Construction firms that adopt advanced technology enjoy a competitive advantage through improved resource utilization and design compliance, translating into cost and time savings. With the latest machine control, 3D design, and project monitoring and reporting technology, contractors have tools on hand that communicate project specifications directly to machines and monitor progress in near-real time.
The combined benefits of connected construction technology, such as using less fuel, reducing emissions, and minimizing errors and time-consuming rework, support the growing demand for sustainability and environmental responsibility on building and infrastructure sites.
MJ Church is a medium-sized civil engineering contractor with a modern fleet of about 170 machines and more than 200 vehicles in South West England. The company prides itself on a passion for new and innovative technologies that play an integral role in its daily operations.
A landmark project for MJ Church is the Visual Impact Provision project in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The firm was tasked with the restoration of this site to its former glory, which involved the removal of 400kV overhead power towers to improve the visual appeal of the area. The power needed to be diverted to underground cables nestled in ducts in 4 trenches of 8.5 kilometers each.
MJ Church put all its technology and knowledge to work to obtain the desired results despite numerous terrain challenges. Several connected solutions were utilized to optimize uptime and efficiency for the machine-controlled fleet and to report as-built and volume progress information based on machine-logged data.
Sam Williams is an engineering surveyor at MJ Church; along with manager Stuart Harry, Williams leads many of the contractor’s efforts to stay at the forefront of technological developments. “Machine control is the future, and we want to be at the right side of the future,” says Williams. “We start every project with the intent of putting machine control in, as we know that will lead to the greatest efficiency possible.”
This restoration project started with a topographical survey of the terrain for the full 8.5 kilometer corridor, captured mainly by Trimble® GNSS Site Positioning Systems and total stations. The survey data was imported into Trimble Business Center and combined with the 2D designs provided by the project’s main contractor. 3D models of the trenches were created with the advanced corridor modeling tools in Trimble Business Center for input into the machine control systems.
For MJ Church one of the primary objectives of the Dorset project was to show that the Trimble Grade Control Platform can be used to verify they are digging to the correct grade and depth, in compliance with the design specifications. Jobsite connectivity, together with Trimble Business Center, also provides the exact volume data by continually tracking topsoil removed and stockpiled. However, the biggest advantage might be the safety aspect. As the surveyors are not allowed to climb into the trenches to capture an as-built, they can now confidently use the data from the machines.
“All this means that we’re working safely, keeping costs under control, maximizing efficiency in the field and in the office, and ensuring there will be no surprises at the end of the project—no rework,” Williams concludes.