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Topcon’s mmGPS: The Future of Machine Control Accuracy

In recent years, road paving systems and solutions have progressed noticeably thanks to technology-driven improvements on site. Work is being completed to a higher standard, with more efficient use of materials and resources.

Machine Control systems like the Topcon mmGPS uses satellite positioning to enhance performance, follow complex designs, and offer increased safety and efficiency during a project.

Combining the accuracy and reliability of laser technology with the convenience of GNSS 3D positioning, contractors are able to control an unlimited number of rovers with a vertical accuracy that rivals that of the robotic total station. The simple set up and high accuracy makes for a more cost-effective operation, allowing contractors to significantly increase productivity - here’s why.

Easy to Set Up

Setting up the mmGPS system is simple and takes little to no technical knowledge. Without having to rely on getting a surveyor on site, contractors are able to position and operate the system within minutes when they need it each day.

Once the tripod is positioned and a known mark has been established, the LZ-T5 laser transmitter will provide a vertical working area of 10 metres vertically and 600 metres horizontally. This requires minimal labour input from technical staff, and operators only need to spend a few minutes setting up and checking the system throughout the day to ensure maximum accuracy is achieved at all times.

Traditional methods are either more time and labour intensive, or require technical expertise not immediately available on site. For example, setting up pegs and string lines requires valuable time and effort that could be spent elsewhere, as well as needing a qualified surveyor on site to measure for accuracy.

During a project on the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, when asked about this common method, Mike Graham from Higgins said,

"Can you imagine if we were using string lines and needed a surveyor every 20 metres or so for 22 kms – on both sides? With an intolerance of 5mms?! That quickly adds up. This way we’re better, faster, cheaper and more accurate."

Additionally, laying out pegs and string lines can often cause an obstruction, with other machines and vehicles on site having to work around them. In contrast to this, the Topcon mmGPS system can be seamlessly connected across the site without creating issues in regard to access.

Check out this video showing construction at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, where their biggest advantage to using Topcon mmGPS is the stringless management of multiple plant equipment:

High Accuracy

A system with high vertical accuracy provides a number of competitive advantages and allows contractors to complete jobs with a high level of certainty.

Topcon’s mmGPS is a unique system that utilises a combination of GNSS positioning and a high precision laser transmitter to achieve +/- 3 millimetre accuracy for applications such as grading, kerbing and slipform paving - an accuracy improvement of 300% compared to conventional GPS.

For instance, working on a project with existing roads can require a lot of resources, such as traffic management for road closures, and can take a considerable amount of time using traditional methods. This can get frustrating, not only for the client, but also the general public navigating road works.

The Topcon mmGPS system is quick to set up and get going, and contractors are able to distribute a repeatable height reference to multiple receivers at the same time on one site. This consistency and repeatability during big projects helps to significantly reduce the time workers spend on each job.

Operators also appreciate the mmGPS system for the vertical consistency that it gives, considering some of the issues that can come from other systems. For example, other equipment on site obstructing the beam of a robotic total station can cause interference, which can be challenging and time consuming to set up again.

Alternatively, with conventional GPS, if an operator isn’t within a certain range of the network, it can be difficult to maintain an accurate vertical height. With mmGPS on the other hand, if the line of sight to the transmitter is obstructed, the system will slowly transition back to the GNSS vertical solution. Once the transmitter is back in range, mmGPS reverts back to the more accurate laser augmented vertical solution.

Cost Effective

Jobs are being completed more efficiently thanks to the easy set up and operation of the mmGPS system, allowing operators to carry out work with fewer interruptions. While a robotic total station might be able to achieve a good level of accuracy, the Topcon mmGPS does not require the user to complete resections each day, hugely increasing productivity.

The ability to work to design and within the given tolerance consistently, especially on bigger projects, saves time, money and materials that can come from reworking. Additionally, being able to deliver a more durable and long-lasting end-product from the get-go will require less maintenance in the long run.

Another significant benefit can be attributed to the system’s ability to connect to multiple machines, at different heights, on the same site without interference. Currently, high vertical positioning is controlled by an optical or robotic total station, which works well, but only has the capacity to control one rover at a time. mmGPS uses a patented rotating fan laser, allowing users to connect to multiple graders, rovers and machines working off the same gear, maximising time and labour, and saving resources all round.

The initial capital outlay for the Topcon mmGPS system is insignificant when compared to the benefits and returns that it could provide to a business. It’s reliable and robust, and will last a lifetime when cared for and serviced properly. mmGPS is also around half the cost of a robotic total station.

The competitive edge that comes with using the latest technology means that contractors are able to analyse and plan their construction processes before they start, then complete them with absolute confidence every time.

If you're ready to maximise your productivity on site with the TopCon mmGPS, get in touch with the team today. 

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