Investing in Machine Control and Guidance Technology

Tue July 01, 2014 - Northeast Edition
CEG

A Cat 336E equipped with Cat AccuGrade was available for customers to try out. In addition to the 336E, customers could demo a D6K XL with Trimble Robotic 3D technology, a CS56B soil roller with MDP compaction technology, a D6T LGP with 3D Trimble GPS tec
A Cat 336E equipped with Cat AccuGrade was available for customers to try out. In addition to the 336E, customers could demo a D6K XL with Trimble Robotic 3D technology, a CS56B soil roller with MDP compaction technology, a D6T LGP with 3D Trimble GPS tec
A Cat 336E equipped with Cat AccuGrade was available for customers to try out. In addition to the 336E, customers could demo a D6K XL with Trimble Robotic 3D technology, a CS56B soil roller with MDP compaction technology, a D6T LGP with 3D Trimble GPS tec Kyle Birne of TREC Management in Elka Park, N.Y., moves some dirt using machine control and guidance technology. SITECH Northeast Applications Specialist Matt Kunesch (L) explains site positioning to a customer. Mike Jouben, general manager of SITECH Northeast, goes over MDP compaction technology with customers as SITECH Northeast automation support specialist Evan Motschmann looks on. A close-up view of the MDP compaction technology screen. Jason Borchard was pleased with the machine control and guidance. SITECH Northeast’s Evan Motschmann answers questions about intelligent compaction and MDP compaction technology for the MassDOT. This D6T LGP with 3D Trimble GPS technology makes short work of building a model road on the demonstration site. With dual GPS antennas the exact amount of material is placed.


It’s a fact of life. Contractors are constantly looking for ways to protect and grow their position in the marketplace and compete effectively in an increasingly crowded environment. Regardless of size, specialty or location, construction business owners agree that you cannot sit still — unless you’re moving forward, you’ll be left behind. But where’s the next edge coming from — and how are equipment dealers responding to their customers’ challenges?

The truth may be that the next equipment frontier is not being fought — and won — with iron alone. Many successful contractors would tell you that their own best weapon is right in front of their operators’ eyes and it’s called MC&G, or machine control and guidance. More and more often, equipment outfitted with that technology is seen flawlessly handling complicated work, helping meet tight deadlines and cutting down on cost and rework.

"We’re offering contractors integrated solutions that allow them to extend not just the power but also the intelligence of their equipment," said Dave Perry, VP of sales at Milton CAT. "Today’s MC&G elevates machine performance to a whole new level."

Teamwork

It takes a well-aligned effort to support contractors in this emerging environment and Milton CAT has implemented a strategically-balanced concept to expose its customers to the benefits of MC&G-outfitted equipment.

"You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but as we all know, nothing beats a demo," said Mike Jouben, general manager of SITECH Northeast, the authorized northeast distributor of Trimble equipment technology.

Milton CAT has developed a formula to offer machine control and guidance demo and operation events across its territory.

These events are invitation-only; they are held at locations across Milton CAT’s territory, and they are staffed both by Milton CAT machine salespeople and SITECH Northeast automation specialists. In addition, representatives from partner modeling firms also are on hand to answer questions about that important aspect.

Milton CAT sales personnel target contractors who have expressed an interest in learning more about MC&G. The numbers are kept small so every operator gets the chance to receive one-on-one instruction from a SITECH Northeast specialist, and feel comfortable about practicing the new skills.

Another component of a successful demo is a large area where the operators can put to the test their new skills, as well as plenty of materials such as sand, loam and gravel, that can be used to practice.

"It’s key to have a good range of equipment outfitted with MC&G, and also, several technology options to compare," Jouben said. As an example, he explained that at the last Milton CAT event that took place in Milford, Mass., guests could choose to operate equipment from a lineup that featured a D6K XL with Trimble Robotic 3D technology, a CS56B soil roller with MDP compaction technology, a Cat 336E upgraded with Trimble AccuGrade, a D6T LGP with 3D Trimble GPS technology and a Cat asphalt roller with intelligent compaction.

Listen up

Nothing beats unfiltered comments. It’s definitely worthwhile to witness the reaction of operators who have been cut loose, allowed to put into practice what they had learned about MC&G, as well as to listen firsthand what the contracting firms’ owners who were present at events had to say.

In general, the comments can be divided into three categories. One is the straight business-type — "Machine control and guidance will allow me to compete with bigger companies," is a good example; in this case the words came from Kyle Birne, TREC Management, Elka Park, New York. Other comments refer to the ease of use of the technology; Matt McCue of SPS New England Inc., Salisbury, Mass., said that he doesn’t operate a machine any longer, but he could in this case, "because all I had to do was steer." Another category are the comments regarding the performance of the machines outfitted with MC&G; for example, Dave Black of Shaker Flats Landscaping said, "It could do things that the machines we own can’t."

Does It Make Sense for You?

That may be the one million dollar question. Every business is different, and nobody can claim that there’s one answer that fits all cases. But nobody wants to get left behind either; catching up becomes harder and more expensive. Take a look at what’s available and what’s being used by contractors you respect, and then, if it’s possible — and free — give it a try.