AccuGrade Key Component to Lock’s Dozing’s Success

Fri March 16, 2007 - Southeast Edition
CEG



Rodney Lock has seen less competition for jobs since he started using Caterpillar’s AccuGrade GPS and laser technology.

“Many times I don’t even get bid against because of the accuracy that this system provides,” said the owner of Lock’s Dozing Inc. in Dalton, Ga.

Four years ago, after Cat partnered with Trimble and began incorporating the AccuGrade system into the production of select machines, his firm tested one of the first AccuGrade machines. He purchased the machine tested and started using the technology with just lasers. Lock wanted to further expand on his existing technology and started using GPS two years later.

“After we ran it for just a couple of days, I saw that I couldn’t do without it,” he recalled. “I get a lot of repeat business from my customers because I get it right the first time.”

Lock’s Dozing primarily used the dual slope laser set-up for a subcontracting job it had at a warehouse expansion in Dalton, Ga. With this system, the center laser receiver controls the height of the dozer blade and the outside laser receiver controls the tilt of the blade.

The facility was expanded by 100,000 sq. ft. (9,290 sq. m) and a 10,000 to 15,000 sq. ft. (929 to 1,393 sq. m) loading dock was added. Approximately 7 acres (2.8 ha) of land needed to be graded, on which 11,000 cu. yds. (8,410 cu. m) of dirt was moved.

Lock worked at this site during a previous expansion project. He believes he was asked back because of the accuracy with which they completed the first job.

Lock purchased the machines with the AccuGrade system from Skip Owen of Yancey Bros. Co., who said Caterpillar has made it easy for contractors to get a GPS or laser system up and running. All they have to do is mount the laser receivers on the machine, plug in a quick disconnect and do the same with the cab monitor. The system wiring and hydraulics have been built into the machines at the factory.

Lock said the equipment has paid for itself several times over. What normally took his crew three days the “old-fashioned way” now can be accomplished in half a day, eliminating a lot of labor costs.

Owen said cost savings can be seen when working with concrete and stone, too.

“The accuracy of the AccuGrade is going to give you a final surface that is closer to the target spec and the result will typically be less material needed for the pad,” he said. “Add that up over a large pad and the numbers get big. Cost justification comes pretty quickly between labor, surveying and materials savings.”

Lock pointed to another job site in which this proved true. His crew was building road beds, as well as grading work for a 90-condominium development on 14 acres (5.6 ha). It was tricky because each unit had a pad that was at a different elevation.

“The surveyor came out once, set up our control points and we never had to deal with him again,” Lock said. “We graded the entire site, backfilled the curbs and put top soil down, using GPS on every phase of it. Our material thickness was right all the way through the job. I probably paid for my entire GPS system on this one job.”

Lock said he’s been able to easily train his operators how to use the system and finds himself making fewer visits to job sites.

“The operators have the blueprint — all they have to do is click the screen so they know where they are and what goes next. Everything is there that they need,” he said, noting that an operator only needs to learn eight commands to successfully run the system.

Lock has found that his company is able to handle more jobs since his change over to AccuGrade, too.

“In the past, I could handle maybe three jobs running at one time. Now I can get four or five going at one time,” he said.

With spending less time with his operators, Lock is able to focus his efforts on more complicated jobs.

“My business will keep on growing because of this technology,” he said. CEG Staff