Working efficiently is the key to profitability when it comes to earthmoving applications. That is why GPS-based grade control systems have become vital components of an equipment fleet. The early bolt-on systems brought a new level of efficiency to jobsites with its masts and cables as operators were able to hit their grades in fewer passes and reduce over digging.
Grade-control systems made an evolutionary leap in the late 2010s as manufacturers began integrating their dozers – and eventually excavators – with the technology. This move once again revolutionized how jobsites operated and increased performance, safety, and efficiency.
Today, machine owners are faced with the question of purchasing new equipment with integrated systems or continuing to use aftermarket systems. Here are some things to consider when making that decision:
Will competing systems work together?
You have options when it comes to GPS technology. Most companies have invested in GPS technology, and typically one brand under the assumption that they will work together seamlessly. Purchasing a new piece of equipment that runs on competitive, integrated software platform may seem like a risk. However, with the addition of an external radio, GPS systems can communicate with each other, allowing your fleet to operate as if it were all using the same technology.
What is the safety benefit?
Integrated systems have the clear advantage here. With the technology built into the machine, there is no need to attach masts and cables every morning and remove them each night. This reduces the amount of time an operator is on or outside of the machine and increases the amount of time they are in the cab.
What are your future fleet plans?
If you operate a fleet of standard late-model machines that still have a lot of production ahead of them, your best bet may be to continue to use aftermarket technology until you are ready to upgrade multiple pieces in a short amount of time. This is especially true if you already own a base and rover that is working with your fleet. This way you can work with the system you are comfortable with. When you decide it is time to get integrated technology, the upgrade and training can happen at one time instead of over a period of years.
What does your workforce look like?
If your operators are experienced and comfortable with the system in place, then there is no need for a major overhaul with equipment and training. Plus, they may be experienced enough to overcome some of the shortfalls of the aftermarket systems have compared to the advanced machine-control features of the integrated systems.
If you have a younger or more inexperienced staff, integrated software offers many more machine-control features like track slip and lift thickness that can improve their operating production significantly. Also, the training curve should be shorter with a younger more tech-savvy audience.