Technology Partnership Puts Earthmoving Company on Operational Solid Ground
Customer Profile: Alvanos Earthmoving was established in North Renmark in 1996. The family owned and operated earthmoving company works extensively for local government (Renmark Paringa Council) and other Southern Australian Government agencies such as SA Water and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
Business Challenge: Invest in technology with confidence and reliable customer support
- Trimble SPS855 Modular GNSS Receiver
- Trimble SPS785 GNSS Smart Antenna
- Trimble T7 Tablet
- Trimble Siteworks Software
- Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform
- Trimble SPS930 Universal Total Stations
- Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System
- Accurate site pickups and benchmarks
- Increased productivity
- Ability to take on larger, more complex projects
Family-owned and operated Alvanos Earthmoving is well known in the Riverland Area of Southern Australia for its versatility, working on projects that range from curbs to car parks, subdivisions to stormwater systems. The company, founded by Jim Alvanos, is one of the largest earthmoving companies in the region and works extensively for local government (Renmark Paringa Council) and other regional agencies such as SA Water and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
While the firm’s skills are proven, its ability to take on larger, more complex projects has been limited in part because of the lack of technology to drive greater productivity. Emmanuel Alvanos, second generation owner in the company, noted, “Theoretically, we recognized the value of technology such as GNSS for positioning and machine control, but have struggled to find the right solutions with good customer service to help guide our decisions.”
For instance, the firm’s first foray into GNSS was challenging, largely because of the age of the used equipment and the lack of support from the manufacturer. Therefore, Alvanos continued to use rotating lasers, or occasionally, more conventional stringlines to help guide machines.
“We learned quickly that effective technology deployment is heavily dependent on a dealer partner who understands our work and our investment challenges,” continued Emmanuel.
With help from SITECH Construction Systems Pty Ltd, the firm is now on technologically enabled solid ground with capabilities that range from GNSS-enabled grade control to 3D model surface creation, a technique that even a year ago might have seemed well out of reach.
Insight and Investment
The shift to GNSS-enabled grade control at Alvanos Earthwork began in earnest in 2020 when Jim placed a call to James Scudds, Account Manager at SITECH Construction Systems Pty Ltd to learn about the benefits of a GNSS enabled machine. When Jim found a used Cat 140M motor grader that had Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System, he contacted James again for training support.
Within a couple of days, the Alvanos crew, with Emmanuel taking the lead, was up and running. “It was awesome, and I loved it,” recalled Emmanuel. “James helped me create my own inhouse designs of, for instance, road grades. I exported the files to the GCS900 system, and we were off. The precision of our work was immediately noticeable, and we especially like having the designs visible in the cab. In essence, we are faster and more efficient, mostly because we no longer have to set up the laser or string lines. The accuracy of the system also minimizes our reliance on surveyors.”
With growing confidence, the grade control system was just the beginning of the firm’s technology investment and the move to 3D construction.
Happy with SITECH service and support, Alvanos began to look to SITECH for other technology investment ideas. Not long after putting the grade control-enabled motor grader to work, the firm purchased Trimble construction surveying solutions including an SPS855 Modular GNSS Receiver to use as a base station, and an SPS785 GNSS Smart Antenna with a T7 Tablet controller along with Trimble Siteworks Software.
With a little more training, the Alvanos crew was able to do their own site pick-ups and set outs. For instance, the company performs a lot of regional dirt road re-sheeting. From within the Siteworks software, Emmanuel is able to create a 3D model with ease by using the surface as a design feature to create the model, manually editing points, and then exporting the surface to the grader and visualizing the finished product—all from a single solution.
On bigger jobs, such as schools and housing subdivisions, the Alvanos crew is able to perform site pick up and send it through to the SITECH data prep team for a design file.
For instance, the firm completed the earthwork for a large private school construction project in Renmark last year. The grader with grade control came in particularly handy for this project. Emmanuel explained, “We were able to locate everything we needed on site, such as stormwater pits, all from the machine, rather than measuring off bits and pieces. That was a big timesaver.”
The most recent investment has been a Trimble SPS930 Robotic Universal Total Station (UTS) and Trimble MT900 UTS Machine Target system for increased accuracy and speed when using the grader—an investment that came in particularly handy on a recent subdivision earthworks project.
For this effort, the customer stipulated very tight tolerances for the bench marks. “Without this technology, we would have to manually check spots, which would have increased time and cost, and potentially required rework. With the UTS solution, we were spot on every time,” he added.
Emmanuel noted that while he hasn’t measured the ROI, the benefits are clearly evident in the ease of use of the software and the crew’s ability to complete projects more efficiently—as well as the ability to take on more work.
Building on the successful deployment of technology, and especially customer support, Alvanos Earthmoving continues to expand its technology portfolio. For instance, the firm just placed an order for a Trimble Earthworks Grade Control Platform for a Cat track loader equipped with a Cat GB120 smart grader blade solution, which will greatly improve the ability.
Emmanuel concluded, “We’re scaling up. The Trimble equipment enables us to push the jobs on a lot quicker and more precisely—and the customer service provided by James is fantastic.”