Trimble 3D grade control systems bring design surfaces, grades and alignments into the machine cabin for precise, stakeless construction that saves time and money
The game of golf is built around obstacles. From bunkers and water hazards to rolling landscapes and fairways, golf courses are designed to be uneven and unpredictable. These challenges are also a reality when it comes to designing and constructing a golf course. Varying soils, elevations and grades even across a single golf course, can make it difficult for field engineers and machine operators to convert an architect's plans into reality.
With Cat® AccuGrade™ on the excavator, the edges of a green are formed using a 5 centimeter contour interval according to the drawings of the golf course architect with a special attachment made by Danjord.
That's why leading Danish contractor Danjord decided to leverage 3D grade control technology for the construction of a premier golf course at Kildebjerg Ry in Denmark. Danjord is a top contractor that specializes in land development, paving, road works and drainage systems. The company's work is highly-regarded and includes the development of BMX tracks and golf courses, other athletic facilities as well as more traditional projects such as paving and concrete drilling for waste management and other commercial and residential projects.
Danjord engineers believed Trimble® and Cat machine control technology was essential for this type of project because it allowed the operators to keep tighter control over safety issues and see precisely where dirt is being moved on site. It helped maximize machine and operator productivity with its powerful excavation, trenching, grading and profile work capabilities. With 3D grade control, design information and live cut/fill indications are displayed in the cab which allows excavation work to be done in a safer, stakeless environment.
Danjord turned to SITECH® Danmark as the local provider of Trimble and Cat machine control systems to equip the mixed fleet of heavy equipment to be used on the Kildebjerg site either with the Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System or with the Cat AccuGrade system - both systems have been designed to be fully compatible at the site level-utilizing the same data structure and format, the same user interface in cab and in the office and the same GNSS based site infrastructure. The heavy machinery finally equipped included a mixed fleet of three dozers and seven excavators.
The Kildebjerg Golf Course is being developed by the golf company Proark Golf, which operates six golf courses in Denmark. The new course will include a nine and an 18-hole golf course. The nine-hole pay and play course will be seeded in the fall of 2011 while the 18-hole course will be ready for seeding in the summer of 2012.
During the design phase Line Mortensen, a renowned Scotland-based golf course architect, developed the Kildebjerg course digitally with a contour interval of five centimeters. The digital design was then delivered to the Danjord team where engineer Rasmus Birch Sørensen exported the file for use with the grade control systems.
"The use of 3D machine control throughout the project gives us several advantages," said Sørensen, project leader for Danjord. "One of the biggest benefits is that we are saving a lot of man-hours in staking out. If we used traditional methods of staking, we would need a surveyor and assistant onsite throughout the span of the contract, which adds considerable costs."
To further streamline operations, Danjord established a permanent base station on the course to provide operators with the ability to perform accurate status checks on the design build progress and work to centimeter-level accuracy all day.
"Another important benefit is the flexibility of the system," said Sørensen. "On a golf course there are several different soil types, which can vary from location to location as well as day to day. For example, if we stopped excavation work at a certain point because of heavy rain, we can immediately move the machines somewhere else on the course and continue work. The machines can be put into operation without any delay or problems because the designs for various soil types are already loaded into the Trimble or Cat grade control system."
Sørensen also believes the flexibility within the Trimble and Cat 3D technology is important when excavating drains. Automatic machine control means operators do not have to wait for support from a surveyor to check if the correct depth of the ditch is programmed. Operators can also monitor achieved depths from inside the cab, as they work. This allows the operator to start excavation work immediately and to be more productive throughout the day. The in cab control box determines the position of each tip of the blade and compares it to the design elevation to compute cut or fill to grade. The cut/fill data is used to drive the valves for automatic blade control or is passed to in-cab lightbars that provide visual guidance to the operator, saving time and ensuring consistency and accuracy.
A Komatsu 85PX with Trimble GCS900 grade control in the process of forming one of the long par 5 holes on the course.
Machine utilization also improves which significantly reduces machine idle times and lowers fuel costs across project. Using machines more efficiently can save thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and cut down on unnecessary machine wear and tear.
"Trimble and Cat 3D grade control also allows us to make necessary, real-time design changes with confidence," said Sørensen. "For example working with the architect we were able to reduce the level of an excavated hole due to the specific ground conditions in that area. It required no staking or marking out; instead we just instructed our machine drivers to use the vertical offset feature of the system to lower the design automatically."
Used on a dozer, excavator or scraper, Sørensen is confident the Trimble GCS900 and the Cat AccuGrade systems allow even lesser skilled operators to work faster, more consistently, and with less rework. In traditional golf course construction for example, specialist machine drivers are often hired to operate scrapers to develop the contours and the layout of a golf course. These machine drivers typically have considerable experience and a highly regarded skillset, which can add significantly to construction labor costs. By utilizing Trimble and Cat 3D automatic control systems, Danjord did not have to hire any specialists for this project and instead the team was able to rely on its current machine operators to perform the shaping needed on the Kildebjerg course.
Mortensen, the course architect, is very pleased with the performance of the 3D machine control technology because it has given her greater control throughout construction and the ability to make more informed decisions about design changes and corrections.
"It used to be said that golf course architects had jurisdiction over about 25 percent of the decisions during a project, and executives had about 75 percent," said Mortensen. "Now it is almost the reverse and I am obviously very pleased about the shift and think it shows excellent progress in course design. For my next project I will design in 3D from the very beginning, which will be a little more of a time investment upfront, but in return I'll receive the details on the course I am drawing and the project overall will be more efficient. For Kildebjerg I was impressed that there were very few corrections needed and next time I'm confident there will be even fewer."
Frank Andreasen, is one of the Danjord drivers who operate as a shaper in the project.
Frank Andreasen, an experienced Cat D5 bulldozer operator on the project, believes the Trimble and Cat 3D technology has helped to nearly double the productivity of machine operations. And with the significant time and cost savings captured over the course of this build, Danjord has installed GNSS machine control technology on its entire fleet of dozers and all excavators that weigh over 15 tons.
"I have previously been involved in the installation of five to six golf courses and I have become used to putting myself in the mind of the golf course architect," said Andreasen. "With the Trimble and Cat grade control systems, I am much more confident about what I am doing and I can concentrate on the details. The most important benefit I've experienced is that I do not have to get out of the machine frequently to take measurements. Also with manual staking I had to constantly navigate around these obstacles, which often had to be replaced by the surveyor- now I can get much more done on my own. I'd estimate productivity has increased 50 percent with Trimble and Cat 3D machine control; when marking out land for plantation I can produce twice as much!"