Training Leader Looks to Fill the Technology Gap on Heavy Equipment

As a company that prides itself on adapting to the needs of students and employers, Major Training Group, one of Australia’s oldest registered training organisations, is pushing the boundaries again.

Since its founding in 1998, Major Training has supported the construction industry by providing training and certification services to individuals and companies across Queensland, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich, and The Gold Coast. Heavy equipment ticketing is a large part of its services, with training on excavators, front-end loaders, dozers, graders, backhoes, skid steers, and compact track loaders.

In partnership with Trimble and SITECH, the Trimble authorised dealer, Major Training is expanding its comprehensive training and certification curriculum to include technology, specifically the GNSS-enabled navigation and control of heavy machinery.

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.

Solutions:

  • Trimble Stratus
  • Propeller PPK
  • DJI Phantom4 RTK

Benefits:

  • 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.

COVID-19

Uncertainty and risk. Two words most of our customers seek to avoid. Amidst all the news regarding COVID-19 and Coronavirus, we stand committed to being here for you and keeping our solutions available throughout these difficult times. We are open for business.

We’ve heard from some customers that they are also implementing work from home strategies and are developing processes to continue working on projects during this crisis. Our first priority remains the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and the community. Another priority is to remain open for business and to continue to provide livelihoods for our employees, partners and customers. We are in a unique position to have offices in all states and regional areas throughout Australia, allowing our support staff to travel by vehicle to site, rather than rely on air transportation. This allows flexibility and easy adaptation to your organisations’ needs as we continue to partner together.

Our Customer Service staff are all equipped to work remotely and will be able to answer your calls during usual working hours of 6:00am – 5:00pm (EDST).
Our Field Support team has been provided with a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) specifically for personal hygiene, social distancing, and the disinfection of plant and tools, should they be required on your site.
We will continue to monitor our work procedures and advice by the Australian Government, but in the meantime know we’re here for you!

Call:  1800 SITECH  (1800 748 324)

Destination Kazakhstan for SITECH technician as roll-out goes on

The roll out of a system developed by SITECH Construction System continues for Orica with Kazakhstan the latest destination for one our staff as part of the implementation.

Product support technician Josh Anderson travelled to the Central Asian country from May 14 to June 2 as part of the In-Vehicle Monitoring System (IVMS) developed by SITECH and being introduced by Orica to its operations around the globe.

The system has a range of features that provide live monitoring of an array of activities and includes Trimble Car Cube, hands-free phone function, rollover sensor, duress switch, and interior and external cameras.

Location, road speed, driver behaviour, pitch and roll, and activity durations are among activities monitored.

Emergency situations are a particular focus with alert notifications, cameras, and duress switch just some of the safety minded applications.

Josh’s role in country encompassed installation and training local subcontractors to install IVMs as well as training local operators to use the system.

“The subcontractors I trained will continue on to finish the second half of the Kazakhstan installs and then will move onto Russia,” Josh said.

The largest land-locked country in the world, Kazakhstan was formerly a part of the Soviet Union and has a population of over 18 million people.

Josh was based in Ekibastuz, population 125,000, in the north-east of the country and home to the biggest open-cast coal field in the world.

The Vostochny Coal Mine was commissioned in 1985 and has produced more than 240 million tons of coal since the start of operations.

Much of the coal dug there is used to fuel three nearby power stations.

Despite that, Josh said it was ‘a very pretty place’.

“It’s basically one big, flat plain – if you have a view of the horizon you can see the curvature of the Earth,” he said.

“Despite its population, Ekibastuz feels like a village. As you’d imagine, as a former part of the Soviet Union, it looks a lot like you’d expect, with Soviet era buildings and vehicles.

“There’s also a lot of horses. I initially thought they were for riding … but most are for eating.”

Thankfully, Josh’s time in the country wasn’t during winter, when temperatures can plummet to -30C.

Language differences were just part of the task for Josh, who is based at our Brisbane office.

“When I arrived in Kazakhstan I made my own way to Ekibastuz so relied a lot on Google Translator plus hand gestures,” he laughed.

“For the work, I was fortunate one of the crew, who was Polish, had some English so we could work it all out and get the job done.”

Josh said project co-ordinator Grace Brosnan’s work had make the Kazakhstan roll-out as pain-free as possible.

“Grace organised parts ordering and shipping to our IVMS assembler in the US, liaising with them for system changes and updates, organising export of goods, contracting local subcontractors and working with Orica Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as making herself available at all hours of the day and night in case I had problems (like organising accommodation at 3am!),” Josh said.

“I couldn’t have done this project without her.”

Finland, Bulgaria, Dubai and Africa are among the coming locations for the IVMS roll-out, SITECH’s largest operation to date.