New Innovations in GPS Machine Control

Plantforce Rentals, in partnership with BAM, Leica Geo- Systems and SMP, have launched first in the UK trials of a semi-automated excavator and tilt rotator combination powered by Leica’s new innovative MC1 GPS machine control platform.

Trials commenced on the 2nd November 2020 on site with strategic partners BAM Construction, on a civil engineering and road construction project in Southampton. Trials are planned to continue across varied strategic sites in the UK over the coming months.

Comments Plantforce Rentals Operations Director Sam Mercer: “Plantforce Rentals has a great record of showcasing and presenting new technology/solutions and bringing them into the hire market, we pride ourselves on operating one of the largest fleets of technology focused exactors and dozers in the UK.

“We were privileged to be chosen by Leica Geosystems to be involved in a new trial of a semi-automated excavator with GPS and tilt rotator combination, working with strategic partners such as BAM, Kobelco and SMP, with months in the planning we have now began trials of the new machine on various BAM projects, Bam being the perfect partner for the job with their wealth of industry and technology knowledge.

“We are very excited to see the future of machine control advancing at such a fast rate for our customers, and as a supplier to some of the largest infrastructure projects we feel it’s our duty to push such innovations to the forefront of the industry.”

 The system                                                                                                                            

The advanced GPS platform solution automatically controls boom, bucket, and tilt rotator functions to dig faster and more accurate to the target design surface and cross slope. The new semi-automatic functionality enables the operator to execute complex tasks, reduce manual controls, increase productivity, speed and accuracy of the work, even for less experienced operators.

“Automating the excavator on a jobsite will increase productivity and accuracy, decrease operator fatigue and fuel consumption. I am convinced that a more focused and alert operator is a safer operator, decreasing the risk of accidents and costly rework errors,” explains Kris Maas, product management director in the machine control division at Leica Geosystems.

The new solution is developed through the hydraulic controller and requires the installation of a hydraulic control unit. The advanced 3D excavator machine control solution offers several new functions:

  • Simple engagement of the auto function by pulling the stick.
  • The cross-cut surface protection prevents the operator from digging into other parts of the design surface.
  • The solution automatically adjusts the bucket height to minimise over-excavation and costly rework.
  • Intelligent slope detection to automatically snap to the correct slope of the surface under the bucket.
  • Rotation controlled cross-cut, combining the auto bucket and the auto tilt functions to match the target surface regardless of the bucket rotation.

The Machine

A specifically chosen Kobelco SK210 was retro fitted with P4 hydraulic pump system, a fully installed Leica MC1 machine control platform with valve control unit and an SMP ST22 Tilt Rotator, and vinyl wrapped in partner branding.