Smith’s (Gloucester) Ltd has completed a major fleet technology transformation in a ‘Game Changing’ double deal with Caterpillar dealer Finning UK & Ireland and Trimble dealer SITECH UK & Ireland.
The new deal sees Smiths invest in 110 Caterpillar machines, whilst making a major transition from Laser, to 3D GPS enabled surveying and machine control technology, through a fleet of new Trimble enabled equipment. The new machine control fleet includes two Cat D5K2 Dozers, a D6T LGP Dozer and the retrofitting of three existing Caterpillar excavators. Complete with Trimble GCS900 machine control systems, the deal allows the business to operate a fully 3D machine controlled fleet, for a whole range of contracts.
The new machines will receive RTK corrections through the Trimble SPS855 base station and two-way live data transfer via the online Trimble Connected Community. Engineers from Smiths will use Trimble Business Centre software to design and manage earthworks models for each project.
Commenting on the deal, Paul Smith of Smiths said: “As a business, over the last 12 months we have seen a major growth in the use and specification of Digital Construction technologies. With larger projects in particular now driven by Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology, we recognised that in order to stay competitive, we needed to adopt the latest equipment solutions and in particular 3D machine control. Staying competitive is everything in this industry, so when you find yourself competing with a legacy system that is much more costly, in comparison to the latest state-of-the-art 3D technology used by others, you simply can’t win the work. But equally, before you try and make the changes you need, you have to ensure you have the most important part right and that is the people to manage what is a major cultural and commercial decision. This is why we involved operators, managers and engineers in the specification of the Trimble and Caterpillar led solution we chose to go with.
We were able to some of our team to a demonstration day at the Caterpillar facility in Desford, where they tried out machines fitted with the Trimble technology. It was this hands on opportunity that really gave us the confidence in both the systems and support we needed to make the change. With our engineers and surveyors, we were able to learn how to produce 3D models from customer data. This included being able to see how the Trimble Surface Tools module could be used to look at cut/fill analysis and calculate volumes.
The second part of the training involved using the Data Prep module, converting 2D drawings to 3D models ready for use on the machines. Here we were shown how to combine the calculations and models produced and how to export the data. Having all of this information, our team then got to use a GCS900 simulator, which the data was imported into to verify their models were correct. This simply showed the team how each phase worked and gave them practical experience.
We are now a couple almost 6 months into the change over and thanks to the purchase of some high end gaming laptops, our engineers are able to operate either at head office or onsite, using Trimble Business Centre. They feed information into a modular base station and send and receive data from a rover and connected equipment onsite, using and Trimble Connected Community.
In total two Cat D5K2 dozers, a D6N dozer and three excavators have been fitted with Trimble ready kits, all using the GNSS GCS900 machine control system. Thanks to our operators that have really embraced the technology, we are now much more competitive. So even though it was a big decision to end our relationship with laser, we haven’t looked back. With our first projects already complete, we have managed to completely change our approach to the way we operate our business in a matter of months.”
The new 110 strong Caterpillar fleet includes 95 excavators (2 x Cat 300.9D, 4 x Cat 301.4C, 6 x Cat 302.7D, 12 x Cat 305E2, 31 x Cat 308E2, 14 x Cat 312E, 5 x 313F HAM, 3 x 313FL GC, 5 x 314DL, 11 x 320EL, 2 x 320FL) 1 x 432F backhoe, 10 x CB24B rollers, 2 x D6N LGP dozers, 2 x D6T LGP dozers.