By Steve Rizer
Leica Geosystems General Manager Craig Martin, who last week helped lead a discussion about automated GPS machine control systems for construction projects at the CONEXPO-CON/AGC conference in Las Vegas, has some important advice for contractors: evaluate all of the pros and cons before trying to make older equipment work with new equipment.
“We know that as the markets start to recover, many customers want to still get some use out of their older equipment and at the same time start to add some new equipment to their fleets,” Martin told ConstructionPro Week after participating in “Automated Grade Control GPS,” one of the conference sessions featuring a roundtable discussion. “However, problems can occur when you try to make some equipment that is too old work with newer equipment. Even if you can ‘make it work,’ it can be counter-productive if the technology is too old to keep up with the new technology.”
Martin stressed that “it is extremely important” for contractors to have a trusted relationship with a local expert to help them make decisions about such equipment.
Another hot topic of discussion at the session addressed the compatibility of different brands of equipment. Many attendees “asked whether brand ‘X’ would work with brand ‘Y’ on a construction site,” Martin reported. “Just as many different brands of iron can be found on the same site, more and more, contractors are using different brands of machine control equipment or positioning equipment. Unfortunately, the contractor is often put in the position of making these different brands of equipment work together. This can be a very difficult and time-consuming process for someone who is inexperienced. It can also lead to misconceptions that a contractor must use one brand of equipment. Some manufacturers’ representatives even promote or, in some ways, compound” such a misconception.
If there were a universal set of protocols for radio, GPS, and localization configurations, Martin believes “the contractor would spend less time configuring equipment and more time being productive with the equipment…. To meet the needs of the contractors, manufacturers should take the time to develop and adopt more universal communication protocols.”
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article includes coverage of the industry's new agreement on telematics data, a session addressing the future of technology in construction, and an expert's plea for wider adoption of lean construction.