D&M Excavating Completes Site Work with One Machine Instead of Two Using Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform

October 9, 2018 jwayo

D&M Excavating Completes Site Work with One Machine Instead of Two Using Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform


Site contractor uses Trimble Earthworks for Montgomery County Fairgrounds site work, reducing dozer use significantly, cutting operating costs and getting to grade faster


Customer Profile: Located outside of Dayton, Ohio, D&M Excavating delivers excavation and site development work for commercial and residential customers. Site work includes mass excavation, site grading and finish grading. From road construction projects to multi-family and plat developments, D&M Excavating is committed to site development excellence and premium customer service.

Business Challenge

D&M Excavating was looking to improve its excavation and grading productivity and machine utilization to reduce costs and complete jobs more quickly.


Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System and Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform


  • Cut dozer use significantly - Reduced reliance on dozer on fairgrounds project, significantly reducing fuel costs, cutting machine wear and tear and freeing up the dozer for other tasks and projects
  • Significant productivity gains during mass excavation and fine grading - With a 3D view of the project and grade progress inside the cab, operator doesn’t have to rely on stakes or grade checker to dig to correct depths
  • Demonstrates competitive advantage - Reaching grade more quickly and with less rework keeps projects moving forward and on schedule, which is appealing to general contractors and owners
  • Potential for big savings for pipe work – D&M purchased Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform for its new excavator for pipe work for greater grading productivity at a lower cost

Operating out of Tipp City, Ohio for more than 40 years, D&M Excavating has built a solid reputation as a top excavation and site contractor in the region. Today, the company has 30 employees and extensive experience across the complete spectrum of site development. The company works with several premier developers and general contractors throughout the area on plat development for residential and multi-family projects. D&M also takes on mass excavation, site grading, and grading work for building pads, streets and parking areas, stone sub-base for asphalt paving, finish grading, site demolition, clearing, and utility work, such as storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water mains.

Jason Sink, a partner at D&M Excavating, explains that his company was hired in 2017 for the first phase of construction of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Dayton. Officials broke ground on the $15 million project in August 2017, and construction began around October of the same year with the goal to open in mid-July 2018.

Sink explains that for the 157-acre fairground project, D&M Excavating was hired for all site work, spanning approximately 80 acres. The project scope involved moving approximately 150,000 yards of dirt to prepare several parking areas, as well as arenas for showing animals, tractor pulls, rodeos and other fair events. Counting overflow parking, the completed parking grounds will accommodate up to 2,000 vehicles mostly on gravel and grass, and of that, 300 of the spots are designated for asphalt. Looking to improve grading productivity and to bring down project costs, D&M Excavating leveraged several Trimble solutions across this project.


Using GCS900 First

D&M Excavating has been using the Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System on several of its dozers for everything from bulk earthworks to fine grading for several years. The Trimble GCS900 system puts the design surfaces, grades and alignments inside the cab and uses construction technology to accurately position the blade in real time, guiding the dozer operator to cut directly to grade much more efficiently. The technology also eliminates the need to set stakes or to have a grade checker working continuously with the dozer operators to keep grading work on target.

Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform

For the Montgomery County Fairgrounds work, D&M Excavation also installed Trimble Earthworks on its John Deere 380 excavator. The team worked with its local dealer, SITECH of Ohio, on equipment set-up and installation. Trimble Earthworks is the industry’s first integrated 3D aftermarket grade control system with excavator automatics capabilities. The platform includes intuitive, easy-to-learn software that is extremely customizable and allows each operator to personalize the interface to maximize productivity. With Trimble Earthworks, the team’s experienced operator was able to cut everything directly to grade much more quickly, and then place gravel precisely across the fairground parking lots.

Better Equipment Utilization

In addition to the grading work required for the massive parking area and building pads, the fairground project also included a ‘ring road’ around the perimeter of the fairgrounds and event center. This road required the team to build a large open, v-shaped ditch to ensure proper drainage across the site. The ditches on each side of ring road spanned from five to six feet deep.

“We had to dig a v-shaped ditch for water flow that required us to dig out approximately 8,000 feet of ditches,” said Sink. “The beauty of using Trimble Earthworks is that we didn’t have to tie up the dozer to follow along behind the excavator to correct the slope. Without machine control technology, we’re basically paying to operate two machines. This technology frees up a dozer for something else, which is far more profitable and efficient.”


Sink explains that the grade control platform reduced the amount of time the dozer was needed on the fairgrounds project dramatically. For digging ditches and digging out three retention ponds, the dozer was needed half the time, compared to conventional methods without machine control. And, he anticipates similar savings on other projects in terms of cutting operating machine costs, fuel usage and freeing up the dozer for other tasks. Now the dozer can be used primarily for fine tuning the grade, pushing a small amount of dirt and wiping out the teeth marks on the ground, for instance.

Automatics Saves Time

With the Trimble Earthworks ‘automatics’ feature switched on, the system controls the boom and bucket according to the digital design. It essentially locks onto the grade and automatically adjusts and makes corrections on-the-fly, as needed. From there, the operator controls the stick, and the system helps prevent the machine from undercutting or overcutting. While a lot of D&M Excavating’s work is mass excavation, Sink explains the team’s operator did use the autos functionality the when getting close to grade. These capabilities provided a big benefit in terms of getting to grade faster.

“Just having a 3D view of grades helps the operator to see the job more clearly, and being able to make our own design to follow is helpful,” said Sink. “Trimble Earthworks in automatics mode just gets the grade so close the first time.”

Sink also appreciates that the autos functionality makes it easy to do the same work with smaller, more efficient equipment. “When we use autos on the excavator, instead of relying on the dozer, we estimate that it saves us approximately $65 per hour,” he said. “If you have a larger dozer, the savings would be far more because those machines are more expensive to operate.”

For the Montgomery County Fairgrounds project, D&M Excavating completed the job on time in just eight months and 18 days, allowing the fairgrounds to be open for the July 2018 County Fair. The on-time project finish was particularly significant because of the severe weather during the 2017/2018 winter months, which condensed the work schedule.

Faster Excavation for Retention Pond

Recently, D&M Excavation has also used Trimble Earthworks to dig out a several- acre retention pond to a depth of 18 to 20 feet for a residential construction project in Dayton. The site’s soft, clay soil made the excavation challenging. With grade control on his excavator, D&M’s operator was able to get to the correct elevation quickly.

“When using grade control in a wet pond scenario, the dozer may never have to get in the pond until you get above the proposed water line, because you have the 3D visual in the cab,” said Sink. “In that situation, you really know you’re using the right equipment and saving money.”


Looking Ahead to Setting Pipe

D&M Excavating has also recently purchased the Trimble Earthworks Grade Control platform for its Komatsu 360 hydraulic excavator. The team is currently using it for laying pipe for a large subdivision project. Sink explains that his operator likes that he can use the technology in automatics mode to set the slope of the trench to hit .5%, for example, and that the technology controls the boom and bucket to stay on grade, matching that alignment very efficiently.

This has helped saved time because the operator can work continuously and get much closer to the final pass, instead of having to stop work, ask the grade checker to climb into the trench and check grade, and then resuming excavation. The technology has also been valuable for laying pipe because it has reduced rework. Once operators hit final grade, they can lay the to optimal amount of gravel at the bottom of the ditch as bedding for the pipe. With accurate alignments and the pipe in the right location and at the right height, the four-man crew can keep moving forward with confidence. After laying the sewer lines, D&M Excavating plans to move on to laying water lines and storm sewer lines next.

“Using the automatic grade control for pipe work, we can see big benefits in increased accuracy, keeping our guys on target and moving forward, and less rework needed,” said Sink. “That’s good for us and for customers.”

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