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Topcon Control Systems Help Curb Costs on Jobs Both Big and Small

Sat July 29, 2000 - West Edition
Cathy Bell

Automatic grade and slope control systems are catching on because of the rising cost of construction, said Rick Dolan, machine control and laser specialist, Surveyors Instrument Company in Houston, TX.. But he wants to dispel a myth. “Everyone thinks they have to have a big job to use these devices and that’s not correct,” he said. “They will make money for you on the small jobs, even parking lots and building pads.”

Surveyors is the southeast Texas dealer for Topcon Laser Systems Inc., a manufacturer of laser and machine control products. Dolan said the Topcon Grader System Four offers the most advanced grader control system available, and along with Surveyors’ factory trained sales and service people, they can get the job done right the first time. Surveyors’ also offers on-the-job training and service for its customers.

Topcon’s Grader System Four can double finished grade production, according to Dolan. It allows the operator to do fine grades in second or third gear and finish in one or two passes, rather than three or four. And Dolan said System Five turns the grade checker into an inspector because there are no cut-and-fill corrections to mark and re-cut.

System Four consists of an on-board control box, four sensors and an all new “High Flow” hydraulic valve package. “It’s the most advanced proportional valve interface available and offers the smoothest valve adjustments,” said Dolan. Topcon was the first in the industry to use proportional valves, according to Dolan.

The control box, sensors and hydraulics work together to determine the blade’s position and generate correction signals to keep the blade on grade. The operator uses the control box to enter the desired elevation and slope that System Four will maintain. When the machine begins grading, information from each of the four sensors is sent to the control box where it’s compared to the desired grade entered by the operator. The control box then sends out correction signals to the hydraulic valves to move the blade to exact grade.

“System Four keeps costs under control by tightening your tolerances and by cutting consistent, uniform grades,” said Dolan. He said the system also reduces engineering costs by eliminating bluetops as a reference. “Sonic trackers can track a curb, existing pavement, lath or stringline,” said Dolan. “It has a unique ’trackerjack’ laser receiving unit that tracks a laser reference, and a sonic stringline can be set up in minutes by just one person.”

The trackerjack laser receiver can produce accurate adjustments in the laser receiver position right from the cab. It’s placed on a mounting pole made of vibration-absorbing materials to reduce the effect of machine vibration on accuracy and can be easily mounted and removed and comes with its own carrying case.

Dolan said the system is easy to use and requires little training. Controls are sensible and simple and feature a highly visible display of the slope or elevation for each side of the blade. And a reference guide is built into the control box lid. Dolan said its cross slope features are also easy to use.

“It’s got the industry’s best calibration system,” said Dolan, “In-cab calibration can be done right on the job in less than five minutes, and the trim mode calibration allows for quick, precise corrections that save daily wear on the cutting edge. Contractors are reaping the benefits of this system.”

In addition to the Grader System Four, Topcon also manufactures the Motorgrader System Five, which is the company’s latest upgrade for its motorgrader control system. The company’s other products include the AG System Five, which automates field survey and land leveling. The Profiler System Four provides grade and slope control for pavement profilers, while the Paver System Four and Smoothtrac offers grade control for asphalt pavers. The Excavator Touch Series 5 provides automatic slope and depth control for excavators.

For more information on any Topcon product, call Surveyors Instrument Company Inc. at 713/659-3710.

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