Revolutionary advances in 3D machine control technology promise to significantly enhance productivity. However, given the considerable investment that machine control requires, civil contractors are understandably keen to optimize their returns. An exceptional customer service team plays a crucial role in maximizing the benefits of machine control software investments.
This relationship between quality customer service and efficient use of technology was exemplified in the collaboration between Archer-United Joint Venture, Terrawise Solutions (formerly Construction Laser Inc.), and Leica Geosystems.
Case Study: The Midlands Connection Project
The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) initiated the construction phase of the Midlands Connection project, an endeavor aimed at revamping a 17-mile stretch of the Interstate 26 roadway system. Valued at $421 million, the project was the second-largest contract in the history of the SCDOT at the time. To successfully execute this project, SCDOT engaged with Archer-United, a joint venture of Archer Western and United Infrastructure Group.
From the outset, it was clear that meeting the demands of the project would require innovative approaches.
“While old-school tools are useful, they don’t keep you competitive in today’s market,” says Doug Browning, Survey Manager, Archer-United. “We had to take advantage of new technology to stay productive and competitive.”
Customer Service and Project Success
Acknowledging the complexity of the project, Archer-United needed a technology dealer that could provide comprehensive service and support, acting as an extension of their own operations. This dealer needed to be backed by a quality manufacturer with equally high customer service standards. Without such support, Archer-United risked facing costly errors, operational inefficiencies, and project delays — expenses that could jeopardize the project’s success.
“They supported us from day one. With a project of this size, having the support was critical for us and our equipment.”
Terrawise Solutions, a Leica distributor for GPS, machine control, and survey solutions, proved to be the ideal partner for Archer-United.
“They supported us from day one,” Browning explains. “With a project of this size, having the support was critical for us and our equipment.”
Given the scope of the project, Archer-United employed Leica Geosystems 3D machine control and survey technology. Equipment included five machine-controlled graders using the MC1 machine control software, alongside survey crews equipped with the Leica iCON gps 70 T smart antenna and a TS16 robotic total station. The scale of this undertaking required proficient systems to manage massive volumes of data and to ensure seamless data transfer from the office to the field.
“Our secret sauce is taking good care of the customer and understanding their specific project requirements,” says Stephen Bridges, Vice President, Terrawise Solutions. He also emphasizes the robust support he experiences from Leica Geosystems, saying, “We have excellent relationships with Leica personnel. They’ve got a lot of experienced professionals who can provide a lot of insight into the industry’s most pressing challenges.”
Customer Service and Innovation
When optimized, customer service extends beyond technical support to spur innovation. Archer-United continually explored ways to enhance productivity and unlock the full potential of their machine control software, actively collaborating with Terrawise Solutions experts.
Doug Browning explains, “When working with machine control in this field, you need support to bounce ideas off of. You’re constantly trying to think of new ways and utilize techniques to maximize its potential.”
For example, Doug has his sights set on how laser scanning could revolutionize cross-slope verification on Interstate roads in South Carolina. This verification is required and traditionally involved as-built surveys conducted using conventional methods.
“Instead of relying solely on conventional methods for cross sections over 50 or 100 feet, we believe utilizing point cloud technology would provide more accurate results,” Doug says. “We’re trying to demonstrate the benefits of this technology and encourage the state to update their specifications accordingly.”
Customer Service and Software Optimization
Customer service extends beyond mere machine operation. It also involves understanding how to efficiently utilize the software to conserve time. Terrawise Solutions aided Archer-United with integrating Leica ConX, a cloud-based collaboration tool for construction project management, into their daily routine.
For example, every morning Archer-United ensured that each unit was functioning with the correct project model and localization file. Any issues could be swiftly identified and addressed, avoiding a worst-case scenario of performing a day’s work only to find that it would need to be redone.
Stephen Bridges says, “The I-26 project is massive, and the amount of data flowing through that site is mind-boggling. I’ve never seen so many files going back and forth between the field and the office on a single project. When I think about how many hours would have been wasted in the past, with field crews having to come back and dump their data at the end of the day, and how many grading errors would have occurred because they were working off outdated models, it’s amazing to see how efficiently this project is being run with the proper equipment and technology.”
The interplay between 3D machine control technology and customer service is pivotal for project efficiency and success, as demonstrated by the collaboration between Archer-United, Terrawise Solutions, and Leica Geosystems. Significant productivity gains, effective data management, and efficient problem-solving can be achieved when cutting-edge technology is coupled with stellar customer service.
This successful undertaking underscores the importance of embracing innovative technology while prioritizing customer service when choosing technology partners — serving as a valuable model for other construction contractors.