Feature: GPS - technology leads the way

16 December 2015

The advances in GPS and telematics technology means accuracy and efficiency is improving all the time – in fact, Richard Clement, planning manager at Komatsu, even stated that such technology means a lesser need for human brain power when operating machines.

One company which has upgraded its technology is US-based Trimble. The company has introduced a new version of its GCS900 Grade Control System and CCS900 Compaction Control System, with performance improvements for dozers and machine-to-machine communication capabilities for soil, landfill and asphalt compactors.

GCS900 version 12.7 features GradeMax Plus − a new technology that increases the overall performance of dozers by allowing the operator to grade faster and more consistently with tighter accuracy, said Trimble. The system uses the Trimble GS420 Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor to detect the current rate of acceleration and changes in orientation.

Trimble has also increased the rate at which the GCS900 system drives the valves on the dozer for a more consistent control and recovery of the dozer blade, so operators can grade higher quality surfaces at faster speeds, it said.

With GradeMax Plus, operators can grade a wider-range of complex surfaces without constraints. For example, operators have the freedom to rotate the dozer blade during operation on steep slopes while maintaining constant grading speeds.

Ryan Kunisch, marketing director for Trimble Heavy Civil Construction, said, “GradeMax Plus technology allows contractors to grade between 35 and 40% faster on average, depending on the dozer type and the material being used.”

CCS900 version 12.7 introduces wireless data share − machine-to-machine communication − that gives operators the ability to share mapping data between compactors on the same site in real-time. The machines communicate using a wi-fi network via the Trimble SNM940 Connected Site Gateway telematics device.

Wireless data share allows each compactor to see the work being done by other compactors in real-time, so operators know which areas have been compacted, and which areas still need to be completed.

In addition, new layer management functionality allows operators to view the layers or lifts other compactors are working on. The real-time display of this information in the cab enables the operator to achieve more consistent compaction while also reducing the amount of under- and over-compacted areas. Trimble said this not only improved surface quality, but could also save time and fuel.

The mapping information is synchronised back to the office for progress monitoring, and compaction documentation and reporting, using Trimble’s VisionLink asset management and project monitoring software.

Precise positioning

Meanwhile, Japanese-based Topcon Positioning Group has released the LZ-T5, a laser transmitter, for use with its Millimeter GPS (global positioning system) precise positioning system.

The LZ-T5 incorporates new design and operational technology that enhances its performance in fluctuating temperatures and adverse weather conditions, said Topcon.

The LZ-T5 is the latest upgrade for the Topcon LazerZone system that combines advanced laser technology with the accuracy of a robotic total station and GNSS (global navigation satellite system) positioning into one jobsite solution.

The new transmitter is compatible with existing Millimeter GPS systems.

Ulrich Hermanski, director for European construction business, said, “Additionally the housing has been made more user-friendly with twin ergonomic handles to allow for easier carrying and mounting, and the battery-life has been extended to last up to 20% longer.”

Millimeter GPS is a Topcon technology that allows traditional GPS measurement and machine control systems to improve its vertical accuracy by up to 400%, it claimed. The LZ-T5 uses patented zone-beam laser technology continuously to provide high accuracy elevation information to improve GNSS positioning.

“When Topcon introduced Millimeter GPS technology a decade ago, we expanded the advantages of GPS technology into high-precision applications and created an economical option for our 3D machine control customers to further increase their productivity,” said Hermanski.

“Our exclusive Millimeter GPS system has proven itself as the most productive technology for the highest accuracy fine grading and paving projects. With the new LZ-T5 transmitter, we have improved its design to enhance its performance and added features that make it even easier to use.”

Minimise downtime

Danish-based Danfoss Power Solutions has expanded its telematics solutions platform, which uses data to boost efficiency, extends product lifespan and minimises downtime for off-highway equipment.

Four new platform product offerings feature enhanced applications for remote service, efficiency management, fleet management, anti-theft, operator safety and connectivity, the company said.

The Danfoss telematics solutions platform claims to provide customers with easy-to-develop, custom applications through its PLUS+1 GUIDE (Graphical User Integrated Development Environment) system that uses drag-and-drop editing. This makes application development for system controls simple and accessible, even for programmers lacking formal development training, said Danfoss.

By combining machine-integrated technology, cellular network connectivity, data transfer via wi-fi and a customisable, intuitive user interface, the Danfoss telematics solutions platform gives fleet owners visibility of how, when and where their equipment is used. Within the heavy equipment industry, the Danfoss platform is said to differentiate itself from others by providing a flexible and comprehensive suite of telematics performance – not just bits and pieces of capability – into an all-in-one system.

“Telematics data is only useful if it can be easily understood and managed,” said Marco Tacke, product marketing manager of telematics solutions at Danfoss Power Solutions. “The Danfoss Telematics Solutions experience is guided by the intelligent management of information that flows seamlessly to and from equipment, giving customers the opportunity to plug-and-perform rather than code-and-compile.”

One new product from Danfoss is the WS103 unit which features wireless CAN (controller area network) via wi-fi, seamless vehicle-to-vehicle networking and IT infrastructure, and TCP/UDP connections. User benefits are said to include eliminating the need for CAN cable on a machine, availability of wi-fi service tool connection and the ability to connect a WS103 unit to a WS403/503-equipped machine.

These benefits save time and money during service, development and production, and increase machine availability in areas without cellular coverage, as well as increasing functional safety during start-up, said Danfoss.

Meanwhile, Danfoss has released what it claimed was the industry’s first intelligent steering option with full safety integration.

The system incorporates both a steering and a safety controller into an electrohydraulic actuator, saving development resources and accelerating time to market for OEMs, according to the company.

The new system connects directly with GPS to allow automatic steering for a wide array of off-highway machinery for increased productivity.

It also improves driver comfort with Quick Steering functionality, and enables joystick or mini-wheel steering for all applications.

Independent feedback

Japanese-based Komatsu is using a GNSS receiver, track slip detection and transmission control, and stroke sensing cylinders on its D61-PXi dozer. This means the user doesn’t have to take manual surveys as the feedback of data is independent.

Danish-based Telematics producer Trackunit is confident it will achieve its financial targets in 2015 and is pursuing product development with its new private equity backers behind it.

The company’s parent, M-Tec Holding Pandrup, was acquired this summer by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division and GRO Capital.

The price of the deal was not disclosed but Construction Europe’s sister magazine International Rental News (IRN) understands it was around €100 million.

Trackunit founders Svend Hansen and Jesper Fjeldsø sold all shares in M-tec Holding and have no further link to the company. A new management structure is in place under the leadership of CEO Joergen Raguse who has more than 10 years’ experience in the organisation.

Track unit marketing manager Kristian Kjaergaard said the company expected the positive trend and growth in sales it saw in 2014 to continue.

He said, “In terms of licences we expect to double our sales compared to 2014 – totalling approximately 150,000 units worldwide by the end of 2015, with a stronger focus on machinery.

“For us the growth drivers are mainly a continuing increase in demand for machine telematics in existing segments in European countries and an impressive growth in sales to new markets such as North America.”

Kjaergaard said the company was continuously developing products and services. “In terms of hardware technology we have launched a new 3G tracker solution to match the development in cellular networks around the globe. Features such as multiple SIM-cards, ID-technology and CAN are other key elements.”

He said technology was likely to get more personalised in the future.

“The software platforms (online portal) is going to offer a more individualised and flexible presentation of machine data meaning you get exactly the information you need – anywhere. So personalisation will definitely play a role – as well as mobility where telematics runs on mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones.”

He said this meant that the use of telematics among its customers expanded when more employees benefited from the services offered by the telematics providers – “both at the office on multiple levels and in-field”.

Meanwhile, Future Market Insights (FMI) has reported that the global OHV (off-highway vehicle) telematics market is projected to double in size from 2014 to 2020, as a result of expected growth in demand from the construction industry, as well as mining and industrial.

Stringent government rules for vehicle safety and navigation are further expected to drive growth in the market, FMI said. The market is expected to grow above the average rate when compared with global automotive production.

North America and Europe are the largest contributors in the global OHV telematics market. Asia Pacific is expected to register the highest CAGR (compound annual growth rate), thanks to high penetration rate of wireless technologies, increasing awareness, and changing government norms, said FMI.

It added that consumers viewed telematics as one of the best ways to reduce vehicle operating costs. The volume of telematics-integrated vehicles is expected to grow after 2015. This growth will be fuelled by the entry of rental equipment provider companies into the telematics market.

According to FMI, the key players in the OHV telematics market include Caterpillar, Daimler, and General Motors, to name but a few. Participants in this market follow the strategy of acquisitions and mergers to enhance their market share and customer base, it said.

Moreover, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) dealing in heavy equipment are going into strategic partnerships with aftermarket vendors to develop advanced solutions. For example, Telogis signed an agreement with Manitowoc in 2013 to develop OHV solutions.

OEMs do not have sufficient database infrastructure and face difficulty in providing solutions for mixed fleets, according to FMI. Partnering with aftermarket vendors helps OEMs to overcome this shortcoming. OEMs such as Caterpillar, Komatsu, Volvo and John Deere work with aftermarket suppliers such as Navman Wireless and industry bodies to develop standard APIs (application program interfaces) for taking care of data such as vehicle identification, location and hours
of use.

FMI reported that Caterpillar and Trimble had developed a brand agnostic fleet management and site productivity solutions platform designed for contractors with mixed equipment fleets. The two companies are working on telematics via a joint venture company.


German-based Symeo, which specialises in wireless position detection, distance measurement, anti-collision and data transmission systems, has signed a strategic partner agreement with Solvo, covering the Russian region.

Solvo is an independent software developer and a provider of terminal operating solutions for port logistics in its home country. In addition to Ferrox, Solvo now gives Symeo a second Russian distributor with special expertise in terminal systems and software solutions. With this regional move, Symeo expands its global market position in the area of radio, and global-satellite-based position detection solutions.

Based in St Petersburg, Solvo is a provider of terminal operating system (TOS) and warehouse management solutions (WMS) in Russia. These software systems are a key element in supply chain management for container terminals, said Symeo. They allow efficient monitoring of container handling operations and co-ordinate the movement of all equipment and freight throughout
the terminal

The positioning systems from Symeo, which are currently deployed on nearly 700 transport vehicles at more than 30 container terminals around the world, provide Solvo’s customers and sales partners a highly-accurate, reliable positioning solution for seamless material tracking, the company said.

Using the patented local positioning
radar, and with the help of GPS, Glonass (the Russian version of GPS) and Galileo (Europe’s GNSS), Symeo systems determine the position of rail-bound and free-moving transport vehicles, cranes and freight in real-time –
both in internal and external areas of the container terminal.

The Symeo products feature a special, robust design that ensures fault-tolerant and maintenance-free operation, even in harsh conditions where dirt, dust and vibrations are commonplace, it said.


Topcon has announced a partnership with US-based Daqri, to collaborate on wearable technology, designed to change the way construction and survey professionals interface with the job site.

Topcon and Daqri – creator of the Daqri Smart Helmet which has a hands-free wearable high-definition display positioned beneath a protective visor – will work together to create a solution designed to make workers on the job safer and more productive through the use of augmented reality technologies.

Topcon said that with Daqri’s software platform for positioning, the partnership will allow construction workers to view information from their projects in the real-world work environment to make their workflows safer and more efficient.

The collaboration is designed to bring wearable technology to a wider architecture, engineering and construction user-base, giving the wearer a hands-free tool that can be used on the job.

Jason Hallett, Topcon vice president of product management, said, “It’s the first step in utilising our mutual synergies to develop rugged, heads-up display technology for our marketplace.”

Septentrio and Forsberg Germany, an OEM component supplier and system integrator, have formed a new strategic partnership.

Forsberg Germany will sell and support Septentrio OEM receivers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This partnership combines Septentrio’s GNSS positioning technology and products with Forsberg Germany’s extensive market experience and engineering expertise, said Septentrio.

Koen Gutscoven, vice president for sales at Septentrio, said, “Forsberg Germany is a pioneer in European professional navigation systems and has in-depth knowledge of our technology and markets. They are an excellent partner in guiding and supporting our customers towards winning implementations in which reliability and accuracy matter.”

Charles Forsberg, managing director of Forsberg, said, “We believe that our partnership with Septentrio to supply their products and services will bring enormous benefits to our customers and Forsberg Germany.

“We highly value the opportunity to work with Septentrio,” he said.

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