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Reuscher Tiefbau deploys Trimble Earthworks on excavators for greater precision, speed and efficiency

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People standing next to a excavator

Since the introduction of the Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform for excavators, the team at Reuscher Tiefbau GmbH from Westerwald has been utilizing excavators equipped with Trimble Earthworks automatics. Now, every new excavator at Reuscher is pre-equipped accordingly. With this technology, the civil engineering company can work much more precisely and quickly than before. In addition, this investment provides considerable savings in a wide variety of ways.

Family-owned, third generation Reuscher Tiefbau GmbH is a medium-sized civil engineering and construction firm that prides itself on its forward looking focus. The Reuscher Tiefbau team is continually looking for ways to complete upcoming tasks better and more efficiently. 

Accordingly, the credo of senior boss Hans-Joachim Reuscher is: "We try everything that is new." 

He was already looking for a suitable 3D automatics system in 2016 and tested various solutions. "In 2017, we worked with a Trimble prototype for the first time,” he said. “This solution convinced us so much that we switched completely to Trimble technology. We now equip all excavators from 8-10 t in weight with the machine kit, because we work faster and more accurately with it."

A worker setting up the system on the excavator
SITECH service technicians are on hand to support customers in the set-up and fine-tuning of the automatic excavator. At Reuscher Tiefbau, Trimble first equipped the Hitachi ZX350-7 LCN excavator with the automatic system. Trimble can equip more than 120 excavator models from 13 manufacturers with the preparation for Earthworks.

Retrofit kits for all excavators
The advantages of grade control are so impactful that in recent years Reuscher Tiefbau bought only excavators Trimble could equip. Today, Trimble offers an aftermarket automatic system for excavators, which means Reuscher and his team no longer have to specifically seek out specific brands offering factory fitted equipment. 

"Regardless of the make, we can now use the Trimble Earthworks system, which can be implemented on various excavators across the fleet. It consists of an electronic control unit and a few 6-axis gyro sensors, which are attached to the boom and stick. There are also brackets for GNSS antennas and the radio modem," explains Timo Hoffmann, applications engineer at Trimble. The one-time installation is typically completed by SITECH Deutschland, Trimble's distributor in Germany, over the course of two or three days.

Flexible cab kit
The Trimble Earthworks cab kit adds automatics to the system and consists of one or two GNSS receivers, a radio modem and a touchscreen display to show the bucket position. The components of the kit are safely stored in a small rugged transport case and can be installed in just a few minutes while the excavator is on the construction site. 

"We have currently equipped well over 20 excavators with the machine kit. We also have 14 base kits that give us flexibility with our excavators," says Hans-Joachim.

Automatics increase the area performance and saves costs
The added value of the 3D automatics functionality for civil engineering contractors is substantial: It simplifies and accelerates the digging of simple or complex 3D designs, as well as the creation of smooth, level or inclined surfaces. Operators only have to control the excavator stick, while the excavator's boom and bucket are guided automatically. 

"Because the automatic system works so precisely, the excavator operators can, for example, work their way up to utility lines that have already been measured during excavation without risking damage. This eliminates the need for rework and the associated costs, all of which saves time while increasing the amount of area worked," explains Juniorchef Marius Reuscher. Increases in productivity of up to 40% are possible with the automatics functionality.

There are two further advantages for the civil engineering contractor during the excavation: "Due to the very precise removal of dirt, we save material because there is practically no over- excavation, resulting in the minimum amount of backfill material needed. In addition, the quality increases because the precisely worked out pipe beds also have a positive effect on material settlement," adds Marius.

More cubic meters per liter of diesel
Sebastian Schoch, who is responsible for processing the data at Reuscher Tiefbau, cites another advantage: "Thanks to the optimized work, we transport less material. [We are] efficient and conserve resources." 

This fits in with the company philosophy that Marius describes: "We work in a resource-oriented manner for all orders. Among other things, the automatics functionality has significantly reduced our fuel consumption." Hans-Joachim finds a clear formula for this: "Thanks to Trimble Earthworks with automatics, we move more cubic meters per liter of diesel."

For Marius, looking at the resources does not end with the direct costs: "In addition to the price of the hardware, the investment also has an impact on the environment, the need for personnel and the maintenance intervals. We see benefits in all of these areas, so Trimble Earthworks pays for itself within a year."

Automatics functionality relieves personnel
In addition, Trimble Earthworks also increases the comfort for the excavator operators: they can fully concentrate on the finer work while the boom and excavator bucket are controlled by Trimble Earthworks. "This system relieves the excavator operators' stress enormously. They are simply more relaxed after work than they used to be," says Hans-Joachim. 

Excavator operator Hartmut Gerhard uses the automatics functionality in a Hitachi ZX350 LCN. "Everything is flawless,” he said after a few days of operation. “I particularly like the display. It's always easy to read, regardless of the sunlight."

At the same time, the need for personnel around the excavators is reduced. Trimble Earthworks is so precise that, in most cases, there is no need for survey stakes. In this way, Reuscher Tiefbau saves on additional personnel for elevation correction on many construction sites.

The automatics also pay off when it comes to recruiting employees, because young employees, and prospective trainees in particular, value modern equipment with intuitive operation. 

Measuring behind milling machine
The driver can configure the arrangement of the colored 3D graphics on the 10” large touchscreen Trimble TD520 display to personal needs. Excavator operator Hartmut Gerhard is very satisfied with the Trimble Earthworks automatic excavator in his Hitachi ZX350 LCN.
Measuring behind milling machine
The GNSS receivers and the radio module are fixed to the machine in no time at all. They can be used flexibly on all pre-equipped machines. To protect against theft and damage, they can be removed just as quickly at the end of the day and stored safely.

Intuitive software, robust hardware
Operation via the Trimble Earthworks software is extremely simple and can be easily learned during operation. Data is displayed on the 10-inch (25.7 cm) Trimble TD520 Display. The colored 3D graphics can be customized on the display and adapted to the needs of the operators, and operators can choose between different perspectives, 3D, plan, cross section and profile views, or different combinations of these views.

Simple data processing and transmission
Another important aspect of using Trimble Earthworks is the processing of the data. "It's much easier with the Trimble system than with competitor solutions," says Sebastian. He manages the data and deals with the system on a daily basis. After preparing the site data, he transfers it to Trimble WorksManager software. From there, the machine operators download the designs into the Trimble Earthworks software, minimizing the number of trips to bring data to machines with flash drives. For locations without Internet access, the data is sent once the system has regained Internet access via the SIM card in the modem or Wi-Fi.

Billing and geofence included
With the system, Reuscher Tiefbau constructs accurate “as built” digital terrain models from the machine data sent back to the office. After the work is complete, this data supports the billing of the construction work to the customer. 

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