Enhanced Abilities: Master Construction Increases Productivity with GPS Technology
Reconstructing 13th Avenue in Fargo, North Dakota, Master Construction has deployed the latest technology for a smooth flowing job.
Master Construction of Fargo, the prime contractor on the job, used Trimble GPS equipment for road grade prep after utilities were installed and for fine grading before pavers come through. The engineers provided GPS points with the specifications. The company is using three dozers and a blade equipped with GPS technology.
"We are able to reduce the manpower that is required to complete projects by not having to rely on survey crews," says Scott Ahlf, Project Manager with Master Construction. "We are able to accomplish this with the advanced GPS technology that is being utilized on the 13th Avenue project. This technology gives us the ability to do a continuous run without having to stop."
Master Construction has used GPS on multiple projects this year, including road reconstructions and parks projected. Butler Machinery Co. of Fargo has provided Master Construction with Caterpillar machines and GPS technology.
"Butler is an incredibly valuable resource, the best in town," says Jason Winter, a Project Manager with Master Construction. "Butler's technology division is an integral part of our operation, and we are able to work hand and hand with them, ensuring we are up to date. Technology is constantly changing and needs to be updated frequently. Technical support is required. Master Construction has very little down time working with Butler."
Fred Schlanser, President and Owner of Master Construction, says that keeping up with the continually changing technology is paramount, and Butler helps keep the company ready to tackle the jobs.
"With Butler Machinery's help, we are able to stay up to date with the latest technology, ensuring our clients get the best possible results," Schlanser says. "We try to maintain a newer fleet. I believe it is crucial to have reliable and up to date equipment. With product support available from Butler Machinery, after hours, our equipment is kept up and running without affecting operations."
Third-generation, family-owned and operated Butler Machinery, founded in 1955 as a Caterpillar dealer, provides agriculture and construction equipment, and parts and service for a wide variety of clients in North and South Dakota and Nebraska. The company aims to build long-term relationships with customers and operates out of 18 stores.
Master Construction is using multiple dozers, backhoe loaders, front-end loaders and a concrete paver on the job.
Repaving Bustling 13th Avenue
Fargo has experienced a 12.3 percent growth in population, from 105,549 in 2010 to 118,523 in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. All of those people mean more motorists on the roads, including 13th Avenue, which was built in 1972. The city decided due to the increasing traffic volumes to reconstruct the bustling shopping corridor. Funding for the project came from local utility, infrastructure sales tax and special assessments.
The Fargo City commission accepted Master's $10.6 million bid to reconstruct 3,700 feet of 13th Avenue, between 38th Street and 45th Street: adding a third lane in each direction plus turn lanes; installing storm sewers, curbs and gutters; adding sidewalks and shared-use paths; landscaping; and updating street lights and traffic signals. About 38,000 vehicles drive on this section of road daily.
"It's a big project for us and a big project for anybody," Schlanser says.
The project started in April and was scheduled for completion at the end of October. One lane of traffic remained open in each direction, with no left turns allowed from 13th street at 40th, 43rd and 44th streets. The city of Fargo recommended drivers use alternate routes, especially trucks and delivery vehicles. With only one lane open and speed limits reduced to 25 mph, traffic moved more slowly than normal, especially during peak travel times. Businesses were accessible from side streets. Intermittent intersection closures took place.
One of the challenges involved a utility pipeline. Two 8-inch gas pipelines run along 42nd Street, one of the cross streets, which required a design change for the elevation of the storm sewer lines to avoid a conflict. Additional unexpected utility lines also created challenges. Master Construction "potholed" looking for utility lines and used hydraulic excavators to find the existing lines.
"Prime utility locators have had a difficult time keeping up with all of the work going on," Winter says. "It's been a battle to get accurate locates."
When Master Construction and its subcontractors completed the concrete paving on the north side, they began working on the south side. The paver that is being used on the project has the capability of covering an average of 5 feet of roadway per minute.
Schlanser says, the company prepared for inclement weather and other challenges and anticipated an on-time completion.
A "˜Legacy' Company
Fred J. Schlanser Sr., founded Master Construction in 1973. His son Fred said that as his father neared retirement, he wanted to establish a company as a legacy. Initially, Master Construction was primarily a private-sector concrete contractor.
In 1975, Fred J. Schlanser Jr., at the age of 15, began working for his father. Knowing that one day his son would take over the "family business," Fred Sr. insisted that he learn the ropes by working on the various crews side by side with the other employees. In 1983, the presidency of Master Construction was transitioned to his son and, in 1994, Fred Jr. officially took over the company.
Master Construction, under the guidance and leadership of Fred Jr., began to encompass all aspects of the heavy construction industry, from the initial excavation of a jobsite, to underground utility installation, paving and street rehabilitation. Work is primarily done for city municipalities including the cities of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead.
The company currently employees about 180 people, with offices and shops in Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks and Dickinson, North Dakota. Heavy construction is the main concentration in the Fargo office, with the other locations handling lighter jobs and trenching for fiber optic communication cables, fiber splicing and testing, multi dwelling wiring, installation of fiber [cables] and wiring of homes.
"We've evolved," says Schlanser. "Technology and having the right people to operate that technology is a key component in the construction industry today."
The 13th Avenue project progressed as planned.
"This is a principal job for us in 2016, and we are confident in our abilities to tackle this and other large projects," Schlanser says. "As an organization we look forward to the challenges and changes the future will bring."