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Housing developer finds machine control pays for itself

Digger Blogger | 11:00, Thu November 24 2022

Social housing developer First Endeavour has invested in a complete range of on- and off-machine technology from Sitech.

First Endeavour, a social housing developer with offices in Aberdeen and Fife, began discussions to fit their machines with Sitech Trimble technology six months ago after experiencing a shortage of skilled labour. The business has shifted to bring more of its building services in-house and new development sites had begun to stack up.

It has projects lined up for the next eight years for housing providers including Fife, Angus and Aberdeen councils.

In a drive to improve productivity, therefore, First Endeavour has invested in machine control, 3D designs, project monitoring and reporting technology. 

This includes four excavator Trimble 3D Earthworks Kits, a Trimble total station, a GNSS Rover and a drone with Trimble Stratus and Trimble Business Centre modelling.

Scott Napier, engineering manager at First Endeavour, says: “We’ve purchased four 20-tonne excavators and two 14-tonne excavators, which Sitech have fitted with Trimble, technology, and we’ve just purchased a 35-tonne excavator and two dump trucks which means we can do our own cut and fill so we’re making some big investments now.”

He continues: “When we began discussions with Liam [Payne, a sales rep] at Sitech we were looking for two more engineers and he explained how the technology could help us to progress projects, because we’re so busy with so many sites going through planning that I need to survey and engineer them as efficiently as possible and iron out any issues quickly.

“Surveying using the drone and Trimble Stratus has been a revelation to us as it is a one-stop shop. As soon as we purchase a site we now go out and survey it with the drone then the data goes into the Trimble Stratus software and I get the worksite map back within hours which I can go into and get all sorts of measurements and estimate volumes.

“Our surveyors are using it now to calculate volumes, completed distances and distances to be completed, and we give our clients access to the platform so they can see their site in its entirety while it’s in progress – which they really like.”

It also makes the engineering manager’s own life easier.

“From the office I can see where everything is being moved to and from, which saves me a lot of time with site visits. The Trimble Works Manager is fantastic for me as I can make changes, troubleshoot problems, and send solutions straight to the excavator,” he says.

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He admits that some of the operators had concerns about using machine control technology at first but after training from Sitech and with ongoing support, they now love how simple it is to use, he says, and the degree of accuracy it delivers.

“It’s so easy to use Trimble that I can’t fault it or the team at Sitech who always come back to me within the hour if I have an issue,” Napier adds.

And there is more to come…

“We’ve not finished investing in connected site technology, as we’ve saved over 15% on concrete alone just in relation to doing footings because of the accuracy of the GPS,” he says. “This may not seem a lot but at the volume of concrete we use it means the kit has almost paid for itself – and that’s not considering the time savings in terms of manpower.

“We now have a one-stop shop for projects from inception to completion and the technology from Sitech has certainly exceeded our expectations.”                                               

Liam Payne, regional sales representative at Sitech UK & Ireland, and a former site engineer himself, said the GPS setups, along with drone mapping through Trimble Stratus, can halve time on site profiling roads or setting up batter rails.

The sales rep adds: “It can also eliminate health and safety concerns for site operatives, helping to minimise the risk of suffering trips or falls and reducing the risks present when working around deep excavations.

“We gave Scott a demo on the Trimble SPS986 GPS rover, SPS720 Total Station and Trimble TSC7 survey controller then we talked about drone surveying because Scott oversees multiple sites which would take days to survey and process using more traditional methods. Stratus can carry out a survey in less than an hour and you receive it a few hours later fully processed ready to share with colleagues or clients.”

He concludes: “Initially Scott and some of his excavator operators were quite apprehensive about using the technology but now they wouldn’t go back, and it’s exciting to see how it is helping First Endeavour to grow.”


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