Spreading the word about machine control

Badenoch attributes a large portion of the strong growth of his business, Baden Plant Hire, to the fact that he started out with Leica machine control on his machines.Badenoch started seeing the need for GPS on detailed jobs when he was working in the industry as a foreman. Then, while on a bypass project with Abigroup, he saw the opportunity for 2D guidance systems to really make a difference.Badenoch discussed the benefits of machine control with Leica Geosystems supplier C.R. Kennedy and decided to buy a Leica DigSmart (now PowerDigger) system for his newly acquired excavator.“When I started out with the machine control five years ago, most of the guys were old school – especially the operators – and they were scared of it,” Badenoch said. “Over the last three years that has changed. Now it is needed.”Baden Plant Hire runs two Caterpillar 324 DL excavators with Leica 3D systems and one Cat 12H Grader with a Leica 3D grader system. More machine control systems are hired in as needed. “Without the machine control systems, a crew of two or three men with at least 100 pegs are needed, not to mention the surveyors,” Badenoch said. “It is a long, drawn-out process.”The response from the high productivity and accuracy Badenoch was achieving with the initial Leica system resulted in such high demand that he quickly invested in a second excavator. Coupled with the boom time demand, Baden Plant Hire has grown from one machine to 11 in just six years.The company is working on a large project on the Gold Coast. His GPS-enabled grader is doing trimming of the formation for capping layers, and his GPS-enabled excavator is doing the trimming of batters and drains and the detailed trimming of formation.Badenoch said a major safety issue was overshadowing the job when he first came on board. Large, steep 10m batters posed a safety problem with men having to stand up on top and at the bottom. Using machine control saved manpower and resolved the safety issues.The final trim check of a 1000-square-metre parking area on the site showed only one small error, of 5mm height. This is remarkable when considering the trimming was done in single passes only and relying solely on machine control.In total, seven machines running machine control from various suppliers are being utilised on this job. Badenoch said his three Leica systems run off the Trimble base station “without a problem at all”. He said it was a common misconception in the industry that this wasn’t possible.According to Badenoch, a lot of operators are scared of the initial outlay for a system, but he is absolutely passionate about it being worth the capital. “Since I’ve had the Leica machine control systems, the majority of calls have been for machines, especially excavators, with GPS functionality,” he said. “Even if we didn’t get a good return on the system itself – which we do – the high demand for machines with the GPS guidance means constant work through the door.”Badenoch admitted to some nervousness about the economic downturn but said that, looking at industry trends, he believed his machines would continue to be the ones most in demand, even if there was less work. “There aren’t that many guys with GPS ready to go,” he said. “Guys with [GPS] are busy. I need to have it at the moment, because it means I’ll get the job.”

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