Is machine control technology worth the cost? Contractors that have made the investment cite multiple benefits, but building a business case requires hard numbers. How much can you expect to save by implementing machine control on your projects? Is there a way to calculate the return upfront – before you make your investment?
If you’re doing earthwork for road construction projects, this ROI calculator is a great place to start. The calculator breaks machine control ROI into four key savings: road production, material, staking and blue topping. Based on parameters you enter, the calculator provides a summary of savings per mile, along with the estimated number of miles before payback.
Road Production Savings
One of the primary ways machine control brings savings in road construction projects is in the reduced number of passes required to achieve final grade. Simply enter the distance of road you are working on per day (in feet); the number of passes it would take to reach grade using your existing equipment; and your total daily costs for this work. Then at the top right, enter the number of passes saved using machine control.
You can estimate this number based on your experience with rented Leica machine control, but let’s just say you saved one pass. If your costs are currently $2500 per day, your production savings are 14% or $1,650 per mile. If you save two passes, productivity increases by 29% and your savings per mile are $2,933.
With GPS technology, you can more accurately calculate the material costs for the jobsite. A higher level of accuracy in your material estimates reduces wasted time and energy removing excess material from the jobsite or trucking in material because you removed too much. Material savings really add up.
Based on a 38-foot-wide road, reducing the amount of material needed by just 1% would yield a savings of more than $2,500 per mile. Contractors using 3D machine control technology are typically able to reduce their material costs by 2%, or more than $5,000 per mile.
Driving wooden stakes in the ground to identify the approximate grade before utilities are installed is a laborious task that may have to be repeated several times due to stakes being knocked over during the construction process. With GPS grade control, the design plan is uploaded to the machine. With broadcasted radio corrections from onsite GPS base stations rovers and machines in the field, grading is completed with high accuracy. Far less time is spent waiting for surveyors to check the completed work.
To calculate your estimated savings on staking, simply enter the number of surveyors working your jobsite and their hourly rate, as well as the number of lifts staked. Our calculator estimates that two surveyors working at an hourly rate of $110 per hour would be able to stake 5,280 feet at a cost of $3,520 per mile. With grade control, the number of stakes is reduced by 80% at a cost savings of $2,816.
Blue Topping Savings
When it comes to setting the final grade, 99% of blue topping staking can be eliminated when using machine control. Use the calculator to enter your costs for surveyors and other job details. With machine control, a $7,040 cost per mile for blue topping can be reduced by a whopping $6,970 per mile.
More Savings Per Mile Means a Quicker Payback
Even with our overly conservative estimates, savings added up to $13,941 per mile.
The next step is to determine how many miles of grading work will be needed to pay off the cost of your investment. In our example, a $65,000 investment would be paid off after 4.66 miles of work. Once paid for, machine control continues to yield savings that go right to the bottom line. Enter the number of miles you will grade in a year to calculate your earnings after the payoff.
Other ROI Contributions
The calculator includes only the hard savings from machine control, but there are other benefits that can contribute to your ROI. For example:
- If it takes two days to complete a job that once took four days, that’s two days that are now free to take on additional jobs.
- Fewer passes to achieve finer grade means you’ll be using less fuel and reducing wear and tear on your machines.
- Fewer people on the ground makes your company a safer place to work, which could result in reduced insurance premiums.
- The ability to achieve quality results with less experienced equipment operators enables you to keep pace with your projects and even expand your operations, despite the continued labor shortage.
- If your technology dealer provides outstanding service and support, that will give you the confidence to take on new projects and grow your business.
Crunching the numbers is a great place to start when you are thinking about an investment in machine control. Give it a try and see how the numbers work out for you.
Remember your Leica representative will be there to help you every step of the way with guidance on system selection, training and service and support. Contact us to learn more.