Xsite machine guidance – “Like an extra pair of eyes”
January 23, 2020
A street renovation is underway on the Lamminpää district on the outskirts of Tampere. Giving finishing touches to the site is Mr. Tomi Ala-Kokko, who has brought along a CAT M316D wheeled excavator, equipped with the Xsite PRO 3D machine guidance system.
Tomi Ala-Kokko has been using the Xsite PRO 3D machine guidance system in his excavator for two years. The antenna masts at the rear of the machine reveal that the machine is equipped with a 3D machine guidance system.
A one-man enterprise with an Xsite® PRO
Maanrakennus Tomi Ala-Kokko is a one-man earthmoving enterprise focused on contracting work commissioned by the city of Tampere. Tomi began work on earthmoving in 1995. At the time, he still had a job at a board mill. “My cousin’s husband had an earthmoving company; after my shift at the mill, I used to try my hand at an excavator using his machinery,” Tomi says. “In the end, I became so enthusiastic about excavating that I spent all my spare time digging holes,” he comments.
In 2006, he decided to change career, taking a full-time job as an excavator operator. Nine years later, he started his own company. He now has three earthmoving machines. A wheeled CAT M316D excavator, his principal tool, and a two-tonne rubber track CAT 301.7D excavator. In addition, Tomi has a Canicom track dumper which he uses for contracts at smaller sites such as yards. On the CAT, he has the Xsite PRO 3D machine guidance system, which he purchased two years ago from the local Xsite dealer, Novatron.
Working for the city of Tampere with 3D machine guidance
In 2017, when the city of Tampere introduced competitive tendering in civil engineering, Tomi knew that acquiring a 3D machine guidance system would be advantageous. This was due to the growing use of model-based working and machine guidance.
When choosing between machine guidance systems, Tomi’s criteria were cost and recommendations by friends. “Some contractors I knew were using the Xsite machine guidance system, and they told me that it had worked superbly well for them. And this is indeed the case,” he says.
In Tampere, he moves between several worksites. Last autumn, for example, he worked on street renovations until the snow arrived, moving after that to the other side of the city, to work on the construction site of a new residential area. Lately, he has been putting the finishing touches to a street renovation in the Lamminpää district and has worked several times in the Haukiluoma district, helping to build a noise bund.
“Machine guidance is like an extra pair of eyes”
When Tomi Ala-Kokko adopted the Xsite machine guidance system, he felt that learning how to use it was easy and intuitive. He became familiar with its benefits one site at a time. Tomi also participated in machine guidance training provided by the local Xsite dealer.
Whenever he had questions on use of the system, Tomi contacted Xsite’s technical support, which provided him with guidance over a remote connection. The remote connection enables Xsite’s technical support staff to access the system remotely, getting the same view of the systems screen with the operator. This makes user guidance and troubleshooting quick and easy, and the operator does not need to unnecessarily await help at the site.
Now, after using the Xsite system for two years, Tomi calls it is “his second pair of eyes.” “The human eye can be deceptive – if there are sloping surfaces nearby, and you are supposed to create an even surface, you can easily be misled by other nearby shapes such as banks or trees. Your eyes tell you that the surface you are working on is even, but the machine guidance system tells you a different story. In such cases, the system is telling the truth,” Tomi says, laughing.
Adding the finishing touch. According to Tomi, the best thing about the Xsite system is its ease-of-use. “The Xsite 3D system provides the operator with a visualization of the surfaces and shapes being worked on, including the locations of lampposts and manholes.”
Wide range of benefits from Xsite® PRO
Tomi makes versatile use of the machine guidance system at work. The system has been useful when working on yards, pipelines and street contracts. “In a noise bund contract, only one surface layer was constructed, and this was based on machine guidance, which was a great help. Machine guidance made it really easy to shape the surface as desired. At the same time, you could be sure that the surface had the right elevation,” Tomi says.
The elevation of the bucket in relation to the desired surface is shown on the Xsite PRO’s dislay in real time.
The system receives the necessary machine guidance models, or 3D models, over a wireless connection from a cloud service. For smaller contracts, usually a surveyor brings machine guidance models to the operator on a USB stick.
According to Tomi, the best thing about Xsite’s 3D system is its ease-of-use. “The Xsite 3D system provides the operator with an image of the surfaces and shapes on which the operator is working, including the locations of lampposts and manholes. In some cases, of course, you would do just as well without 3D (satellite positioning), but you would then need a surveyor to take measurements of elevations. Using the Xsite PRO 3D, I can take the elevations myself using my bucket, which makes the work more efficient,” Tomi comments.