Grisoni-Zaugg SA, a family owned contractor, founded in 1946, and based in Bulle, Switzerland is preserving profitability and competitiveness, while maintaining its successful market position. How are they doing it? Grisoni-Zaugg is exploiting the advantages of machine guidance.
After completing extensive research and assessment, Luc Giroud, technology supervisor at Grisoni-Zaugg, selected Trimble GCS900 Grade Control Systems. Giroud cites the functionality, flexibility, and robustness of the Trimble’s GCS Grade Control System, and the service capabilities of Trimble’s Swiss dealer Allnav as key factors for the decision. Because of the relatively small construction projects and the challenges of the landscape, Swiss construction companies have been slow to adopt machine control technologies. With 700 employees, Grisoni-Zaugg is involved in diverse projects that include earthmoving, road construction, building construction, ground stabilization and quarry work. The equipment fleet includes approximately 90 excavators, several bulldozers, some graders, as well as, wheel and track loaders. On average, the company completes 300 sites each year.
In early 2008, Grisoni-Zaugg equipped three excavators (two Liebherrs and a Caterpillar) and two bulldozers (Komatsu and Caterpillar) with Trimble GCS900 Grade Control Systems. An important factor in Giroud’s choice of the Trimble systems is that they use CAN Bus technology and benefit from a "plug and play" design. This means that once a machine is preinstalled,. The 2D and 3D system components (MS990 GPS antennas, CB430 or CB420 control boxes, LR410 Laser Receivers etc..) can be easily mounted and transferred from one machine to the other. For Grisoni-Zaugg this translated into substantial savings. They purchased two 2D GCS400 Grade Control Systems and two 3D GCS900 Grade Control Systems. These four systems can rotate among machines depending on the application, precision required and location of the machine — thus, providing Grisoni-Zaugg with maximum flexibility to apply the best machine control technology to the task.
ROI on single medium jobsite
A typical Grisoni-Zaugg jobsite using the Trimble GCS900 Grade Control Systems has been the Chernex / Montreux site where 14000 m3 of earth was moved with the Liebherr R934 equipped with GCS900. This was the first site where 3D control technology was used.
Giroud said the advantages of the 3D Grade Control System became immediately obvious. Only half of usual number of grade stakes were necessary to start the job. Grade checking during the work was greatly reduced, since the data was on board and available to the machine operator. In addition, safety on the site was dramatically improved since the foreman did not need to be walking around the operating machines with a rod and level manually verifying the elevations. Considerable time, staff and money savings have been realized. There has been little to no down time for the machine. And accuracy of +/- 2cm has been achieved on the entire site.
"Smaller construction sites do not necessarily mean simple ones," Giroud said. "Challenges may even be bigger with complex grade designs, such as vertical curves, transitions, super-elevated curves and complex site designs. Trimble Grade Control Systems allow the realization of these without stakes, string lines or paper layouts. This mean considerable time and financial savings. Additionally, the precision provides material savings and reduced rework."
Productivity gain with GPS based surveying
To achieve maximum benefits of the GPS technology, Grisoni-Zaugg also invested in a Trimble SPS881 rover as well as in a TSC2 data collector with the SCS900 software. Giroud uses the Trimble® SCS900 Site Controller Software to perform measurement, grade checking and stakeout, as well as for checking finished grade and laid material thickness against design elevations and tolerances. Combined with Trimble SPS881 GPS+GLONASS receivers, the Trimble SCS900 software allows the surveyor, Alexandre Louboutin, to take more control over the job site whether it is a small site development or major highways project. "Using the Trimble rover with the Swiss VRS service SWIPOS saves me up to 50% of time, especially for site preparation and surface control," states Louboutin.
How it all works
The GCS400 Grade Control System was selected for the dozers. It is a dual-control system that controls both the lift and tilt of the machine blade. This is achieved by connecting two LR410 laser receivers to the system. By controlling both functions, the GCS400 lets the operator control the material more accurately across the jobsite. The system is used primarily for medium commercial building sites, road construction and finished grading.
The GCS900 Grade Control System with dual GPS can be installed on dozers and excavators for a wide range of earthmoving applications. This is a full 3D control system that puts the site plan, including design surfaces, grades and alignments, right inside the operator compartment. Using GPS, the exact position of the blade or the bucket is measured in real time. This is especially advantageous for complex design surfaces. The on-board computer uses the position information, and compares it to the design elevation to compute cut or fill to grade. This information is displayed on the Trimble CB430 Control Box — in plan, profile, cross-section view, or text. On the dozer the cut/fill data is also used to drive the valves for automatic blade control. Additionally, the cut/fill data is passed to the GCS900 lightbars, providing additional visual guidance to the operator for up/down to grade and right/left to a defined alignment.
One of the main components of the GCS900 systems is the Trimble MS990 Smart GPS Antenna, which supports all the GPS signals. Each unit contains a GNSS receiver, antenna, and isolation system all in a single housing. It is installed on masts on the blade or on the back of the excavators. The MS990 uses an advanced RTK engine designed to provide faster system initialization times when the satellite lock is lost. This feature and the combined GPS+GLONASS positioning solution are designed to allow the GCS900 Grade Control System to increase machine productivity and utilization in tough areas of the jobsite, where tree canopies or other obstructions may exist, and reduces system downtime when satellite availability is obstructed, such as when working against high walls or in deep cuts.
Giroud said that he likes the fact that the MS990 is lightweight (3kg) and quick to remove, making it easy to move between different machines or to provide a fast upgrade path on the dozer from the GCS400 laser system to the GCS900. The antenna ratchet mount means no field tools are needed to mount or remove it. Additionally since there is no separate receiver unit mounted in the cab, it is faster to move the GPS around a fleet.
The Trimble Grade Control System has been designed for sensor independence. This refers to the ability to take a given machine and quickly swap one sensor for another.
A classic example at Grisoni-Zaugg would be the swapping of sensors on one of their dozers using the Grade Control System with GPS for rough earthworks then swapping them for the laser receivers for finished grading. Within a few minutes, the user simply unplugs the MS990 cable, disconnects the MS990 from the antenna mount, then mounts and connects the laser sensor. This gives Grisoni-Zaugg maximum flexibility in utilizing their machines with Trimble’s Grade Control System. Depending on the application, the precision needed for the project and the location of the machine the correct system is chosen and mounted.
For Grisoni-Zaugg, the investment in Trimble grade control technology is paying off. The company is able to utilize it’s equipment fleet more efficiently, save time in site prep and production, and manage a much safer work site. According to Giroud, the bottom line is that the adoption of machine control technologies has increased the company’s productivity. In the end, the bottom line is what counts the most.