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Tue December 30, 2014 - Northeast Edition
The Morgan School, a public school for students in grades 9 to 12 in Clinton, Conn., is getting a new building. The 141,000 sq. ft. (13,099 sq m) school facility will include parking lots and athletic fields, including baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, football, and seven tennis courts.
The project, which began in October 2014 with an anticipated completion date of September 2016, also includes the installation of culverts and a pedestrian bridge for crossing the Indian River, which passes through the site. The culvert, which is about 20 ft. wide and 50 ft. long (6 by 15 m), also will be the spot for water and gas utilities to be brought into the site. Beneath the tennis courts is a massive leach field.
The site was previously the home of what was once known as the Clinton Nursery, a wholesale nursery operation that was well known in the area. Three pre-existing homes on the site were demolished.
But before the books and desks are brought in and before students can show up for class, $8 million of site work must be performed.
The building site is a 41-acre site with 36,000 cu. yd. (27,524 cu m) of material that will be moved on site, most of which is being reutilized in other areas of the site. Only about 25,000 cu. yd. (19,114 cu m) of outside material is being brought in to the site, which is primarily aggregate material.
Clearing the Way With Komatsu
Richards Corporation, Terryville, Conn., purchased a Komatsu D51PXi dozer with a fully integrated, factory installed GPS system from East PBE specifically for this project.
“We have been using GPS for some time to map out our construction site,” said Marc Young, site superintendent. “This technology has been very helpful to us in that once we did our layout we no longer have the need for land surveyors on the site. This has been a tremendous savings of time and expense for us, in not having the surveyors return each day to stake and layout the site.”
For this project, Richards was ready to take the GPS technology to the next level. The company uploaded the map of the site directly to the bulldozers and allowed the GPS technology to actually take over the controls of the bulldozer and allow the operators to hit an exact grade with each pass of the bulldozer.
“We knew that this type of technology is extremely precise and this type of job would lend itself very well to this technology. We are dealing with a very light material that does not contain a lot of large stone. These types of conditions we knew would allow us to get ultimate return in this type of technology.
“The technology that is available today is astounding. You can create a 3-D map of your proposed finished site, put it on a thumb drive, plug the thumb drive into your equipment, and let the GPS unit take over the controls of your machine, eliminating the daily staking out ritual of the site.
“These machines roll out of the factory ready to have the mapping of your job site uploaded and go to work. There are no cables in between the machine and the blade, no bulky GPS mast attached to the blade that could easily be damaged or vandalized, no daily connections required between the machine and the blade. The machine was intelligently designed from the ground up to operate the world’s cutting edge grading technology.
Designed for Comfort
It was not just the technology that made the Komatsu stand out for Richards. The entire machine had been designed to improve operator comfort and visibility, including moving the radiator from the front of the machine to the rear of the machine in an effort to increase blade visibility. The cab was moved far forward, directly above the blade so that the operator can at all times see the top and the bottom of the blade and the exhaust stack has been moved so it no longer comes into the field of vision for the operator at all, according to Young.
“The machine is equipped with four operating modes to provide ideal efficiency in all types of weather and soil conditions. Within a very short period of time our operators were completely comfortable with the machine. In all reality the machine’s operation was dramatically easier than it had ever been before. The GPS takes over all of the movement of the blade. All potential directional movement of the blade [up, down, left, right, tilts, etc.] is controlled by the intelligence center of the machine, giving you exactly the grade you are looking for, usually in a single pass of the machine.”
Various sensors are located around the machine that constantly sends data to the dozer to enhance its operation. If the load on the blade gets heavy the torque through the hydrostatic drive system is increased without the operator having to make any adjustments to the throttle. If either side of the blade picks up a heavier load the tracks adjust, keeping the machine moving in a straight line, according to Young.
“All of these features add up to our operator being able to hit the desired grade in a single pass of the dozer, dramatically increasing the efficiency of both the operator and the dozer. The accuracy of the grade is exact. We have yet to have the need to do a do-over.”
“Our production levels have actually doubled. The second week on the job the Komatsu D51 boxed out a 51,000 square foot parking lot to subgrade with an approximately 4-foot cut. There were islands in the parking lot with a 60 percent grade. The dozer effortlessly hit those grades and shaped out the islands perfectly without any layout or staking. After the lot was subgraded, the Komatsu D51 placed a 1-foot layer of stone. This involved 1,900 yards of stone installed to a perfect grade without the use of staking.”
East PBE, Richards’ Komatsu dealer, has been a key part of the process.
“East PBE has been very involved from day one in getting us acclimated to the machine. They were here on the job site giving our people training and have been available to us by phone any time needed. They do whatever it takes to make sure we understand the equipment we get from them. Whether it be a purchase or a rental their attention to us as a customer is always there,” Young said.