by SITECH UK-Ireland | Nov 25, 2020 | Case Study
Ground Developments Ltd (GDL) is one of the UK’s leading specialist ground engineering contractors, who offers services including soil stabilisation, ground improvement, deep soil mixing, earthworks and vibro piling.
To improve measuring accuracy, operational efficiency and gain a competitive advantage, GDL approached SITECH UK and Ireland, a leading distributor of Trimble® machine control technology, to upgrade its fleet to machine control. Wayne Barr, Projects Director and Julius Newman, Technical Director at GDL help us to understand their utilisation of machine control.
Based in Whitburn, Scotland, GDL works with contractors and designers to offer complete geotechnical solutions to help prepare construction sites for new developments and infrastructure. The company operates a large plant fleet, including excavators of up to 55 tonnes, dozers and heavy compaction equipment, with control guidance installed by SITECH. The company undertakes standalone earthworks and soil stabilisation projects and it also offers integrated ground engineering solutions.
Back in 2010, GDL noticed that the sites it was working on were becoming more complex and that the variation in topographies was making it difficult to mark out sites using traditional stakes and pegs. GDL also needed a way of controlling the progress of the material it placed to ensure that it reached the necessary depths while meeting tight project deadlines.
“The type of work we were pursuing, and the constraints required in delivery, meant that we needed increased precision while maintaining and gaining efficiency. The original methodology wasn’t adequate, and this was an issue for us,” explained Julius Newman, Technical Director at Ground Developments Ltd. “As our construction methods evolved, we needed to obtain data quicker. We required real-time information at the work face. Accuracy is of paramount importance in construction, and it has to be delivered quickly, while maintaining safety. It had been a challenge to monitor machine operations quickly enough to ensure the accuracy of build was being achieved.
“We were already aware of Trimble’s machine control software and we began using it as soon as possible — we were one of the first companies in Scotland to do so,” added Wayne Barr, Project Director at Ground Developments Ltd. “We originally worked with another supplier. However, we were looking for a partner that knew about soil stabilisation, and who would understand us a business. We got in touch with Brian Core, who was the Technical Sales Consultant at that time, and the ball started rolling from there.”
“One of the first impressions we had of SITECH was that its engineers were highly skilled and that they were very knowledgeable about earthworks — one of our key industries,” continued Newman. “While we already had some experience of Trimble products, SITECH invited a couple of our operatives down to Newcastle and gave a demonstration of the different applications that were on the market. It also allowed us to try out some of the equipment to get a feel for ourselves.”
“As a supplier, we had previously worked with other earthworks businesses and we understood why Ground Developments wanted to move towards machine control,” explained Brian Core, Key Accounts Manager at SITECH. “Complex site designs and topographies can be a real barrier to the ground improvement services that the company offers.
Trimble solutions are intuitive and designed with the operator in mind. Using machine control software allowed GDL to visualise the grade and have the final levels on its machines, meaning its operators could dig to the design when bringing soil up to a certain level and mixing in the layers,” added Core.
“Thanks to our partnership with SITECH over the last ten years, our productivity has increased immeasurably,” added Barr. “In 2010 we were targeting to move 800 cubes of modified material a day — now we’re targeting 1,500 because of our improved efficiency. Using Trimble solutions has meant that we can also monitor and keep a collection of our site data to gauge output in a way that we couldn’t prior to 2010.”
“For us, the results have been about the quality of work that we deliver and how good the finished projects look,” added Barr. “In the last three years, we have won a lot of repeat business because clients are happy with the work we delivered previously. Quality, as always, is imperative. However, the weather and other current influences often impact on time available to handover. Therefore, getting the work done right the first time is absolutely critical.
“With the Earthworks and GCS site positioning systems, machine control technology, office software and WorksManager cloud system, GDL can carry out stabilisation and earthworks projects quicker and more accurately,” continued Core. “It is a more efficient way of working, which means it can complete projects in shorter timeframes and handover to the house builder faster than other businesses. Over time, this has given it a competitive advantage and the company is now winning more tenders than ever because it can quantify more accurately and offer shorter timeframes.”
“We’ve been working closely with Brian for the last eight years and he has been an excellent partner,” continued Barr. “One of the reasons we’ve remained with SITECH for so long is it doesn’t just see us as a customer, but as a partner in a joint SITECH-GDL venture. We speak to the team on a weekly basis and, if there’s ever an issue, we know we can pick up the phone and someone will be able to provide technical assistance.”