So how much is this GNSS* Machine Guidance system?
We do not duck this question, and we are not frightened to put this first in the list. Because we believe so wholeheartedly in its capabilities, to prove it we have put our money where our mouths are and paid out over £30,000 to provide the Mitsubishi L200 crew cab and the Bobcat E14 demonstrator. We have added to it both the Prolec Digmaster Pro 3D machine guidance system and the Javad GNSS guidance hardware to create a ready to run demonstration unit that we believe to be unique in the UK.
The overall costs for the Infomap GNSS Machine Guidance system are likely to be below £30,000, depending on specification/machine size/installation costs. But please see FAQ.12 because the costs are not per excavator, they are for the system which can be swapped between machines.
Can machine guidance help me?
Yes! It will immediately give you the edge over your competitors and change your company operations for the better by giving you precise control over excavations and removing vagueness.
What are the mains parts of the system
Infomap have taken the best systems in their fields and brought them together in a powerfully united system for machine guidance that is second to none. The Prolec company’s Digmaster Pro3D machine guidance system with their special experience in the provision of accurate angle sensors, software and rugged computers, has been added to the high accuracy GNSS hardware of the Javad company to create a world beating pairing by Infomap. Javad was involved with GPS way back in the mid 1980’s when it was in its infancy. Both are long established companies with formidable technical backup.
Can I see it working for myself?
Yes! – Just give us a call and we will bring our unique system demonstrator to you at no cost to you.
Can I see it working for myself without stopping my own machines?
Yes! – Our demonstration excavator comes to you, where and when you want to see it, in a safe location and it will not affect your own work progress.
Why has it been so difficult to see this stuff in action?
It has been too expensive, primarily. How would you like one of your machines taken out of production for a minimum of 3 days, one/two days to install and calibrate it for your machine and 1 day to demonstrate it, and the best part of a day to take it all out again!?
What is it and how does it work?
We are simply using high accuracy RTK (Real-time Kinematic) GNSS* positioning of two fixed antennas points on the rear of an excavator and measuring the simple distances and angle relationship of those two antennas through the slew-ring centre of the excavator all the way out to the bucket blade and displaying that within a Sat-nav (crude analogy) type map in the cab. Actually, the full design is held in a multi layered format that is operator controlled. The GNSS accuracy is obtained by using corrections over a radio link from a site fixed secure GNSS base receiver. These radio broadcast signals may be picked up by unlimited numbers of machines within approximately 5 kms.
How soon before I am actually using it to make money?
With the system set up on site, the savings are immediate as your excavators are working accurately, under operator control, in the correct place, first time. You are saving on staff/fuel and maintenance costs during construction from the time it is first used.
Will it work anywhere?
Almost! Tree canopy and adjacent buildings can cause difficulties for GNSS* receivers, by blocking satellite reception. It will not work under trees, in general, but the tree canopy/sides of building margins, these (often) temporary situations can be helped by waiting until satellite positions have changed in the sky during the day.
What is the cost benefit analysis for this equipment?
We could tell you all sorts of unsupported numbers. The only ones that matter are yours, so perhaps the easiest way is to figure it out for yourself: What savings would you make if your machine could do its job at just 20% improvement, on average, in staff costs/fuel/maintenance/increased work time because you have the design “in-cab” – less waiting around for site engineers if pegs removed etc. Keep it simple. Work it out conservatively over a year, then 2 years, then 3 years. Don’t forget to see Q.12 below. The system costs are not just per machine.
How accurate is it?
RTK GNSS* positioning is limited to around 10mm horizontally and 15mm vertically, which in practice means golf ball size accuracy at the bucket teeth. This is achieved by use of a GNSS “Base Station” providing the high accuracy calculations.
Can it be moved or swapped on to other machines?
Yes! If your second or additional machines have all the correct cables/brackets/computer/control box supports fitted and the calibration measurements stored already, the changeover should be less than 2 hours.
Could I be trained to swap components to my other machines when I need them?
Yes! This is nothing less than removing the screw secured angle sensors/computer/control box/GNSS receivers/antennas mounted for this purpose. These are then repositioned on the new machine, the system switched on, the previously calibrated data file for that machine specified as the current one in use, then a check on site with the bucket to known point.
What changes would I have to make if I purchased this system?
When excavating, the screen is showing the machine/bucket position to the required level. The changes in how your company makes ready a construction site for machine guidance is more an activity planning aspect, ensuring that a design is made available when you need it. Only you would be aware of any advance planning that may need to take place ahead of mobilisation to site.
How is an excavator set-up with this equipment?
Please come and see the demonstrator system we have built and all will become clear.
How long does it take to set-up and calibrate my machine?
We generally state 1-2 days to make a machine ready for use. This includes the addition of the sensor support bases (welded), canbus cabling, installing securely the computer (in cab), system control box (in cab), GNSS receivers (in cab), and antennae on their mounts (welded). Once all is in place the accurate dimensioning of the vehicle parts/antennae locations takes place and these are entered onto the computer and saved for that machine.
This base receiver you mentioned above, is it purchased or rented?
A suitable receiver broadcasting the required corrections over a radio can be rented for the duration of the contract or purchased as part of the whole system. Various options can be discussed.
What maps does it use and what on earth is a ground model?
The digital map data employed in the system is source independent as long as the file type is “.DXF” This is simply an industry standard drawing file used by all CAD (Computer Aided Design) and ground modelling systems for data transfer between them. The designed ground shape (sometimes known as DTM’s (Digital Terrain Models) or DGM’s (Digital Ground Models) comes from a ground modelling system, but because it is 3D data (easting, northing and height) for each point it often gets moved around within CAD. However it has been handled, so long as you receive a 3D DXF version of the site, along with any required map overlay, which might include buried services / building / roadways / existing site survey information etc, the Prolec system should display it. See Video
How do I get the right mapping information in design to make the system work?
This data should be supplied by the clients, or you can arrange for Infomap to create the required files and supply for relatively small fees.
Can it be used underwater or in coastal tidal areas?
Yes! In Europe, especially in The Netherlands, underwater excavation has been brought to a fine art and our Infomap GNSS* machine guidance system is essential in these areas.
How did Infomap come to be involved in Machine Guidance?
Our background has been of survey and mapping using traditional equipment, but the advent of GPS and now GNSS enabled a significant change in the way we surveyed. For over 4 years from 2004 we worked on 210kms (yes! kilometres) of the major gas pipelines in Wales using exclusively GNSS to carry out the pre-construction surveys, then the survey of the as-built position of the pipe in the ground prior to backfill, then the production of 420 final plan and profile drawings to complete the required information. At every stage, GNSS equipment was used along with ground modelling to create profiles from the survey data. This experience showed us that machine guidance in construction was absolutely essential. Our unique GNSS machine guidance demonstrator is the result of our desire to bring all our experiences together and show a better way of doing things in construction.
What is the difference between GPS and the new GNSS?
GNSS : "Global Navigation Satellite System"; any of, or the collective combination of, the operational spaceborne radionavigation systems, at this time comprised of the Navstar GPS (USA)system and the GLONASS (Russian Federation) system. GPS: "Global Positioning System"; a specific spaceborne radionavigation system financed and operated by the U.S. Department of Defense Systems under construction include the European Union “Galileo” and the Chinese “Compass” GNSS.
What skills will an excavator driver need to work with this system?
No extra skills are needed, but a short time of familiarisation would take place.
What happens when components are broken?
Infomap keep spare cables and the Prolec system components are next day delivery maximum.
Would I actually need additional staff or could I actually save staff costs?
Only you could decide that – It may be that staff currently employed in site engineering may have duties lessened or changed to oversee/organise such systems as are in use.
What support can Infomap give if I needed help quickly?
We are always available to give immediate help, either by telephone, or if necessary on site support. Arrangement can be made for paid support as required.
Can my site engineers be trained to provide ground models and manage the systems?
Yes! N4CE(Enforce)/LSS/Terramodel are the main ground modelling software packages in the UK, and as long as the correct format (DXF) is exported to the Prolec computer, the design will be accepted for the in-cab display.
Can the excavator operator record the excavation in progress?
Yes! A progress map on-screen shows the work progress.
Can I record specific points for QA of the work?
Yes! The operator touches the relevant user specified bucket end on to a location and can record that location, effectively surveying it.
What about multiple buckets?
Yes! Not a problem. When your machine is calibrated, every bucket you need to use can be measured and these values stored with an appropriate name in the bucket library. When you physically swap your bucket, it takes only a few seconds to let the system know the bucket has changed, and it will appear in the display.
What about tilting hitch buckets?
Yes! Not a problem. Simply add (when the machine is set up and calibrated) an additional angle sensor to show the left and right angle movements of the bucket, the system will know automatically there is a tilting bucket in use and it will appear in real time in the display.