Pick Up the Pace With Your Earth-Moving Projects

GPS machine control and grade management help Robert B. Our Co. dig efficiently
Pick Up the Pace With Your Earth-Moving Projects
Robert B. Our Co. employee Mathieu Rebello. (Photo By Julia Cumes)

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The Robert B. Our Co. in Harwich, Massachusetts, has nearly two dozen pieces of site preparation and earthmoving equipment used in the construction of septic and water projects on Cape Cod and the surrounding areas.

In 2006, the company went high-tech when it invested in a GPS-based machine control and grade-management system. The system provides the equipment operator with a full-color 3-D model of the job and real-time information on where the vehicle is and the position of the blade or other implement relative to the final grade.

“Say we’re building a new road,” says Chris Our, one of the owners of the company. “When we get the job from an engineer, we get it on a disk. Then we can build the road in the office in the computer as a 3-D model with your layers and the gravels and where the hills are and where the holes are. Then we go into the field and get oriented as to the location and where bounds are. The information goes up into a satellite and then back down into the machine.” Instead of relying on stakes for directions, the operator is guided by the onboard computer’s 3-D model.

The last pass-through by a grader, excavator or dozer can actually be done automatically, Our says. “You can run it like a normal machine, but then you can flip it over where it will be automated for the last foot. You have to run it and steer it, but it will do the grading by itself.”

The company uses systems from both Topcon Positioning Systems and Trimble. While initial costs are considerable, the benefits are significant in terms of efficiency, time, and costs, as very little survey and staking work is required, fewer grading passes are needed, and guesswork is eliminated. The company can take on more projects and be more competitive.

While the setup and design of projects requires the help of subcontracted engineers and specialists on staff at the Robert B. Our Co. to build the sophisticated models, operators in the field need no computer experience and can get up to speed in very little time. Our himself admits his knowledge about the system is limited — he knows what it can do for his company, and it’s been worth every penny.

Read more about the Robert B. Our Co. in this month’s issue of Pumper magazine.


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