Improvement of Highway E75 – machine control in a major project
March 19, 2019
Highway 4 runs all the way through Finland, from Helsinki to Utsjoki. It is one of the country’s most important main arteries and the key road connection between southern and northern Finland. Highway 4 is also part of the E75, which is a European main international traffic artery. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (formerly the Finnish Transport Agency) began a road improvement project on the highway in 2017. The project includes a 122 km stretch between Oulu and Kemi. Olli Alatalo, the founder of one of our Finnish customers, Suomen Tehokaivu Oy, is at the controls of an excavator on the Kello-Räihänperä road section north of Oulu.
A Suomen Tehokaivu machine on the Kello-Räihänperä section. On this stretch, the main road is being widened to four lanes in order to improve safety and traffic flow. Machine control systems are at heavy use in the project.
Suomen Tehokaivu Oy is an earthworks company from Oulu, Finland. The maestro directing the company is Olli Alatalo, who spent 10 years in excavation work for another company before establishing the firm. As an experienced machine operator with a competitive streak, he decided to found his own company in 2016. During its three years in business, the company has grown quickly, and now has 11 of its own excavators and 14 employees. Contracts have included construction sites and street and road improvements. Suomen Tehokaivu Oy operates throughout Finland, from Ivalo to Helsinki.
“When operating an excavator, you need to keep an eye on the road as well as the display, and the machine control system should be simple and intuitive. That’s why Xsite® PRO is the number one,” says Alatalo.
Olli was forming the road substructure’s surface during the interview. A machine control system makes work much easier, by displaying in real time a 3D model of the target surface, and the height difference between the bucket and target surface. This makes the operator’s work more independent and faster.
Ease-of-use and data management play a key role
Olli was familiar with machine control systems before starting his own company. However, he had no experience of Novatron’s systems. Olli was introduced to Xsite® machine control and how the system works, when operating machines that belonged to friends in the excavation business. For Alatalo, the key difference to other manufacturers lies in the system interface and how 3D models are displayed, “When operating an excavator, you need to keep an eye on the road as well as the display, and the machine control system should be simple and intuitive. That’s why Xsite® PRO is the number one,” says Alatalo. When founding his company, Olli immediately decided to invest in Xsite® systems, which are now installed on all 11 of his machines. He appreciates the clear display of information needed for the work, and the fact that the operator can easily select which 3D models to view. Easy model selection is a highly valued feature, since hundreds of plans and files can be involved, particularly in large projects like Highway 4.
The main contractor on the Kello-Räihänperä section is Destia. Of the 11 excavators working on the section, nine are equipped with the Xsite® PRO 3D machine control system. This does not surprise Olli, because information flows quickly from the systems to site supervisors and back when Xsite® systems are used. On a construction site, the flow of information is particularly important in large projects.
Antti Heikkilä of Destia, who is the surveying manager of the project, agrees with Olli’s comments. Heikkilä says that Xsite® is the only option on sites with several sections and contractors. “Easy use of data and open, fast information flows are critical to these kinds of contracts,” explains Heikkilä. “Large infrastructure projects involve huge amounts of information, which changes as the construction plans are updated, for example. That is why it is important that all parties, from the customer onwards, receive the information they need in real time.”
Highway 4 is the main road connection between southern and northern Finland. It is also part of the E75, a European traffic artery. The road improvement project is located on a stretch between Oulu and Kemi.