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Laser Attachment on Bobcat Skid Steer Makes the Grade

Wed September 26, 2007 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

DayCo Concrete Co. Inc., Chanhassen, Minn., has been using Bobcat loaders with a laser-controlled grader attachment for commercial and industrial concrete flatwork for the past 13 years.

Previously, the company used a Bobcat skid-steer loader or a dozer with a bucket and a grade rod and laser or transit to periodically check grade throughout the grading process. Today the company operates two 7-ft.-wide (2.1 m) Bobcat grader attachments, mounted on Bobcat compact track loaders with a laser system. This equipment is used on concrete flatwork projects ranging in size from 25,000 sq. ft. (2,323 sq m) to approximately 250,000 sq. ft. (23,226 sq m).

Setting up the laser system involves adjusting the location of the receivers on the masts mounted at either end of the blade of the grader attachment to the desired height. Then the operator begins making passes over the area as the laser system automatically controls the height of the blade.

“A grade checker will double check the grade with a grade rod and a laser once or twice after that, but that doesn’t take much time,” said Dave Brockpahler, president of the company. “Normally, an inexperienced operator working with someone who knows how to use the equipment can become pretty good at using this system in just a few days. The equipment is pretty much maintenance-free. In fact, we’re still using our first laser system.”

Originally, the company switched to laser-equipped Bobcat grader attachments to save time preparing the base prior to pouring the concrete floors.

“Once you get the grader and laser set up, it’s a pretty simple and efficient way to grade,” said Brockpahler. “With this equipment, we can grade two to three times as much area in the same time as we once did the old way.”

However, he soon discovered that the increased accuracy of laser-controlled grading offered even more valuable benefits. In the past, he and his crews were able to reduce concrete overage to within about 5 percent of projections. Now, they’ve reduced that to about 1 percent or less — a significant difference.

“On a 5,000-cubic-yard project, a 5 percent overage represents an extra 250 cubic yards, while a 1 percent overage amounts to only 50 cubic yards,” Brockpahler explained. “With the price of reinforced concrete running from about $80 to $100 a cubic yard, that difference really adds up. As concrete prices continue to rise, the accuracy you can achieve with a laser system becomes more and more important.”

Laser precision also means a much more uniform thickness when pouring a concrete floor.

“A floor with no thin or thick areas is the strongest,” he said. “It was difficult to achieve this using a grade rod to check the grade.”

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Printed with permission from Bobcat WorkSaver magazine.

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