Using Jobsite Connectivity to Support Machine Control and Site Positioning Systems
March 22, 2023

Jobsite Connectivity gives useful life to digital workflows. 

Digital workflows are improving every aspect of the construction process from preconstruction to civil engineering, structural work, MEP, and project management. This impacts scheduling, procurement, time-keeping, job costing, prefabrication, and just about every process both in the back office and the field. Cloud-based collaboration is a game changer – project teams can share complex files, 3D models, review changes, and coordinate schedule to better run projects. 

Strong jobsite networks are a key component allowing for the expedient and reliable transfer of 3D data sets and large files. Without a robust jobsite network, digital workflows unwind quickly. This is an important, albeit often overlooked, aspect in the construction technology stack. 

An initiative to connect models with the field.

There is a broad initiative across the construction industry to make detail from 3D models (building information models, jobsite surveys, etc.) available to teams in the field who are doing the work. The movement is important for many reasons. It improves construction accuracy, prevents expensive rework, shares design changes in real-time, and makes important information available to teams across the project. 

This model-to-field trend is impacting civil engineering where the grading done by heavy earth-moving machines can be guided on the jobsite using surveying data and 3D digital models. Dozers, graders, backhoes, and dump trucks are expensive to operate. By utilizing accurate construction-ready models in the field, equipment operators can minimize machine idling and the fuel expenses that accompany it.

Benefits from connecting 3D models to the field:

  • Utilize accurate construction-ready models in the field.
  • Interoperability between teams gives you a single source of truth.
  • Linking projects across the field and office improves communication.
  • Transferring designs remotely sends information to field teams in real-time.
  • Project managers can manage activity remotely and track progress against plan in real-time.
  • Stakeholders can make data-driven decisions.

How machine control and site positioning improve civil construction.

During the initial phase of construction, civil engineering takes a front seat. Because earthwork precedes structural work like laying foundations and pouring footers, accuracy is the primary objective. Civil engineering teams use machine control systems and digital site positioning tools for more precise work. 

Site positioning technology uses GPS-based surveying data to support stakeout and generate more accurate construction measurements. For example, Trimble’s Business Center software helps construction surveyors quickly collect large data sets and create complex 3D models more easily. This helps calculate earthwork and material quantities for bids and gives excavation crews more accurate construction measurements.

GPS-driven machine control keeps dozers and graders on the right path based on engineering models and can even manage blade angle to improve the accuracy of finish grading. Grade control features combine GPS positioning data and 3D jobsite models for accurate finish grading.

Together, site positioning and machine control technology help civil engineers and excavation teams accurately survey jobsites, create 3D topographic models, and control equipment on the jobsite for greater grading accuracy. This prevents costly rework and reduces machine idling, fuel costs, and wasted time.

Jobsite connectivity is an important prerequisite for site positioning technology.

Site positioning technology uses GPS technology to map coordinates and the jobsite network to transfer model data via the internet. IoT devices like total stations and digital surveying poles use an electronic data collector and storage system that requires internet connectivity to transfer data. It is not uncommon for project managers to find out they have a gap in the digital workflow when a reliable internet signal is unavailable on the jobsite. 

This may be just a few dead zones or no internet at all and may be due to any number of reasons. Remote jobsites, hard-to-reach jobsites, nearby restrictions from civil or military infrastructure – all might make it difficult to get a good signal. 

When this issue happens, builders can turn to temporary cellular internet, private LTE, and even custom connectivity kits to solve the problem. For example, ConstructEdge built custom connectivity kits including solar power and mobile access points to support a bridge replacement project where barges on the water relied on accurate positioning.

Once the field of work across the jobsite is blanketed with connectivity, the site positioning and machine control systems used in civil engineering can be fully optimized. 

Benefits from Jobsite Connectivity and Machine Control in Civil Engineering

Jobsite connectivity and machine control give civil engineering contractors an important tool to improve accuracy and work more efficiently. The most obvious benefit is greater finished grade accuracy with fewer passes. However, it’s important not to overlook reductions in maintenance, fuel, and operator costs.

Jobsite Network Benefits:

Blanket the field of work with connectivity
Eliminate gaps in data upload
Greater security (Private LTE)

Machine Control in Civil Engineering:

Greater finished-grade accuracy with fewer passes
Less time/cost for heavy equipment
Prevention of rework
Increased jobsite safety

With jobsite networks managed by ConstructEdge, stakeholders have access to pertinent project data no matter where they are—on the jobsite, in the office, or on-the-go. Civil contractors, project managers, and other stakeholders can optimize site positioning and equipment control technology. Learn more about how we can help your teams access project information without interruption!