Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. uses Trimble asset management and grade control technology for increased job site efficiency
When Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. was founded more than 60 years ago, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was a thing of the distant future. Today, the Columbus, Ohio based site development firm considers it a necessity. From the owners to the estimators to the project supervisors, those who work at Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. credit the technology for making them more efficient, more cost-effective and more competitive.
That is why one of the first calls that Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. made when the company was awarded the $175-million trans-shipping terminal with the CSX Railroad was to their local GPS dealer.
“We've been using GPS to guide our dozers on large earthmoving projects for about five years and we knew we'd just scratched the surface of the capabilities this kind of technology could provide for us,” said Marty Savko, Jr., who represents the third generation to enter the family business. “The CSX Railroad's trans-shipping terminal in N. Baltimore, Ohio, just south of Toledo, was about 100 miles from our corporate offices in Columbus. We wanted a way to track our production, idle times and status from Columbus, so our first step was to start researching remote monitoring options.”
With the help of Steve Schmitt, from Precision Laser & Instrument, now SITECH® Ohio, the local Trimble dealer, Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. acquired 36 Trimble® CrossCheck® Global Locator devices and Trimble Construction Manager software for remote equipment monitoring. The company also purchased a Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System for greater fine grading precision and efficiency.
As a first step, Schmitt delivered the CrossCheck Global Locator devices and trained Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. personnel on the installation and maintenance. Once installed, the GPS device monitors information such as engine idle time, cycle times, productivity, and more.
“Steve showed us how to install the CrossCheck device on a scraper and on an articulated dump truck,” said Savko. “We then installed the other 34 units ourselves and have been able to handle all of the maintenance too.”
In addition to assisting with hardware installation, Schmitt installed the Trimble Construction Manager software on several Savko laptops and on two rugged Trimble Tablet computers. Following some brief training, the equipment and the users were ready to go.
Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. initiated the CSX Railroad's trans-shipping terminal in April 2009 with the CrossCheck devices installed on almost every piece of equipment at the job site. As the company's personnel began moving dirt for the seven-mile long, 800-acre, trans-shipping terminal, both Marty and his dad were able to monitor the status of the job in real-time on their laptops at the corporate offices.
“We had a lot of work to do in a short period of time, so our highest priority was staying on top of our production,” said Savko. “We looked at the yardage we moved per hour and per day, as well as by category of machine and each individual machine.”
Each day, Martin Savko Sr. and Martin Jr. would discuss the reports and status, and share any concerns with the project superintendent at the job site, project manager and estimator. The reports were utilized to help make better decisions on-site, such as whether a particular machine or operator was under-performing, or if the equipment needed to be moved to a different job site location.
“Because we were able to maintain such close contact and supervision on our progress, we were able to complete the earthwork phase a month ahead of schedule,” he said. “The software helped us move over three million cubic yards of dirt in five months! Equally important, the software helped us identify a major concern before it became a real problem.”
In addition to monitoring production, the company also reviewed idle times in order to keep fuel costs down. Throughout the day, the Savkos referred to the software's idle time reports to identify which machines were idling and for how long. If idle times seemed unusually high on a particular day for a piece of equipment, the Savkos would then call the project superintendent to discuss what changes needed to be made.
Using GPS technology to monitor job-site performance from the office, Nick Savko & Sons, Inc. also purchased a new dozer and equipped it with a Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System for the CSX Railroad project. The GCS900 is a 3D grade control system that puts the design grade surfaces and alignments at the operator's fingertips. The system uses GPS technology to position the blade in real-time, which eliminates the need for manual staking and improves productivity.
“We have machine control systems on the majority of our earthmoving equipment, but we were drawn to the Trimble GCS900 because its GLONASS capabilities provide blade control within three to six millimeters,” said Savko. “We had 400 acres of fine grading work to do on this project, so we wanted to be as precise and efficient as possible.”
With the GCS900 Grade Control System and GLONASS upgrade selected by Savko, a dualGPS/GLONASS antenna system is mounted to the blade of the dozer. The antenna delivers precise positioning data to an in-cab control box that determines the position of each tip of the blade and compares it to the design elevation to compute cut or fill to grade. An in-cab monitor gives the operator full visibility into the job site, his location and the position of the blade.
“The accuracy and productivity gains we saw from this bulldozer compared to those guided by stakes was astonishing,” said Savko. “The grade control system paid for itself before this job was even completed, and we've been using it on every job since.”
Another major advantage of using GPS technology is the reassurance it provides to the client. When executives from CSX visited the job site, the site supervisor was able to drive them around the project in a truck equipped with a Trimble Site Positioning System GPS receiver mounted to the cab's roof and a Trimble Tablet computer inside.
Although the earthwork phase of the CSX Railroad's trans-shipping terminal is completed, all of the GPS equipment purchased for the job is now being utilized on new construction projects. According to Savko, the GPS technology not only improves the productivity of current jobs, but also helps the company more accurately bid future projects.
“This technology provides us with our true costs, so we know how to bid and track jobs down to the minute,” he said. “We've been able to lower our overall cost, which make us more competitive and gives our clients a more cost-efficient project.”
- Contractor uses Trimble asset management and grade control technology for increased job site efficiency
- Trimble Construction Manager helps Savko & Sons monitor equipment operating 100 miles away
- Daily monitoring helped contractor move three million cubic yards of dirt in five months - a full month ahead of schedule
- Trimble GCS900 3D grade control system provided grade control within three to six millimeters and paid for itself in a matter of months