Interstate 25 through the heart of Pueblo, Colorado is one of the oldest segments of freeway in the state, with no efforts to modernize it since it was originally built in the 1950s. That is until July 2015, which marked the start of improvements.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) selected local construction firm Scott Contracting for portions of the project, including the bridge work, which consists of removing and rebuilding six bridges along two miles of highway and moving more than one million tons of material. Based on experience from previous jobs, Scott Contracting superintendent Corey Jolly knew this job called for the use of a payload management system to help his team track load weights, manage which of three trucking companies are moving which materials and how much each should be paid, and keep the project on schedule.
Working with Jeff Lovell from Desert Basin Companies out of Herriman, Utah, Jolly equipped his Volvo EC700 excavator with a Trimble LOADRITE X2350 excavator scale with a Trimble LOADRITE Material Management System (MMS) and modem.
With the excavator scale, a bucket sensor is installed on the excavator bucket that, together with trigger units that are mounted on the boom and stick pivot point, measures the position of the bucket, boom and stick arm to ensure weighing accuracy. An in-cab monitor receives data from the sensors and calculates bucket-by-bucket weight, which is then sent to Jolly’s laptop using the cellular modem.
“We are about 200,000 tons of material into a one million ton project and I am already estimating that this technology will help us finish three months ahead of schedule on a two-year project,” said Jolly.
“With an excavator scale we don’t have to scale trucks as they’re leaving because we’ve already weighed the material as we excavated it. This saves us approximately two minutes per load, and our goal is to move 120 loads per day – so we’re shaving four hours off of our production schedule every, single day. That means we are able to increase our loads by 5% – or five loads per day – which really adds up over the course of two years.”
In addition to saving time, the LOADRITE system is also making it easier for the Scott team to track and manage materials being hauled away from the job site by three different trucking companies. In addition to using multiple trucking companies, they are hauling away three types of material, each with different weights and prices. “Some of the trucking companies we’re working with are paid hourly and others are paid by the ton,” said Jolly. “The system makes it easy to segregate which materials each company is hauling, and it gives us an end of day quantity so we know how much we need to pay each company, all without creating and counting up tickets.”
Typically, the LOADRITE excavator scale provides weights accurate within three percent, but Jolly is seeing accuracy hover around one percent, which is due in part to the experience of his operators. This level of accuracy helps Scott Contracting avoid overloading fines while also loading trucks to their absolute maximum capacity per load. “It’s very difficult even for experienced operators to guess material weight,” said Jolly. “The benefits of knowing precise weights before the truck pulls away are substantial and obvious – increased productivity, increased efficiency and, ultimately, increased profits.”
With the addition of the cellular modem and MMS system, all of the data that is being collected by the excavator scales is pushed to the cloud and available to Jolly on a website from his laptop. The MMS reporting functionality can present the data in a variety of different formats, all in real-time. “The reports give me metrics for everything that is going on with our machines and the trucks at any given time,” said Jolly. “I can pull the reports up from my laptop on the job site and see at a glance how long it’s taking to load each truck, if there’s a truck that’s lagging behind the others, the weights of each truck and more. If there’s a new operator, or heavy traffic, I can make changes to the traffic routes or give an operator tips right in the middle of a shift.”
As part of the same project, Scott Contracting also used the LOADRITE system to remove and replace three of the four on and off ramps at the busy intersection of Interstate 25 and US Route 50. The contract allowed 120 working days in 12 phases to complete this phase of the work. Scott instead proposed a fast-track method, shortening the project from 120 to 42 days and resulting in a total cost savings of $500,000. Scott met its goal, removing and replacing 28,000 square yards (nearly six acres) of 11-inch concrete paving, and performing another $1.2 million of added work within this same time frame. The company was awarded the American Concrete Institute’s Award of Excellence for Fast-Track Construction of this phase of the project.
“Without a doubt, this technology is having a tremendous impact on our business. I can’t imagine doing this type of work without it,” said Jolly. “Any time we have an excavator on a job from now on, that excavator will be equipped with LOADRITE excavator scales. Since we purchased this system, we have not received any overload fines. We expect the system to pay for itself on this job alone.”