AccuGrade saves time as Cat signals 'system of the future'

A production study comparing a conventional road construction job site to a job site using Caterpillar's AccuGrade machine control and guidance products has revealed outstanding improvements in terms of productivity, fuel consumption, finish quality and safety, according to the company.

AccuGrade uses GPS to compare the blade position to a three-dimensional computerised site plan and signals the operator to raise or lower the blade to
AccuGrade uses GPS to compare the blade position to a three-dimensional computerised site plan and signals the operator to raise or lower the blade to

A production study comparing a conventional road construction job site to a job site using Caterpillar's AccuGrade machine control and guidance products has revealed outstanding improvements in terms of productivity, fuel consumption, finish quality and safety, according to the company.

Cat claims that AccuGrade enabled a 100% increase in productivity and a 43% reduction in fuel consumption while resulting in better finish grade and a safer working environment. The study was conducted at the Caterpillar Malaga Demonstration and Learning Center in Spain at the end of last year.

"The idea of a production study stemmed from the fact that it is not always easy to convince people of the potential advantages that AccuGrade can bring to a job site. Our engineers work very hard to get five to 10% more productivity on new machines, so when we started talking about 40 to 50% better productivity, very few people who had not already experienced it, believed it," said Marilyn Murphy, regional manager - productivity solutions, Caterpillar.

"We wanted to provide facts and data in an 'apples to apples' comparison, which is very difficult to do in a real live situation as each job is different. In our study we had to controlthe sites, the construction team, the equipment and the material to assure that the real difference between the two projects was limited to the use of AccuGrade."

In the study, two identical roads were built, one using the 'conventional way' with stakes on the ground and the other 'new way', using AccuGrade systems. The design of the roads simulated a highway access road, and included cuts and fills, curves, elevation changes and super elevations.

The production study consisted of measuring the time for all of the different operations: the number of passes, buckets or truckloads, fuel consumption and accuracies to compare the two methods.

To ensure consistency, the two roads were built in the same area close together and used the same materials. The same machine models and the same machine operators were used and operations took place with the same weather conditions.

For the conventional method, the study used a 330D hydraulic excavator for the bulk and shaping work, a D6N for spreading and fine grading the sub-base, a 140H motor grader for the final trim on the base material, a fleet of three Caterpillar articulated trucks to move the material and a CS563 for compacting both the sub-base and the base layers.

For the AccuGrade road, the study added AccuGrade GPS to the track-type tractor and to the excavator, and AccuGrade ATS to the motor grader. In addition, the road design was installed directly into the machines, eliminating the use of stakes and grade checkers.

The results of the productivity study showed that the road built with AccuGrade took one and a half days while the conventional way took three days. This results in an increase in overall job site productivity of 100%. The accuracy of the finished design was within the accepted tolerance 98% of the time in the AccuGrade road, versus a figure of 45% for the conventional road.

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