The trials, said to be a UK first, started on 2nd November 2020 on a BAM site in Southampton. Trials are planned to continue across other sites in the UK over the coming months.
The semi-automation is powered by Leica’s new MC1 GPS machine control platform. A Kobelco SK210 excavator has been fitted with a P4 hydraulic pump system, a fully installed Leica MC1 machine control platform with valve control unit and an SMP ST22 tilt rotator.
The GPS automatically controls boom, bucket, and tilt rotator functions to dig faster and more accurately to the target design surface and cross slope.
The new solution requires the installation of a hydraulic control unit. It has several new functions:
- engagement of the auto function by pulling the stick
- cross-cut surface protection prevents the operator from digging into other parts of the design surface
- automatically adjusts the bucket height to minimise over-excavation
- intelligent slope detection to snap to the correct slope of the surface under the bucket
- rotation controlled cross-cut, combining the auto bucket and the auto tilt functions to match the target surface regardless of the bucket rotation.
“Automating the excavator on a jobsite will increase productivity and accuracy, decrease operator fatigue and fuel consumption,” said Kris Maas, product management director in the machine control division at Leica Geosystems. “I am convinced that a more focused and alert operator is a safer operator, decreasing the risk of accidents and costly rework errors.”
Plantforce operations director Sam Mercer said: “We are very excited to see the future of machine control advancing at such a fast rate for our customers, and as a supplier to some of the largest infrastructure projects we feel it’s our duty to push such innovations to the forefront of the industry.”