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Tue February 18 2020

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Scottish plant specialist expands use of Trimble machine control

6 Feb 19 JKR Contractors is now Scotland’s largest operator of Trimble machine-controlled plant and credits the technology with helping the business expand and attract talent.

A deal with Sitech UK & Ireland has increased the size of JKR’s connected fleet to 14 units. The company said that its latest investment in the new Trimble Earthworks for Excavators system and the move to Trimble Connected Community has helped secure two multi-million-pound contracts, the largest it has ever undertaken.

JKR first introduced Trimble machine control with four units in 2013. Director Kevin Taylor said: “In the last few years we have really developed our machine control offering, purchasing new equipment with our excavators now fitted with Steelwrist Tiltrotators. We have also invested in staff numbers and training for our own operators and engineers, significantly increasing our capabilities.”

This has allowed the company to expand its civil engineering and house building work away from its Aberdeen base and has helped it to secure large projects as far away as Elgin and Dundee.

“It is securing these large projects and the five-hour round trips to visit them from our head office, that has led to us investing in Trimble Connected Community, with support from Sitech and upgrading units to the latest Trimble Earthworks solution,” added Taylor. “This has allowed us to centralise our engineering function at our head office, sending our Trimble Business Centre earthworks models to machines directly, using the TCC cloud system.

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“Practically this replaces the need for engineers to go to site and manually upload models to the individuals machines via USBs. It also means that the machines can send us information remotely, updating the as built models in real-time as we have to provide this information to our customers. This streamlines the whole process, allowing us to share data much quicker, whilst reducing unproductive engineer time due to travel. This has had a knock-on effect of fuel reduction and by reducing annual mileage and is much safer for our staff.”

Taylor said that revenue per employee has grown significantly and this has helped the business expand with confidence. “We have increased our engineering capacity and also recognised how machine control can reduce the number of operatives on site,” he said. “Interestingly, with the shortage of skilled operators, we have not only upskilled our own team, we have also found it easier to attract talent to the business, as operators want to be using the latest technology. 

“Commercially, we have not only had the confidence to expand our reach, but also the size and type of project we tender for and win. For example, our latest contract with Bancon Homes at Rowett in Aberdeen, was tendered as a lump earthworks package involving 140,000 cubic metres of material, the biggest project of its type in the area. Because of the accuracy of the machine control, which ensures we don’t over or under dig or doze, we can significantly reduce waste and more accurately manage materials on site. This in turn cuts down machine and vehicle movements, reducing fuel and maintenance costs. Equally, by creating the earthworks model for the project at the tender stage, we were able to show how we could value engineer the project.”

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