Waters Construction Uses Topcon Technology to Increase Machine Production and Improve Accuracy on Accelerated Airport Project
When Waters Construction Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, reconstructed a 4,800-foot-long, 100-foot-wide asphalt runway at Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, Connecticut, "The biggest challenge was the aggressive schedule; everything had to happen quickly," said Mike Archer, Superintendent for Waters Construction.
As general contractor for the $10 million project, Waters Construction began work in June 2016 and finished by the end of September. In order to speed construction while maintaining the accuracy needed to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards, they utilized technology from Topcon Positioning Systems to conduct their own surveys and upload layouts to GPS automated systems on their equipment. With the Topcon technology, "We increased the production of each machine and the overall, consistent accuracy of the work," Archer said.
The project, funded by the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, (owner of the airport) and the FAA, improved the safety of the facility's primary runway, including the addition of an adjacent Runway Safety Area (RSA) to reduce the risk of airplane damage in case of an undershoot or overshoot. The accelerated, three-month work schedule minimized financial impact to the airport and inconvenience to travelers.
Schedule Control and Quality Assurance
At the beginning of the project, "The in-house survey we did with Topcon's HiPer V and robotic total station allowed us to control our own schedule," Archer said, an important factor in meeting the tight deadline.
Waters Construction also used their Topcon surveying equipment throughout the project to keep their work on-track. "We never had to worry about scheduling or waiting for an outside surveyor," Archer explained. "We used our system up-front to do existing condition surveys; we used it during construction to perform layout, as well as quality control checks that ensured we stayed within tolerances; and we used it at the end to perform final as-built surveys and final quality control surveys."
The HiPer V base station coordinated the survey system with Topcon's GPS technology on the bulldozers, graders, and pavers. "As layouts were updated from the surveys, we were able to download them into the equipment for any elevation changes that were needed," Archer said.
The Topcon 3D-MC2 GPS technology on each of the bulldozers and graders increased efficiency, allowing the machines to operate at faster speeds and make fewer passes to complete more work in less time, Archer said. "It allowed our operators to work 10 hours a day with minimal supervision as far as controlling location and grade. Because they weren't relying on me or one of our foremen to give them layouts, they were able to stay productive all day long."
The 3D-MC2 system also achieved the necessary precision. "With the machine-control system holding the elevation, all the operators needed to do was control the location," Archer said. "It definitely helped with accuracy because it held the tolerances consistently. Unlike conventional grading - where you check every 50 feet at a grade stake and it could be off in between - the machine-controlled system held the accuracy throughout the entire length so we were able to produce a much better overall product."
Waters Construction used their own Komatsu D51 and Caterpillar D5G Bulldozers, as well as a rented Komatsu D61 Bulldozer, to form 73,000 square yards of subgrade, install 23,500 cubic yards of P154 subbase, and place 18,500 cubic yards of P209 processed aggregate. The bulldozers also graded 150,000 square yards of safety area. The company's Komatsu GD650 Grader, supplemented by a rented Topcon millimeter system, completed 73,000 square yards of fine grading prior to paving. Each of the bulldozers and the grader used the 3D-MC2 technology.
For paving, Waters Construction used their Caterpillar AP 1000 Paver with a Topcon System 5 to control the thickness of the asphalt mat, cross slope, and ensure a smooth ride for aircraft.
Waters Construction purchased all of their GPS technology from the Topcon Solutions Store in Berlin, Connecticut. When they rented the millimeter grading system, "Topcon came and set it up for us, then they came back a couple of other times just to make sure it was running like it should," Archer said. "They helped us throughout the job."
Formerly known as Bunce Industries, LLC, their dealer is part of Topcon Positioning Group's new collaboration of independent Topcon distributors throughout 10 states. The Topcon Solutions Store provides construction, survey, and aerial mapping solutions; field supplies; technical support; and warranty and repair services.
"We've been Topcon customers since 2010," Archer said. "Their products are user-friendly for managers such as myself and the equipment operators. Our Topcon dealer has been very responsive whenever we have an issue or a question."