When a local dairy expanded, Pierce Builders used Topcon GPS technology to make the site work progress faster, with great accuracy.
"The Topcon system saves money for surveying and saves time," says Brian Pierce, Vice President of Pierce Builders in Granby, Connecticut, site work contractor for the Oakridge Dairy project.
Expanding the Oakridge Dairy
Oakridge Dairy, a long-time farming business in Ellington, Connecticut, started construction on a new diary farm in September 2016. The new facility will allow the dairy to merge its two milking operations, dating back to the 1800s and 1970s, at one location, add more cows and operate more efficiently.
The site work included creating a manure lagoon and hauling that dirt to the front where the new cow barn was to be built.
Pierce Builders used a Topcon GR-5 base/rover set up to lay out all of the drainage and utilities that the company installed at the diary. Plans were uploaded to the Topcon system using a USB flash drive.
Then, a member of the crew held the range pole with the base/rover on top. A screen showed the location, and the operator could pick a point, for instance a point on a catch basin. The system produced an arrow and guided the operator to the location and how far up and down the grade needed to be.
"Once we go out and set the job up, we can see where we are and know how much material we need to bring in to get it [up] to grade and how much we have to dig," Pierce says. "We use it a lot, because we don't need to have a surveyor stake anything out for us."
The system also offers an automatic topography feature. The rover takes elevation shots, and the operator can monitor progress and determine how much additional material is needed.
Pierce Builders paired the base/rover with a 3D-MC dozer, with grade control, to grade and shape the entire manure lagoon without any staking or surveying and to install the fill to the barn in exact 1-foot lifts without any staking. Then the material was compressed and work continued. The dozer driver never had to get off the machine to check the grade measurements.
"This also allowed us to know when we had the amount that we needed installed," Pierce says.
The driver steers the machine to where the work is to take place and watches the location on a screen in the dozer. Once the dozer is within two-tenths of the desired level, the drive turns on the automatic grade control and the system sets the blade where it needs to be and controls it from then on.
Pierce Builders also uses the system to install pipe. "You know you are putting pipe in at the exactly the place and depth it needs to go," Pierce explains.
The Topcon system provides reports with information about how much dirt is in a pile that has to be moved or a vacant space to fill, allowing Pierce Builders to provide more accurate quotes.
The Topcon system also enables Pierce Builders to create as-built records for all of the underground piping.
"This will be very useful later, if the owners need to know where the pipe is running from the barn to the manure lagoon," Pierce says.
Pierce Builders strives operate as efficiently as possible, providing economic benefit and lower costs to clients, while still delivering quality workmanship and on-time completion. The company is transforming its fleet to the Topcon system.
Topcon's 3D-MC automation allows operators to double their production. In some cases, it can replace a motor grader. Fewer passes are needed to reach the desired elevation. The software updates the position of the dozer 100 times per second.
Pierce reports he purchased his first Topcon system about a year ago and found it easy to use. The Topcon sales representative taught Pierce Builders' staff how to use the equipment. Additionally, Topcon offers courses and a help desk that can talk people through any questions. Dozer drivers, even those experts with 30-years experience, wanted the Topcon system on their equipment, Pierce recalls.
"They took their skills, combined it with this, and it has made a world of difference," Pierce says. Now, the company has three systems.
"Once you get used to it, you won't want to live without it," Pierce concludes. "The systems pay for themselves."
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