How Machine Control Can Transform Construction

Posted by Matt Lacey on

As part of Surveytech’s mission to help the industry to understand and adopt new technology, we’ve asked Graham Brown - our new Head of Machine Control - how this technology can transform the construction industry. Graham joins Surveytech with a wealth of experience in the sector, having recently worked as a Machine Control support engineer for Lynch Plant Hire and Leica Geosystems. Before that, he also worked as a site engineer and drone surveyor, so can bring a practical perspective on how the technology has developed and can be utilised to improve productivity in groundworks, civil engineering and construction. You can find Graham's thoughts below and follow his adventures installing on excavators, wheel loaders, dozers and more through his instagram account @gb_machinecontrol

Machine control sensors mounted to Excavator

"Whilst a wise person will hold onto previously used tools and ensure skills learned are not forgotten, if that person is also adaptable they will discover additional ways to transform the way in which they work.

Two decades on from when GPS first started to assist plant operators on site, the technology and solutions are more capable, cost effective and easier to use. “Machine Control Made Simple” is the refreshing concept designed by Unicontrol, who have developed a system in close cooperation with experts and contractors all with the aim of giving the operator 3D machine control that is simple to use.

Exact measurements of the machine, fast sensors, satellite receivers and a screen in the cab with the site drawings allows the operator to relate their bucket cutting edge precisely to works required.  The 3D model on the tablet is at the drivers fingertips allowing them to see and visualise the design whether it’s a foundation, road, pond, small or large.  Cut and fill figures are instantly shown on the screen along with distances to lines and points.  




Clouds aren’t just what site personnel are keeping an eye on hoping the rain will hold off.  Designs and data are now in the cloud ensuring all excavators have the correct current models and revised information as soon as it’s left the drawing board.  Survey with the bucket focus point and the as-built data of finished work is available to the office instantly.  Pipe ends and gulley pots positions can be recorded to be found again easily at a later date.  No need to wait for an engineer or to leave markers in the ground or on kerbs - the operator knows exactly where to find them again.

Support is always at hand too with remote cloud access . Issues and questions can be dealt with promptly from literally anywhere in the world.

Machines don’t just rely on the American GPS global positioning system anymore.  Unicontrol for example provides as standard access to all four Global Navigation Satellite Systems.  GPS (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU) and BeiDou (China).

Excavator with Unicontrol Machine Control installed


Operators of plant machinery throughout construction are welcoming a transformation from traditional workflows to modern productive solutions embracing machine control, becoming more independent yet more connected and involved.  As one contractor starts their journey and begins to recognise the benefits of the technology their competition and acquaintances in the industry start to realise that they may be falling behind.  To remain competitive it becomes their turn to adapt, adopt and discover a more productive and sustainable future."  

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