology, materials used, or technology employed, is generally a recipe for stagnation and an invitation to being overtaken by more-driven competitors. Gehring Construction & Ready Mix learned these lessons long ago and has been active in putting them into practice. Well-established proponents of GPS technology, the company recently chose to extend that push to its grade trimming and concrete paving operations with the addition of Millimeter GPS from Topcon Positioning Systems.  The result of that move has been a measurable increase in efficiency, and the knowledge that when it comes to regional paving companies, they will continue to lead the pack rather than follow the herd.

While the use of stakes and stringline has been the method of choice for pavers since the advent of large-scale slip-form paving machines, the technique is not without its shortcomings.

Looking for a Change
Located in Columbus, NE, about 50 miles west of Omaha, Gehring Construction & Ready Mix is a third generation company which has been serving customers throughout the area for more than 60 years. About four years ago, looking to improve onsite efficiencies, the company added GPS to its operation, then followed that up with machine control in one of its dozers and motor graders. According to Kevin Gehring, paving superintendent and grandson of the company’s founder, the switch to GPS made perfect sense for them.

“We got into GPS because we knew it was a far more accurate and efficient way to do dirt work, allowing us to get the dirt within a tenth of an inch.  That meant that when the time came to trim, we wouldn’t have the usual low spots and high spots, thereby speeding up the grade trimming process considerably. Using survey stakes or blue tops requires both skilled operators and a grade checker, and it is still not as accurate. Add in the fact that the stakes always seem to get run over, prompting a lot of restaking or guesswork on the part of the operator and you can see why we made the move.”

Working through the LaVista, Nebraska office of DK&B Construction Specialties, the local Topcon dealer, Gehring first purchased a HiPer Lite base and rover. He says that move alone showed them the things that could be done faster and better. “But, more importantly, it also opened the door for us to add machine control to the operation, a direction we knew we needed to take in order to be competitive, both onsite and in the bidding process.”

Gehring did, in fact, add two machine control systems to its operation shortly after that initial purchase: Topcon’s 3D-MC2 on a

Installation of components on the GOMACO 9500 Trimmer and the GHP2800 Paver included a pair of Topcon PZS-MC Positioning Zone laser receivers, a GX-60 control box, and the “brains” behind the mmGPS operation, Topcon's MC-R3 receiver.

John Deere 700J dozer and 3D-MC on a Deere 772CH motor grader. “Once we were comfortable with those systems, we started looking onto ways to improve on the traditional approaches to paving: the use of stringline and stakes.  That took us back to DK&B and a look at mmGPS.”

Crossing the Line
While the use of stakes and stringline has been the method of choice for pavers since the advent of large-scale slip-form paving machines, the technique is not without its shortcomings.  Gehring says that, in addition to the headache of initially setting and verifying the stringline itself, other issues have plagued them for years.

“Much of the problem starts after the stringline is already up,” he says. “With it in place, gaining access to the road—necessary for getting in concrete, dirt or crushed concrete base—is tough. In the past, we‘d have no choice but to lower the stringline to allow access. That increased the time it took contractors to move in and move out, often impacting the length of the project. And if you are dealing with a situation in which you have lane closures or a traffic detour, the last thing you want is any kind of delay. We’d heard about stringless paving and knew we had some of the technology under our belt already, so we went to Todd Bachtell at DK&B to see about taking that next step.”

Bachtell agreed that Gehring’s company was an ideal candidate for mmGPS, citing an advantage that seasoned GPS users have when migrating to a related technology.

“This was also a first for us,” he says.  “Prior to Gehring, we hadn’t sold mmGPS to anyone in paving, but we definitely knew it was a good fit for that application.  The fact that they’d been using GPS for a number of years prior to that—both as a standalone instrument and in conjunction with their machine control—and had a good understanding of 3D modeling programs was a real plus. There couldn’t have been a better choice for that technology, so we started coordinating things between Topcon and GOMACO to make it happen.”

Sharing the Wealth
With plans and equipment in place, Bachtell, along with Brian Lingobardo, Topcon’s product manager for 3D machine control

Gehring believes their company is the only one in the Cornhusker State utilizing GPS in a paving operation.

hardware/software, and Matt Morrison, GOMACO’s manager for its 3D Machine Controls Group, met at Gehring’s Columbus location. Over the next two days, the group handled installation of the components needed on both GOMACO products: the 9500 Trimmer and GHP2800 Paver.  Those included a pair of Topcon PZS-MC Positioning Zone laser receivers, a GX-60 control box, and the “brains” behind the mmGPS operation, Topcon’s MC-R3 receiver.

“In addition to the speed and accuracy we were gaining, another real advantage of going with Topcon mmGPS was the fact that both the trimmer and the paver essentially share one single system,” says Gehring.  “Once both machines are set up with necessary brackets, cables and so on, we can use the system on the trimmer, trim the subgrade to tolerances within 1/100 of a foot, and then move it over to the paver. There, after about a five minute switchover, we can work off the same 3D model, set the offset to reflect the

Gehring recently completed a project that involved doing dirt work and paving for a two-lane full-width, 1½ mile section of highway right in Columbus. On that project, Gehring says they saw just how impactful going stringless could be.

thickness of the pavement, and get equally impressive results on the paving. It’s really been working out well for us.”

Highway Bound
Most companies (understandably) boast of the years of experience their operators bring to the jobsite, and Gehring Construction is no exception.  However, Kevin Gehring says the relatively young age of some of his operators actually worked to their benefit when making the switch to GPS-based technology.

“The Topcon systems are extremely user-friendly, so there was not much of a learning curve to start with,” he says. “But the younger guys on our crew were more receptive to the change right from the outset and really caught on quickly to the technology.  We’ve also had outstanding support from DK&B, Topcon and GOMACO which helped us through any initial rough spots. But we paved a small subdivision immediately after the installation, and then a week later moved on to a highway job.”

The project to which Gehring refers involved doing dirt work and paving for a two-lane full-width, 1½ mile section of highway right in Columbus.  On that project, Gehring says they saw just how impactful going stringless could be.

“We were on that job for about three months and having mmGPS probably helped us knock a couple weeks off the overall project length,” he says. “Although the actual trimming and paving time doesn’t really change, there is a savings in not having to go back and correct for high or low spots. However, the real time savings for us came from not having to stake the job or put up stringline; that was huge. And, the fact that all of our Topcon-equipped machines—from those doing site work to those in paving—are working off the same base and the same surface model also improves efficiency and lowers paving costs for us.”

Converts to mmGPS
At this point in time, Gehring believes that their company is the only one in the Cornhusker State utilizing GPS in a paving operation. That fact alone, he says, offers them something of an advantage over the competition that is still “tied up” so to speak with stringline.

“What I find really interesting is the reaction we get from engineers and inspectors on the jobs we’ve done so far with the mmGPS. Because stringline is all they’ve ever seen, they are very concerned about what kind of product we will make without a stringline.  But the technology is so accurate and so impressive, they always come away believers.”

This article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Midwest Contractor