Tag Archive for 'Topcon Positioning Systems'

Work Hard and the Money Follows

DeNucci Constructors LLC Meets the Challenges of Rapid Growth

By Richard Rybka

Take care of your biggest asset – your employees and customers.”

This statement by Paul DeNucci demonstrates his understanding that empathy is critically important to success in contracting. He has followed this mantra for the past 28 years. Equally important to his business philosophy are the words that has kept his company solvent and prosperous: “Work hard and the money follows.”

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Since 1992, DeNucci has taken his company from a start-up to a highly competitive, multi-functional construction company in a tough market. It took more than a sound business philosophy to move through the ever-changing landscape of construction. Learning the company’s history and transitions will reveal the motivating factors that made his business a true success story.

Starting Out With Chains and Hubs

In 1992, DeNucci founded his company in Austin, Texas. That was back in the day when “technology” was a non-existent term in the construction business. For a site work contractor, that meant slow and tedious tasks for layout, grade staking, blue tops, and as-builts. A tripod-mounted construction level and a grade rod were the most innovative tools available for construction survey work.

Today, DeNucci Constructors LLC is a major player in the Austin construction industry. His company is licensed both as a commercial general building contractor and as a utilities construction company, providing services to public government entities and private customers. DeNucci’s typical mix of construction contracts includes residential subdivisions, assisted living facilities, sanitary and storm sewer systems, urban street improvements, and recreational parks. 

Rapid Growth Spurs Change

As of April 2019, Austin, Texas, is the fastest growing major metropolitan area in the United States. This growth spurt extends well beyond the city center area into five surrounding counties.

A contractor operating in this economic environment faces two challenges – increased competition and pricing pressure. DeNucci was determined to continue the growth of his company in this fast-changing market. Not quite sure of how the future of his company would unfold, he maintained an open mind and an expansive perspective.

“We were always looking for technology and other innovation to help give us an edge and increase production,” DeNucci said. Willingness to explore new options was and continues to be what keeps his company moving into the future. It also gave him the advantage he needed to stay ahead of the competition. 

Expediting the Transition to Technology

Coming from the old school way of doing things, DeNucci admits that he was a “hard sell” when it came to adopting GPS technology. 

He tried integrating GPS into his workflows, but was not having much luck with the first system he purchased. Looking for a better solution, he met John Favret in June 2015. Favret is Senior Machine Control Sales Specialist, based at GeoShack’s store in Austin.

The Austin location is one of 21 stores in eight U.S. states and has the resources to provide a total solution to its customers – the most advance technology products, highly competent sales consultants, and unlimited support.

Favret demoed Topcon’s HiPer V base and rover system to DeNucci, his son, Ryan, and General Superintendent Josh Walenta. With Pocket 3D software on the field controller, it is a perfect solution for layout, grade staking, and collecting as-built information. Quickly seeing how Topcon’s GPS system out-performed his existing system, he made the switch. He noticed a huge improvement in managing his subdivision projects. 

Within a few months, DeNucci became eager to explore machine control systems. He asked Favret to install a Topcon 3D-MC2 on a Caterpillar D8 Dozer. Shortly thereafter, another system was installed on a Caterpillar 140 M3 Motor Grader. 

DeNucci purchased his first Topcon 3D-MCMAX dozer system in August 2017. That was just the beginning. Today, the company owns three 3D-MCMAX-equipped dozers, one 3D-MC2 dozer, two 3D-MC motor graders, and two sets of Hiper V base and rover systems. 

A Typical DeNucci Project

Santa Rita Ranch, a premier master-planned community, is located in Williamson County, Texas. Upon completion of total build-out, the project will include approximately 6,500 homes located in nine distinct villages and more than 200 acres of commercial and multifamily development.

The site work, grading, and excavation required for the project includes construction of numerous water quality ponds, drainage structures, water and wastewater systems, lift stations, curb and gutter, HMAC paving, dry utilities, sidewalks, signage, and other amenities.

DeNucci explained how this complex project showcases the use of Topcon GPS systems for every phase of the massive development:

“Our Topcon equipment has allowed us to localize and seamlessly move from section to section within the subdivision, locate erosion controls and other items of work with our rovers, complete our rough cutting and lot grading operations with our 950 and D10 dozers with machine control followed by our motor graders with their machine control to complete the road base operations and final grading before the final HMAC installation.”

A Word from the Man in the Field

Josh Walenta has been with DeNucci for 13 years and experienced first-hand the growth and changes that have taken place. Walenta is the man who oversees the day-to-day field operations.

Before the company started using machine control systems, they depended on surveyors to set grade stakes and blue tops. Earthmoving and grade work depended on the schedules of others. Equipment and operators were often delayed from making progress on a job while they waited for layout information.

Walenta says the most significant advantages to machine control systems are speed and cost savings. “No waiting on anybody, no scheduling,” he explained. Once others set control points, there is no need for outside consultants.

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Field checking, when necessary, is done with a Topcon HiPer V rover and Pocket 3D software. “Most of the time if there’s a question or problem you can check in on something with an existing elevation, like a manhole or an inlet, and figure out what’s going on – instead of waiting on someone or building it and having to come back and fix it later,” Walenta remarked.

When a Dealer Becomes Part of the Team

All the technology in the world cannot achieve its full potential without knowledgeable support from the supplier. It’s not just about selling a product and answering support phone calls. It’s about seamless integration of technology with the user.

John Favret received the highest compliment that a sales consultant can expect to receive from a customer. “John is an invaluable part of our team and his service after the sell is unmatched in our industry”, said DeNucci. 

GeoShack, Topcon, and Favret give DeNucci the advantage he needs to not just stay competitive, but to thrive in one of the toughest markets. It also gives DeNucci confidence in an ally that can help him control his company’s destiny. 

DeNucci claims an optimistic future for his company: “We look forward to continuing to grow with the Topcon products and utilize the ever-changing technology as they continue to innovate.”

For more information about GeoShack, Topcon GPS products, and Topcon machine control systems, go twww.geoshack.com

This feature appeared in the March 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Contractor Meets Challenges

Cozy country-style residential subdivision in Saskatchewan

By Jeff Winke

            Many are attracted to the yin and yang lifestyle of having a cozy country home with easy access to the excitement of a vibrant city. That sense that seemingly opposite or contrary forces can actually harmonize in a way that provides a richer life is very appealing to a good number.

            A Canadian residential subdivision seems to capture that spirit perfectly. Nestled in rolling prairie and among tranquil ponds, the Grasswood Estates development is located in Corman Park, Saskatchewan, a suburb of Saskatoon, the largest city in the province. The subdivision is located in the country literally 10 minutes away from downtown Saskatoon. 

            The 150-acre residential subdivision was created two years ago on vacant farmland with 42 of the planned 180 homes being constructed almost immediately. A scenic winding 10-kilometer (6-mile) road connects the properties and provides ingress and egress to the subdivision. Additional homes are continuing to be built from the initial surge.

            Investor Darren Hagen is the owner / developer of the $2.8 million-Canadian Grasswood Estates project. The subdivision is part of the expansion of city of Saskatoon geographically as the metro-population increases. Residents have quiet living with easy access to the diversity and activity of the city.

            For the first two years, the home owners living in the new subdivision have been driving on temporary and in some cases rutted roads that wound through the subdivision leading to their houses. 

            In June 2018, Hagen brought in Warman Excavating & Trenching Ltd. Waldheim, Sask., to build a permanent, paved road where the temporary road is located. Started in 1993, Warman Excavating offers the Saskatchewan market road building, site prep, trenching, and water/sewer services with principal concentration in the Saskatoon and Prince Albert areas. The company has 45 employees during peak season; 20 employees all year long. A recently acquired asphalt paving company makes them now a solidly medium-size contractor.

            “Initially, our biggest challenge on the project was winning the confidence and cooperation of the homeowners who had been patiently waiting for their approximately 10-kilometer (6-mile) road to be paved,” stated Jean Poirier, project manager with Warman Excavating & Trenching Ltd. “We went out of our way to assure the residents that we’ll do what we can to accommodate their needs while working hard to complete the road quickly.

            “For the first two weeks of the project we used layout stakes, which proved to be a cumbersome mistake. With the amount of resident traffic going in and out of the subdivision, we had to spend an inordinate amount of time re-staking all the ones that were run over, pulled up, or relocated because a frustrated resident wanted them out of the way.”

            Poirier also learned fairly quickly that there are 38 engineers living in the subdivision, which provided an extra challenge.

            “I’m an engineer too, so I know what a pain we can be in terms of wanting to know exactly what’s going on in a project,” said Poirier. “There was one engineer resident who would measure our progress each day using his own instruments. It took him a few days before he accepted that we know what we’re doing. I wasn’t angry or insulted since that engineer and I are alike in needing to know and the desire to make certain work is completed accurately.”

            To move away from a staked jobsite, Poirier contacted Muaz Sheriff with Brandt Tractor Ltd., Saskatoon, Sask., the local Topcon Positioning Systems dealer for help to create a stakeless jobsite. Sheriff helped Warman Excavating create a 3D Site Plan which could be used by the heavy equipment for GPS-guided machine control. The digital site model was created using Topcon Magnet Office and P3D software. Warman Excavating then had all the points and the site plan governing the progress in the field, displayed in the cabs of the GPS-governed machines.

            For the project, Warman Excavating used its Komatsu D-65EX crawler dozer and a John Deere 329 compact track loader (SSL), both equipped with Topcon 3D-MC2 machine control, acquired from Brandt Tractor. The 3D-MCsystem uses MC2 inertial measurement units (IMU) sensors, which eliminates the need for receiver posts mounted on the heavy equipment blades.

            “The MC2 system is designed to reduce downtime, increase productivity, reduce machine maintenance and lower fuel cost, thus making it a good fit for the Grasswood project” Sheriff said. “It’s intended to be a dozer system, but works well on compact equipment like a skid steer loader.”

            The project required 20,000 cubic yards of fill, 39,000 tons of sand, and 46,000 tons of chipped stone. 

            “Production flexibility was crucial considering residents were coming and going at any time during a 24-hour day,” Poirier said. “We needed to stop what we were working on with a moment’s notice and then pick up again after the homeowner had passed…  without missing a beat.”

            Sheriff was instrumental in steering them to a compact piece of equipment. A skid-steer loader, as one of the principle pieces of production equipment, made sense to accommodate the stop-and-start traffic flow as well as the road’s configuration which contained elevation changes, tight radiuses, and twists and turns through the picturesque subdivision. 

            Shortly after the Grasswood Estates project began, the owner altered the production timeline. The owner changed the completion deadline to a full month earlier than the original plan.

            “This meant our work week became 7 days,” stated Poirier. “We had to work harder and smarter; because there was no way we would miss the deadline–our reputation has been built on quality results completed on time.”

            For the Warman Excavating crew, their hard work–as some might say insane production schedule–paid off. The work was completed a full week before the deadline — essentially five weeks ahead of the original production goal. With early completion they safely avoided a $1,000 per day penalty for every day past the deadline.

            When asked if the owner is happy with the new 10-kilometer paved road that serves the residents in his new residential subdivision, Poirier said: “He’s very happy. In fact, he likes what we did so much that he’s hired us to do the same thing on his next residential subdivision project! Hopefully, the schedule will not be as intense”

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wis. He can be reached through jeff_winke@yahoo.com.

Topcon announces concrete paving ‘Roadshow’ in Montana

Topcon announces concrete paving ‘Roadshow’ in Montana

Topcon Positioning Systems announces a “Roadshow” focused on stringless concrete paving is being held from June 22 – 23 in Belgrade, Montana. The sessions are designed to provide demonstrations of Millimeter GPS systems on GOMACO slipform pavers in a hands-on environment.

“This Roadshow is an excellent opportunity for a real-world experience with the Topcon 3D paving system in the field,” said Brian Lingobardo, systems manager for 3D paving. “GOMACO and Topcon application experts will be on-hand to answer any questions and explain how Millimeter GPS can offer increased productivity, time and labor savings for paving contractors.”

The live demonstrations are scheduled to be divided by application, with the Thursday session focusing on Millimeter GPS on a GOMACO Commander III Xtreme curb and gutter machine — and the Friday session featuring the 3D stringless system with a GOMACO Four-Track Commander III mainline paver. Treasure State Inc. is providing the machines and 3D equipment for the event to showcase the stringless workflow.

The Roadshow event is being held near Concrete Materials of Montana near Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at 5723 Thorpe Road, Belgrade, Montana. To RSVP, contact RDO Integrated Controls at 877-90-RDOIC (877-907-3642).

For more information, visit topconpositioning.com

Peeking At CONEXPO

By Greg Sitek

It’s over and now the industry has it sights on 2020 March 7-11 for the next roll of the CONEXPO-CON/AGG experience. The massive construction show will once againtake over LasVegas as it did this year.

Some 2017 CONEXPO show facts:

  • S. buyer attendance jumped over 16 percent from the 2014 show, and total buyer attendance improved by almost 8 percent.
  • Overall contractor and producer attendance grew by 10 percent.
  • Total attendance neared 128,000 for the week.
  • Almost half of all attendees serve in executive positions at their company, and more than 3-in-5 attendees serve in a decision-making role.
  • Almost 26,000 international attendees from 150 countries braved global headwinds including a strong dollar and flagging export markets and composed nearly 20 percent of overall attendance.
  • Attendees purchased a record-breaking 52,000 tickets for education sessions at the show, a 26 percent increase from the 2014 show. Total ticket sales excluding IFPE jumped by over 27 percent compared to 2014.

Without doubt this was one of the most upbeat industry shows I’ve attended. The excitement over the proposed $1 trillion infrastructure bill permeated the show. It was a treat to feel the positive attitude that greeted you every time you sat down for a press conference or entered a booth.

A forward-looking vision for construction and infrastructure took center stage at CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2017, from the unveiling of the world’s first 3D-printed excavator and the new Tech Experience to the largest show floor in history and a stellar education lineup featuring leading innovators.

The exhibitions held March 7-11, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, highlighted the newest product innovations and best practices for the construction and construction materials and fluid power/power transmission/motion control industries.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2017 spanned a record 2.8 million-plus net square feet of exhibits with a record 2,800-plus exhibitors from the leading U.S. and global manufacturers, from multinational giants to small firms with specialized products.

The technological changes revolutionizing construction and manufacturing were a central feature throughout the show. The first-ever Tech Experience pavilion attracted solid traffic throughout the week, as attendees flocked to see the world’s first-ever 3D-printed excavator, hear from industry innovators during a collection of “Tech Talks,” and engage with the conclusion of the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge Finale, which awarded $100,000 in prize money to winners over a crowd sourced competition to develop forward-looking infrastructure solutions.

There was no shortage of new products and technologies introduced at the show. The following are less than glimpse of only a few but illustrate the kinds of information and products shown this year in Las Vegas. Watch for more. 

JCB previewed an all-new skid steer and compact track loader with a telescopic boom. The JCB Teleskid is a revolutionary new product that can reach 60% further forward than other skid steers and can dig below its chassis to an unparalleled depth of around a little more than 3 feet (one meter).

LiuGong showcased its revolutionary new product – the Vertical Lift Wheel Loader. The product was first unveiled at LiuGong’s global dealer conference in November 2016 and was shown for the first time outside of China at CONEXPO This truly is new technology. The key innovations of the product are the vertical lift loader arms on an articulating frame and the mechanical self-leveling Z-bar bucket linkage on a vertical lift loader.

Wacker Neuson is expanding its telehandler line with the addition of the TH627. The TH627 is the second model in the manufacturer’s line to offer a unique ground-engaging telehandler that is a versatile three-in-one machine concept. Designed with a hydraulic universal attachment plate (SSL), the TH627 can be used with ground-engaging attachments and work like a (1) wheel loader to dig and carry, (2) a skid steer with a compact foot print capable of using multiple attachments and (3) a telehandler with a lift height of 18-feet, 7-inches and 5,500 pounds lifting capacity.

GOMACO Remote Diagnostics (GRD) is proven in the field by GOMACO contractors. GRD is more than telematics, giving owners the visibility of how, when, and where their equipment is being used. It’s a powerful extension to GOMACO’s existing service capabilities. It allows technicians a diagnostic review of a GOMACO machine from corporate headquarters in Ida Grove, Iowa, USA, at the owner’s shop, or on the job site. GRD will transmit G+® settings, configuration and fault history for an immediate and complete diagnosis. GRD also allows software updates, fleet management, service indicators. This remote capability also allows software updates to the G+ for specific applications or unique job-site logistics, such as new radius technology, support for new sensors, new code for 3D machine guidance technology, or additional updates for new product introductions. 

Topcon Positioning Group announces the next generation of automated concrete paving — the ZPS system — with the new Z-Robot and Z-Stack sensor. Using enhanced Topcon Millimeter GPS® technology, the ZPS system is designed to bring unmatched accuracy to concrete paving with a fraction of the hardware required for traditional LPS (local positioning system).

The new Z-Robot is an advanced robotic total station with integrated Z-beam laser technology. The Z-Robot is designed to provide a hybrid function of high-precision, optically-based vertical accuracy control and the convenience of Z-beam laser positioning to maintain that accuracy across the paver. It was shown at the show on a GOMACO paver.

CASE introduced the DL450 a fully integrated compact dozer loader AKA “Project Minotaur” – a first-of-its-kind fully integrated design that matches the best operating characteristics of a compact track loader (CTL) with a crawler dozer. A launch/production date for the machine has not been confirmed, but CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 represents a new and advanced phase in product development with extensive voice of customer work being conducted at the show and with top contractors.Project Minotaur” brings together the footprint and performance of a compact track loader with the true power and dozing characteristics of a bulldozer; the new product is currently in “concept” phase.

Remember, this is only a glimpse of what CONEXPO-CON/AGG was…

 

 

 

Complete In-Motion Dozer Control — An integrated 3D dozer system defines cutting edge

Complete In-Motion Dozer Control

An integrated 3D dozer system defines cutting edge

A development in the ongoing evolution of machine control technology, is Topcon Positioning Systems’ introduction of its 3D-MCMAX integrated 3D dozer system. Most notably, the new system has eliminated the GPS/GNSS receiver masts and associated cables which are anchored to the machine’s grading blade.

Instead the Topcon system uses two inertial measurement units (IMUs). The IMUs are low-profile boxes about a foot square and two inches thick. One mounts on the backside of the blade, the other on the undercarriage frame. The antennae for the GNSS signal is built into another low-profile box that is mounted on top of the machine cab.

In comparison, a GPS machine control system with just one position sensor on the dozer blade processes location information about 10 times a second. With Topcon’s dual IMU arrangement, the two combined sensors are designed to process information up to 100 times a second. The faster processing speed is designed to give the Topcon 3D-MCMAX system the ability to react to and compensate for small inconsistencies between the blade’s position and the position of the rest of the dozer.

As the company describes it, “3D-MCMAX provides high-accuracy elevation, slope, and blade rotation resulting in maximum speed, maximum control and maximum grading performance.  With its dual IMUs and mast-less blade, the 3D-MCMAX increases on-grade performance, maximizing both speed and grade performance.”

“We like the 3D-MCMAX system’s incredible speed, especially when we’re working on a pond project with an intricate model,” stated Ian McDonald, assistant general manager-equipment, ConDrain Company Ltd., Concord, Ont., Canada. “We have a 300-plus equipment fleet so it is good to learn, as we did, that the system works like magic on older machines, thus saving us from needing to invest in new machines in order to benefit from this advanced technology.”

In essence, the system is designed to correct errors in blade position that occur during rough or fine grading.

“In practical terms what that means is that the small errors in blade position that happen when the dozer lurches or the tracks hit low or high spots are corrected almost instantaneously,” said Murray Lodge, senior vice president and general manager of the Topcon Positioning Group and Construction Business Unit. “The end result is that in many cases the dozer can do the fine grading, eliminating the need for a motor grader, and the dozer can maintain higher speeds without needing to slow down to maintain accuracy. Additionally, the dual IMU’s know the blade’s position at all times without cylinder sensors or GNSS.”

With the elimination of the mast and connecting cables on the top of the blade, there is time savings since the operator doesn’t need to install and remove masts and cable assemblies before andafter a production shift. Plus, it can be unsafe when operators are climbing around on the dozer blade for set up and removal. If a company decides to leave masts attached to the dozer overnight, there is a theft risk, since receiver masts are high-dollar items that can attract thieves.

In addition to eliminating additional tasks that can cut into productivity, the cab-mounted receiver with the 3D-MCMAX system gives the dozer operator an unobstructed view of what’s ahead.

“We’ve been using 3D-MCMAX on our dozers for more than a year and have found it to be very user friendly—simple to install and operate,” states John Loudermilk, owner / president, Loudermilk Contracting, Vincennes, IN. “The system is very fast, which helps us complete work sooner.”

The cab-mounted GX-55 control box features integrated LED light bars, a graphical interface and data processor, which are designed to guide the machine operator to maintain grade. The control-box software captures as-built data for volume and productivity reporting.

As part of the Topcon 3D-MCMAX system, the MC-R3 is an interchangeable receiver with integrated boards for GNSS, radio, and controller to receive RTK corrections, as well as drive valves of the machine.

Mounted on the cab of the machine, is the Topcon-patented Fence-technology MC-G3 receiver/antenna. By arranging the receiver pins in an array or “fence” along patch edges, it increases the effective frequency bandwidth of the antenna. The MC-G3 antenna captures all available GNSS satellite signals, while identifying and rejecting signal noise thus, maximizing grading control.

In conclusion, the dual IMU sensors and new, unique algorithms deliver an integrated solution that locates the sensitive GNSS technology safely inside the cab instead of out on the harsh environment of the blade mounted on a receiver mast.