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Topcon Draws More Than 170 Attendees to Sacaton

Fri June 12, 2009 - West Edition
Mary Reed

John Deere’s new 764 High-Speed Dozer (HSD) fitted with Topcon Positioning System’s 3D-MC2 machine control was introduced to more than 170 attendees at Deere’s March 2009 Fleet Smart gathering in Sacaton, Ariz.

The new 764 is a rubber tired, quad track earthmover that combines the speed of a motorgrader and the flotation of a crawler dozer. Demonstrations showed the combination of the new 764 with the advanced 3D-MC2 machine-control system cutting grade twice as fast as a similarly sized crawler dozer.

The 3D-MC2 measures the blade’s position a hundred times per second, or some five times faster than any other 3-D GPS system, according to the manufacturer.

Tony Vanneman, construction products marketing manager at Livermore, Calif., based Topcon Positioning Systems Inc., described the collaboration between the two companies as “very exciting.”

With integrated grade controls, the heavy equipment manufacturer has made it simple for customers to add GNSS-based control systems to the machinery.

The Global Navigation Satellite System or GNSS is comprised of the U.S.-based GPS satellite system and GLONASS, its Russian equivalent. Sister systems that will be coming online are the European Union’s Galileo and Compass, operated by the Chinese.

“Deere motorgraders and crawler dozers can be equipped with IGC. The machines are fitted with the mounting brackets, cables and hydraulic valves at the factory. The customer can then easily add the Topcon components to the machine,” Vanneman explained. “This is the world’s fastest dozer, with twice the speed of those fitted with normal GPS. It’s almost a hybrid, a cross between a motorgrader and dozer.”

Since the machine has only just been introduced and is not yet in production, interested contractors who did not attend the Deere event may wonder how difficult it is to operate.

RJS Construction Group LLC, is a general contractor based in Superior, Wis. It undertakes building and heavy highway projects in the northern areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota, offering its clients site development, sewer, water and grading services, underground utilities and landfills.

RJS Vice President Dave Lemke, who attended the Deere gathering and tested the dozer personally, likened its handling at full load as akin to that of a passenger car.

“Todd Johnson, our CEO, and myself spent a lot of time looking at and operating the JD HSD 764. We were impressed at its ease of operation,” Lemke said. “After only a couple of minutes of instruction by the product consultant, we were off and running. We also liked the Topcon 3D-MC2 equipment.”

Lemke thought the types of projects that would benefit from the new dozer were endless.

“We have a 150 to 200 mile radius for heavy highway work,” he commented, “and this combo, with its capability to push like a dozer and fine grade like a grader, could save the number of machines placed on a project, therefore reducing the number of lowboy trips. That will save money.”

“We’re a diverse company with a short season and we don’t really have the market where we have repeat-type projects, so we need to be versatile and adapt to markets,” Lemke continued. “This dozer is versatile and will adapt to any type of job, whether it’s a city street or a rural road or a landfill.”

One particular project Lemke thought would have gained advantages from the greater speed and accuracy made possible by the Deere-Topcon collaborative effort is the 5.7-mi. (9.17 km) railway spur the company is building near Grand Rapids, Minn. The job involves excavating more than 2 million cu. yd. (1,529,091 cu m) and 40 ft (12 m) cuts and back slope fills.

He also mentioned a 2008 job in Ashland, Wis., that would have benefited from the use of this particular model. “With some intersections on the side streets, our motor grader was too large to get in and effectively do them,” he recalled. “So a dozer of this kind would give us a turn-on-a-dime-type piece of equipment for those tight spots.”

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