Levelled out: Aerial Data Provides Ground-Based Advantage on rail Crossing Removal Program

Customer Profile: Founded in 1961, McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd is a leading infrastructure contractor in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. With headquarters in Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, the company is best known for its large-scale projects that include roads and bridges, pipelines and railroad assets.

Business Challenge: Develop a collaborative workflow to safely and efficiently complete railroad crossing removals and complete the construction of associated infrastructure.


  • Trimble Stratus
  • Propeller PPK
  • DJI Phantom4 RTK


  • Faster, safer site survey
  • Greater transparency with stakeholders/client
  • Improved visibility into project progress

Australian infrastructure contractor McConnell Dowell has built some of the most challenging roads, rails, dams, pipelines, marine assets, and other infrastructure in Australia, New Zealand, and Southern Asia. The company’s success is largely due to its structured approach to every build, combined with creativity and progressive thinking.

McConnell Dowell strives to continuously improve its processes, often with help from technology. That’s especially true on the company’s latest endeavor, the Level Crossing Removal Program (LXRP). This multi-year program was established by the Victorian Government to oversee one of the largest rail infrastructure projects in the state's history.

The goal is to eliminate 75 level (or flat) rail crossings across metropolitan Melbourne by 2025. Each crossing also includes other rail network upgrades, such as new train stations, track duplication, and train stabling yards. Removing level crossings will improve safety, reduce congestion, improve travel time reliability and increase train operation capacity.

As part of the Western Program Alliance (WPA), which also includes Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Metro Trains Melbourne, McConnell Dowell is charged with removing and renovating a set number of the crossings. To date, the alliance has completed six of the crossing projects and is currently working on another four.

Michael Mongan, Project Director with McConnell Dowell, says, “There are many day-to-day challenges on these sites, as they are typically very large, in some cases upwards of 6km long. And we’re working within an operational light rail environment, so trains are flying by at 100km an hour. In the early days, a lot of the communication was happening via photography or just verbally delivered.”

“Just surveying the individual project sites was a challenge,” adds John Dyer, Engineering Manager with WPA. “Even the best surveyor in the world might only survey on five- or 10-meter grids, so we would only get a snapshot of that particular point or area, which then had to be interpolated on a 2D drawing. We needed a way to survey the whole site quickly to provide a timely resource for optimal collaboration and project management.”

McConnell Dowell looked to drone-enabled solutions. After evaluating several platforms, the company selected Trimble Stratus, powered by Propeller—and put it to work.

Australian businesses working together to keep improving safety

Best of Breed innovation between Webbair and SITECH Construction Systems has produced a ground-breaking Dynamic 3D Motion Control System (SMC)

Webbair together with SITECH Construction Systems has produced a ground-breaking Dynamic 3D Motion Control System (SMC) thanks to extensive field testing and collaboration with Winslow Constructors. Most importantly, this technology is ready to go and is currently being rolled out on worksites.

This Best of Breed innovation is the direct result of industry collaboration between key Australian industry businesses who each have a commitment towards increased safety through continuous improvement. Together they have created a tangible innovative response to an industry need that is unparalleled in the construction sector.  In their continued pursuit of excellence, Winslow Constructors dedicated both machinery and personnel to facilitate extensive field-based trials by creating mock-sites. This ensured on-hand expertise was available and real-life scenarios were considered with the technology being rigorously verified.

Winslow are industry leaders in the civil construction space and having the SMC solution in their stable shows their commitment to innovation and safety whilst maintaining productivity and efficiency.

“Adding this type of engineering control to our existing set of Safety Controls and Procedures (alongside our best-in-industry locating, exposing, mapping and modelling capabilities), will set us apart from the competition.  It will significantly help us on our journey to continually improve safety.”

(Hugh Peck - General Manager Winslow Group Services).

Webbair Engineering Director Peter Stanley had this to say about the project.  “An SMC type satellite-based 3D control system has been the Holy Grail for safety conscious companies for several years now. The project has thrown more than a few engineering roadblocks in our path and it’s very satisfying to finally see a product ready to go to market.”


The SMC system takes 3D motion control to the next level, providing full failsafe systems, dynamic in-field definitions of restriction zones, supervisor key lockout and is fully compliant in the rail industry based on the base motion control system which is already currently used by Tier 1 companies and rail providers nationwide. Using Webbair’s thorough knowledge and expertise of motion control requirements, this system ensures that no stone is left unturned and implements a safety-first procedure with true “proportional” machine control.  Combining the industry recognised PME motion control systems and the Trimble Earthworks machine guidance solution means the system is built on proven technology and brings with it the respective productivity and safety benefits.

The SMC system will deliver robust engineering controls to keep machines out of any pre-defined high-risk areas and significantly reduce risk of sub surface service strikes that are extremely costly in both money and time.  Allowing for the operator or supervisor to add in any new hazards or high-risk areas on the fly without requiring them to be defined digitally is potentially one of the biggest benefits of the system which was demanded from the market at the start of the due diligence phase.

Joe Lloyd from SITECH CS has been on the journey with Webbair from concept to completion and is incredibly satisfied with the result.  “From the initial engagement with Webbair to signing the MoU, we have had a strong focus on delivering a real dynamic and flexible system that meets the requirements discovered during our due diligence process.  One of the key elements to the design of the system was utilising the Webbair PME system to allow for dynamic limits to be entered manually in the field and locked by the supervisor.  Having this functionality was imperative to keeping machines working under protection when new hazards were identified in the field.  We are extremely pleased to be able to deliver this unsurpassed 3D motion control system to market.  We would like to acknowledge the team at Winslow Constructors for their part in this success.  Allowing us to rigorously beta test the system for the past 4 months in the real world was a real commitment from them, showing a dedication to improving and innovating in the safety space”.

Why the SMC Solution

The PME400ME Component has the following features:

  • Full smart height limiting with ground reference sensors.
  • Slew limiting fully adjustable limits from cab.
  • Full virtual walls
  • Corridor setup and limitations
  • Maximum radius
  • Cabin protection, minimum radius
  • Dig depth control
  • 3 colour touch screen
  • custom motion cut valves with emergency override facilities.
  • Supervisors key switch

Motion cut is provided to the following movements:

  • Boom Up
  • Boom Down
  • Arm In
  • Arm Out.
  • Slew Left
  • Slew Right
  • Blade Down (On Limitation where applicable)

The SMC Dynamic Control Section has features which takes information from both the Trimble 3D Earthworks system and the PME system and then implements the appropriate motion control lockouts avoiding strikes.  Importantly, it also allows dynamic limits to be added manually in the field if new obstacles are identified that are not included in the design file, this is imperative to keep the machine working and enable flexibility whilst reducing down-time.

Live Limitations that are setup in the digital design files: These limitations, or no-go zones, are predetermined at the planning stage of a site or added along the way as the site works progress. Obstacles such as power lines, bridges, buildings, geofences, underground telecommunications, gas lines, and electrical lines can all be built into the file and as the machine moves around the site it will be continually monitored through GPS and motion controlled to stop the machine from hitting any of the above.

The applications for such ground-breaking technology are endless and never has there been a solution for machines to be aided in control within the working environment from the planning stage right through to the completion of the project.

The SMC system provides the following features and benefits, all of which means the machine works as and the operator is always protected by the system ore readily aware when protection is less accurate.

  • Dynamically add limits in the field in real time; the system is not wholly reliant on updated digital designs being supplied. There is no need to wait for new digital designs to keep working under protection. Hence field employees are given with the full flexibility to adapt based on data received, whilst maintaining protection and maximising production times.
  • Fully proportional valve control means that the machines hydraulics are protected reducing wear and tear on the machine and the operator is truly safe in his seat without the risk of jolting or sudden unexpected movements.
  • Stops only the motion of travel that caused the alarm and allows that to be reversed immediately to come out of the danger zone. It does not lock up the whole machine or make the operator wait until he can remove himself from danger to be safe.
  • Full redundancy and manual override facility to ensure operator safety protection and ability move away from danger immediately.
  • Full fail-safe system with machine locking out with loss of accurate positional GPS data or any software crashes. This means the operator is confident he is protected all the times without having to focus on a screen and can’t miss a visual warning that could mean he is many metres out of position and allow him to breach exclusion zones.
  • Logging of alarm events for historical QA and safety incident reporting.


Watch this space for the upcoming official product release.

Contact 1800 748 324 for more information.

Trimble Introduces the Next Generation of 3D Paving Control for Pavers


Trimble has recently introduced the Trimble® Roadworks 3D Paving Control Platform for Pavers, the next-generation platform for 3D paving control systems. Trimble Roadworks is a highly accurate, automatic 3D screed control system that can significantly improve paving productivity and rideability by directly referencing the design rather than a surface or stringline to minimise usage, reduce waste and overruns and finish projects on time and under budget.

When used with a traditional paving machine with a tractor and hydraulically controlled floating screed with a supported 2D system, Trimble Roadworks can be used to place any variety of materials, including hot asphalt, cold recycled asphalt, road base, gravel, concrete treated base, sand or any other paving material.

Intuitive Software, Flexible Hardware

The Android-based application runs on the 10-inch (25.7 centimetre) touch-screen Trimble TD520 Display. Trimble Roadworks software has a familiar interface for Trimble users, designed for operator efficiency. Colourful graphics, natural interactions and gestures, and self-discovery features make the software intuitive and easy to learn. Each operator can personalise the interface to match their workflow; configurable views make it easier to see the right perspective for maximum productivity. State-of-the-art software and hardware give operators of all skill levels the ability to work faster and more productively than ever before.

Trimble Roadworks leverages Trimble's proven system hardware, rugged and durable for tough paving conditions. By design, utilising components from Trimble Earthworks increases the portability of the hardware and increases return on investment. Using the Android operating system, users can also download other third-party applications that provide the operator with additional useful tools inside the cab.

"Trimble Roadworks is easy to learn and more accessible for many different types of contractors because it leverages the intuitive Trimble machine control interface and applies it to pavers," said Kevin Garcia, general manager for Trimble Civil Construction Specialty Solutions. "This platform also makes it possible to include Trimble's industry-leading paving technology as part of a connected site ecosystem of solutions, which is valuable for complex infrastructure projects."



Office-to-field connectivity reduces waste and overruns with efficient communication and data transferring across the project. Using a Trimble SNM941 Connected Site® Gateway, Trimble Roadworks allows the transfer of 3D designs from the office to the machine via the cloud so that the operator is always using the latest design. In addition, productivity data collected from the machine is automatically synced back to the office.



Trimble Roadworks 3D Paving Control Platform for Pavers is now available through your local SITECH Construction Systems. For more information, call 1800 SITECH (1800 748 324).

2D Grade Control System reshapes Leading Edge Earthmoving’s productivity

Customer Profile

Founded in 2017, Leading Edge Earthmoving is a Victoria, Australia-based earthmoving company specialising in final trim grading and excavation.

Business Challenge

Minimise the need to get in and out of machines to check levels on the job.

  • Trimble® Earthworks Grade Control Platform for Excavators
  • Trimble LC450 Laser Catcher
  • Spectra Precision Grade Laser

  • 1-2 hours a day in time savings
  • Improved fuel efficiency
  • Assured quality

For Rick Gossow, big machines and earthmoving are both his profession and his passion. He’s been working in civil construction since he was 19 years old, largely as an operator on graders and excavators.

When work for others took him too far from home and family, he decided it was time to start his own business. Building on his 14 years of experience, he formed Leading Edge Earthmoving in Victoria, Australia in 2017. He bought a Cat 304E excavator and focused on final trim grading and excavation for commercial and residential projects.

Over the course of three years, he’s built a strong, steady business, but continued to seek ways to improve quality and efficiency for his customers. He confirms, “I’m a one-man operation, so I’m always looking for affordable ways to drive productivity. This is a very competitive market segment. Anything that gives me an edge, saves me time and saves my clients money is invaluable.”

In particular, he noticed that he spent a lot of time getting in and out of the cab to check levels throughout the day. “I do a lot of small, private jobs and I was losing on average one to two hours a day checking levels,” says Gossow. “Not only am I losing time, but I’m burning fuel since the machine is just running. Losing just ten minutes of operation checking levels ten times a day adds up fast.”

He’d seen a lot of technology advancement, including 2D and 3D machine control, during his time on the road working for other contractors, so I knew there were tools that could automate leveling right from the cab, he says.

Laser Focused

He called Shane Wright, Sales Consultant at SITECH Construction Systems in Melbourne, Australia, to ask about a machine mounted laser receiver.

His response was not what Gossow expected. “He said I should look at the Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform for Excavators system instead,” said Gossow. “I had experience with 3D grade control systems in the past but knew those were not within my budget. But, Shane said the 2D capabilities would solve my leveling issues while providing additional benefit.”

Not only was the price right, but the grade control platform runs on a Trimble TD510 7” Touch Display. Gossow is also using the Trimble LC450 Laser Catcher fitted on the 2D Earthworks system with a Spectra Precision Grade Laser for consistent cross-site elevation benching.

“Once he sent the specs and pricing [about the 2D Earthworks], I was onboard,” said Gossow, who signed the purchase order the very next day and soon after, became the first contractor in Victoria to deploy the Trimble Earthworks 2D system.


On the Job

Currently, Gossow is using the 2D capabilities of the system on his Cat 304E excavator. The first opportunity to use the system was to dig a trench to prevent rainwater from flooding a client’s home and farm buildings. He followed up with a pad finish project for a farm storage unit and the finishing of a surface in preparation for a concrete pour.

“There are still certain features and functionality that I’m learning,” he said. “But, I know I’m more efficient, saving several hours in a day by staying focused on the job in the cab, and I’m more accurate. For everything I’ve used it on thus far, it’s awesome!”

Leading Edge Earthmoving’s experiences are attracting the attention of other small and midsize earthwork contractors in the area. Demolition contractor TerraFirma Excavations in Victoria, Australia has also adopted the Trimble Earthworks 2D system as well as the Spectra Precision Grade Laser to improve productivity and efficiency.

BTW Company, LTD. Uses Augmented Reality to Accelerate the Project Approval Process

Already longtime Trimble customers BTW chose Trimble SiteVision as the tool that could help them bring the power of augmented reality (AR) into their planning processes. BTW saw AR as a technology that would allow them to present an accurate future view of a project overlaid onto the actual construction site. By viewing the proposed project on-site in an augmented reality view with stakeholders, they could communicate the project concept and design phase more effectively. They could also help stakeholders gain a far better understanding of the finished result and the potential effects on the surrounding environment.