In full swing

25 April 2008

Golf Vendura's location on Sicily's southern Mediterranean coast gives it a prime position and will

Golf Vendura's location on Sicily's southern Mediterranean coast gives it a prime position and will be open in time for next year's holiday season.

Two Months of Heavy Rain at the beginning of the earthmoving phase on most construction projects would normally impact on the rest of the project's schedule. However, development of Golf Vendura in Sicily, Italy is on target to be completed on time in March next year, despite suffering eight weeks of poor weather at the start of the contract.

The 45-hole golf course, which is split into two 18-hole and one nine hole courses, has been designed for Italy's Forte family by golf architect Kyle Phillips. The complex's location on Sicily's southern Mediterranean coast gives the site a prime position and the project's client was keen to have the development finished in time for the 2007 tourist season.

Main contractor Benedetti Golf International always knew that building a 250 hectare golf course in 18 months could present a real challenge, even without the added problem of bad weather. Before moving onto site in September last year, the France-based contractor looked to find a way to fast-track the earthworks in order to have the site ready for seeding this autumn.

“Setting out a site of this scale with complex geometry using traditional techniques would require up to six surveyors and millions of wooden stakes,” said Benedetti machine park manager Roger Oudin. With a tight deadline on the scheme Benedetti needed to find an alternative approach to save time on the work. The contractor had already started to look at the various types of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) machine control systems available.

“As a company we want to move all of our sites over to GPS-based machine control. We build golf courses all over the world and use of GPS would enable us to keep track of progress on site from our head office in France,” said Mr Oudin. “We looked at lots of systems but nothing seemed ideal to meet our needs.”

Benedetti planned to buy new construction equipment specifically for the Golf Vendura project and started talking to French Komatsu dealer MDR about its needs for the project. “Komatsu was in the process of setting up an agreement with Topcon to supply Komatsu machines ready fitted with GPS machine control,” explained Mr Oudin.

Komatsu officially signed the deal to supply its construction equipment with Topcon's machine control systems as a factory fitted option at Intermat in Paris, France in April. But Benedetti was an early beneficiary of the agreement, with the machines supplied in advance of the deal being finalised.

“The GPS equipment is fitted by Komatsu but checked by Topcon before delivery,” said Komatsu France director of marketing and development Phillippe Haguenauer. “After sales support for the machine control is provided by Topcon and support for the machine itself is provided by Komatsu.”

Mr Oudin said, “Golf Vendura was to be our first scheme carried out using GPS machine control rather than laser guidance. But we were concerned that its introduction might initially affect production while the operator got to grips with the new system. Topcon agreed to provide us with full support so we could get the project up and running quickly.”

Benedetti is using a fleet of seven dozers, each fitted with Topcon MC-A1 antenna, to carry out the 1,5 million m3 of earthmoving. The contractor's site office is fitted with a base station, formed by a GB-1000 receiver and a PG-A1 antenna, and there is also a rover station on site, formed by a HiPer+ integrated receiver and antenna, to provide the site with real time information.

All of the Topcon equipment can receive signals from the US-owned GPS satellites and the Russian-owned GLONASS system. “The more satellites which the machine can receive signals from, the higher the accuracy,” said Topcon marketing manager Achiel Sturm. “Using two satellite constellations means that the site has better coverage throughout the day. Relying on just one constellation often means that there are periods when there are not enough satellites available to operate the machine control, reducing productivity.”

Benedetti also has a four wheel drive pick-up truck fitted with a rover and in cab display so that the site team can quickly check on progress by driving across the site, as well as a 70 tonne Hitachi EX700 excavator fitted with GPS guidance with two MC-A1 antennas.

Other equipment on site includes five Volvo AD30 articulated dump trucks, four Caterpillar 621 scrapers, two compactors - a Cat 816 and Bomag BW216 - and a Cat 14G grader for keeping the access roads clear.

Benedetti is working from a site model of Kyle Phillips's design generated in Autocad, which has been transferred into Topcon's software system. The software uses the data from the model and positioning data from the satellites to automatically move the dozer blade.

“The topography on any golf course is complex and intricate and final shaping of the greens, fairways and bunkers is always done by hand to perfect the design,” said Mr Oudin. “Use of the GPS machine control is more accurate so we have had to do much less work by hand at Golf Vendura.”

Another benefit of machine control is that Benedetti has not had to stake out the works, which Mr Oudin claims has speeded up the earthmoving by up to +35%. Use of GPS also enabled Benedetti to catch up on time lost to the heavy rain at the start of the contract. “We have only needed to have one surveyor on site too,” Mr Oudin added.

The main earthworks for the project were completed in June, clearing the way for final shaping and preparation for seeding which is scheduled to start this month (September).

In addition to the earthmoving element of the Golf Vendura scheme, Bendetti is also responsible for installing 40 km of drainage pipes, 2500 sprinklers, two artificial lakes with a surface area of 19 Ha for water management and 20 km of access roads. The development also includes a luxury spa hotel and villas, which are currently being built under a separate contract.

Following successful use of GPS machine control at Golf Vendura, Benedetti plans to roll out use of the system on all future projects.

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