Technology can play a key role in promoting and advancing environmental sustainability when used in the civil construction and earthworks industries. When worksites function efficiently, projects not only stay on track with fewer mistakes, they also produce less waste, creating a more environmentally friendly construction process.
As every aspect of construction—from sourcing raw materials to carbon emissions produced by machines moving on jobsites—impacts the planet, more companies are turning to advanced earthworks technology and connectivity solutions to improve productivity and increase efficiency through real-time collaboration and workflow optimization, which can enable them to tread more lightly and efficiently on the environment.
Hoffman Bros., Inc., a leading heavy civil contractor in Michigan and Indiana, is one company that has made technology as standard as its fleet of heavy equipment. Considered a regional leader in implementing construction technology, the Battle Creek, Michigan-based company’s extensive success in large and complex earthworks and infrastructure projects is due in part to its emphasis on continuous improvement in processes, with considerable help from technology.
That company “growth mindset” has been particularly valuable for the Michigan Department of Transportation’s $210 million I-69 Rebuild Project in Eaton and Calhoun Counties, a complex undertaking for which Hoffman Bros is the earthworks contractor. The three-year project includes the reconstruction of about 23 miles of rural, four-lane interstate, as well as improvements to ramps and roadways and a number of bridge rehabilitations along the corridor.
The first phase of the I-69 Rebuild project, completed in 2021, included a nine mile rebuild of the northbound and southbound sides of an interstate section as well as reconstruction of two interchanges.
Dave Bell, Project Manager for Hoffman Bros., said, “We’ve been on some massive earthwork jobs that required a lot of our fleet—but usually our equipment is not spread across nine miles in a linear fashion. For this job, we needed to rethink how we developed our technology-enabled connections if we were going to meet the fast-paced and ever-changing design-build workflow.”
Integral to that workflow is machine control. Today, much of Hoffman Bros. fleet of equipment, particularly excavators, graders and dozers, is outfitted with Trimble® GCS900 Grade Control System and the Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform, which give earthworks teams design surfaces, grades and alignments inside the cab and real-time, precise machine positioning down to the centimeter. These solutions not only reduce the risk of earthmoving overages and unintended damage to buried infrastructure, they also make worksites more efficient and promote sustainability by reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through excess fuel burn.
For the first phase of the I-69 job, Hoffman Bros had about 15 pieces of 3D machine-controlled equipment on the job at any given time. However, although the versatility of their machines could work efficiently in a variety of different applications, the long, linear project corridor challenged Bell to provide model designs to the machines in a timely manner––conventional GNSS connectivity would require multiple radio base station setups across the entire project.
To resolve this, the company worked with local Trimble dealer SITECH Michigan to adopt Trimble’s Internet Base Station Services (IBSS), a solution that broadcasts Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) corrections from the base station over the internet, delivering highly accurate GNSS for site positioning and machine control at a low cost.
Having a flexible, accurate, and seamless connectivity platform not only enabled Hoffman Bros to keep all its moving parts on track, improve worker safety and eliminate inefficiencies, it helped the company complete the first earthworks phase for the I-69 project on time and on budget.
And as the I-69 Rebuild project continues in 2022 with work on phase two, a 12-mile stretch of the corridor on the northbound side, Hoffman Bros has continued to look for ways to enhance and improve its workflow with other advancements such as Trimble SiteVision system, an augmented reality solution that enables project teams to see spatial data in a real-world context.
“In today’s highly competitive environment, it’s essential that we provide our people with the best possible tools to deliver jobs,” said Bell.
Indeed, with targeted technology Hoffman Bros is sustaining productive worksites with sustainable construction techniques.
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