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Knowing Where You Are

The old way was to locate a landmark and say, “I’m a mile and a half from X.” Now, you don’t say anything, you let your GNSS (global navigation satellite system), such as a GPS, send the precise coordinates to the person—or more likely, machine—that needs the information. The use of satellite positioning has grown to a major source of data points for automation and autonomous equipment.

For decades, original equipment manufacturers like Caterpillar and aftermarket suppliers, such as Trimble and Topcon Positioning Systems, have been supplying the equipment necessary for GNSS location mapping of machinery. Topcon, for example, has combined multiple sensors and technologies to increase efficiency and simplify heavy equipment operations across multiple manufacturers. Now, that includes automating data exchanges with design and planning tools and software typically used on construction projects, as well as integrations with popular software used by contractors for managing assets, people, and materials.

Topcon recently announced the availability of a new GNSS option for its MC-Mobile compact machine control solution. Rounding out the company’s compact solutions portfolio, this GNSS option allows contractors to easily integrate their compact machines into fleets already powered by GNSS technology. This expansion gives owners of skid steers, CTL (compact track loaders), and mini excavators the broadest offering of machine control options to date.

Working with a prism pole and 3D robotic instrument, the LN-150, users easily measure, design, and build right onsite, all with one 3-in-1 solution. This option allows fleet managers to easily integrate compact machines into much larger, more complex workflows. Both LPS (local positioning system) and GNSS versions are available.

The entire MC-X powered portfolio is designed to make machine control easy to use and affordable for a variety of contractors. It ties together mixed fleets of earthmoving (both full-size and compact), asphalt, and concrete paving equipment, and is designed to be as flexible as it is powerful, adapting across applications and machine types, improving performance and speed for operators of all skill levels.

The MC-X architecture combines multiple communication technologies, such as the Sitelink3D connectivity platform, support for numerous elevation sensors, and GNSS receivers, to tailor solutions directly to a contractor’s workflow to maximize return on investment at every phase of an operation.

The point of all those sensors, of course, is to provide data and while hardware such as the machine control unit uses the output to position equipment accurately, data can also be used to position a company’s workflow more accurately. In this regard, Topcon is also thinking ahead by acquiring construction software and data integrations and services company DCW (Digital Construction Works).

DCW’s services and software integration platform will help customers navigate and maximize the use of construction data made available across multiple apps and software. This has value because today’s construction business owners have more critical data at their fingertips than ever before, but it is often a challenge to distill all that information from so many sources.

To make the most well-informed business decisions, contractors need an easy way to understand all of the data generated from multiple digital tools and software along every phase of a project—that’s DCW’s forte.

DCW enables the connection of the jobsite and the office. Automation and the availability of integrated and aggregated data provide greater insights into project performance and status. As part of Topcon, the DCW integrations platform enhances the value of Topcon’s interoperability with third-party software typically used to execute machine-guided operations.

This integration saves users time and money by automating report generation and eliminating manual data entry across a multi-vendor and multi-stakeholder project environment. Office-to-site connections provide automated workflows, visualization, and reporting within a secure user-facing integration platform.

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