The use of machine control in construction projects is becoming more widespread, with automation driving the industry forward. Automating machinery on job sites allows the work to be completed quicker, more accurately, with less fuel, and with fewer people.
Alongside the launch of new products for this industry, our experts explore machine control and the importance of automation in the future of the construction industry.
Understanding Machine Control
Machine control involves hardware and software solutions developed to determine a machine’s current position on the earth and compare it with the desired design surface.
The accurate positioning of machinery is achieved with data from satellites and 3D models. Satellites in the outer atmosphere triangulate with one another to generate a digital map of the construction site, sending a signal down to the site itself. Using multiple positioning sensors and a display, machine control gives operators a clear reference between the position of the machine bucket or blade and the design surface.
Without machine control, surveyors have to manually check grade and position the machinery. This process is less accurate, time-consuming and has a higher safety risk due to the surveyors ’s close proximity to the machine. Development first began with the introduction of 2D technology as it gave operators access to a simple visual guide.
Future of Automated Machine Control
Fast forward to the present day and the construction industry is facing challenges, with a lack of new talent entering the industry forcing a focus and reliance on automated machine control.
Automated machine control goes beyond providing operators with a visual guide to bucket or blade positions, as it controls the blade to grade by communicating with the machine’s hydraulics. Accuracy and speed are solely dependent on the technology, allowing less skilled operators to operate the machinery.
Research from Topcon reveals that contractors are in no way strangers to machine control, with 97% of respondents using automation in some capacity. However, just under half (46%) are using it on less than a quarter of their projects. This would suggest that for many, their experience and understanding of machine control is still in its infancy or confined to certain types of projects or applications.
But automation is just the first step. Looking further into the future, automated machine control will not only involve the angle and depth, but the entire excavation process – improving productivity across the entire construction workflow.
In October 2023, RDS MME launched three new products that save operators time, money, and fuel due to the technology’s improved accuracy and enhanced performance.
The MC-Max Dozer optimises your bulldozer, with rough and fine grading solutions in 2D and 3D. The MC-Max Excavator improves mass excavator productivity, allowing your excavator to be part surveyor, part operator and part grade checker. Finally, Sitelink3D v2 is a secure data centre providing site-wide data synchronisation between all site’s machines and users on a pay-by-the-day basis.