Pile drivers are among the largest and heaviest machines used in heavy construction. The operator needs to be precise, good in multilimbed coordination and depth perception, and have a very short reaction time. Attention to the environment and people around the machine is very important when moving heavy piles to the right location. Thus, new digital positioning technology aims to help pile driver operators to ease and automate the guidance of the machine so that they can focus more on safety or other vital functions.
Providing reliable 3D guidance systems is how Leica Geosystems’ 200-year expertise in accurate positioning technology can help the industry be more efficient, safe, sustainable and productive. This is why Michael Fuchs, a pile driver operator at Birchmeier Spezialtiefbau AG, uses the 3D machine control solution from Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon, when working with his Liebherr 355 piling rig on the foundation of a new water police station at the shores of Lake Zürich.
“It is easier, more comfortable and centimetre accurate with 3D machine control,” says Fuchs. “Previously, without machine control, we had to wait for a surveying firm to stakeout the points. But now, the up-to-date 3D plan is sent directly from the office to the machine control panel. I can have a full overview of the work that needs to be done or has been already completed.”
It is 7 a.m., and Fuchs is doing a site inspection with foremen Andreas Gassmann before starting today’s piling job on the ground stabilisation project they are working on at the shores of Lake Zürich. Birchmeier Spezialtiefbau AG was contracted to carry out the deep foundation of a new building for the water police, where Fuchs needs to drive more than 150 piles into the wet ground.
After checking the site conditions and the plan, the operator sits in his comfortable Liebherr 355 piling rig and turns on the Leica iCON iRP3 3D machine control solution. Once Fuchs checked that the GPS signals are available through the Leica iCON gps 80 machine receiver and the Leica iCON GNSS antennas mounted on the rig’s tower, he loads the 3D plan directly into the machine control panel using the Leica ConX cloud solution.
Accurate location data is key for precise positioning. Thus, Birchmeier Spezialtiefbau AG is subscribed to a GNSS correction service, such as HxGN SmartNet, that provides a precise location for all of their instruments simply through mobile internet. Such correction services provide real-time GNSS correction service for precise location through the machine control panel to the entire system.
Birchmeier Spezialtiefbau AG has chosen Hexagon as a technology partner because they can benefit from an entire piling solution, not just a single product, including:
• Leica iCON iRP3 3D machine control solution
• Leica iCON GNSS antennas mounted on the pile driver’s tower
• Leica ConX cloud-based collaboration platform to connect the field with the office
• GNSS correction service to all of their on-site equipment
• Leica iCON gps 80 machine receiver
• Leica iCON gps 70 GNSS Smart Antenna for quick check and verification used by the foremen.
In the meantime, the site is prepared for today’s tasks; the truck with the concrete piles has arrived. Fuchs needs to load each pile to the machine and then guide his Liebherr pile driver to the right location. The machine performs two functions:
1. The pile driver acts as a crane, lifting and rotating the pile into the correct vertical position.
2. It hammers the pile down into the ground.
“The machine control solution automatically navigates me to the planned location with centimetre precision,” says the operator. “Thus, I can focus more on safety and the movement with the piles.”
Fuchs only needs to choose which pile is next on the screen, and the system helps him locate the pile by signing with red or green colours how far he is from the right location. For this precision, accurate GNSS and location data are vital. Once Fuchs is at the right location, his pile driver needs to hold the pile perfectly vertical and then the hammering starts. As this pile is driven into the ground, Fuchs lifts another pile on top of it, and the welder joins them. This workflow and routine continue throughout the day.
“With machine control, I can save up to 5 minutes per pile,” states Fuchs. “But not only time, but we can also save a lot by trusting the system and not staking out the pile patterns manually.”
Fuchs enjoys working with Leica Geosystems’ machine control technology because “it is easy to use, precise and there is always support when needed. I only need to call the support team at Leica Geosystems, and they troubleshoot and fix any problems in 10 minutes.”
By choosing Hexagon, Birchmeier Spezialtiefbau AG not only gained a technology provider but a trusted partner when it has to be right.