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Contractor Cuts Excavation Time by 25% with Trimble® GCS900 Grade Control System with GradeMax™ Technology

Contractor Cuts Excavation Time by 25% with Trimble® GCS900 Grade Control System with GradeMax™ Technology

Family-owned excavation company saves time, fuel and labor costs with greater grading and excavation accuracy from Trimble.


Customer Profile 

Taylor Excavating and Wrecking, Inc. is a family run business serving the city of Chicago and its suburbs. In business since 2002, the company has delivered cost effective demolition and wrecking services as well as site prep work for both commercial and residential client projects.

Business Situation

In 2013, Taylor was selected for the Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) North Chicago campus project.  The mass excavation and site prep work were challenging because of the unique site features; these included a 4-story building foundation with an unusual angle, a permeable paver storm-water detention system, numerous parking islands and curbs with varying sizes and several different pavement types. Looking to tackle these projects and move into more profitable site prep work, the company turned to Trimble for help.  


Trimble® GCS900 Grade Control System with Trimble GradeMax™ technology


  • Can now grade large building pads as well as retention ponds and complex pavement designs
  • The Trimble Grade Control System has paid for itself in well under one year, with time, labor and fuel savings
  • Using Trimble GradeMax technology, excavation time was cut by 25%
  • Captured cost savings that in turn made the project 10% more profitable.
  • Realized fuel savings of 25%
  • $10,000 saved in survey and re-staking costs

Why Trimble?

The Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) excavation effort included hauling 45,900 cubic feet (1,700 cubic yards) of dirt for building foundations. In addition, Taylor had to move another 291, 600 cubic feet (10,800 cubic yards) for parking lot detention and other site pavements. Terry Hamilton, project manager for Taylor, estimated 1,200 tons of backfill would be needed for the building foundations as well as 11,000 tons of stone for the parking detention area. Looking to tackle these challenges with greater precision and efficiency, the company turned to Trimble.

The GCS900 Grade Control System is a machine control system that optimizes the grading performance of dozers. Taylor chose the Trimble system with GradeMax technology because the company was looking to reduce the high cost, labor and time associated with traditional staking. Hamilton explains that traditional staking methods require a surveyor and a grade checker onsite throughout the project. Not only does staking add considerable personnel costs, it’s time consuming because operators must wait for the stakes to be moved and re-set. Operators also have to constantly navigate around these obstacles across the project site.

Hamilton explains GCS900 with GradeMax significantly increases the overall grading performance of dozers and allows the operator to grade a faster with better accuracy. In addition, the Trimble Connected Machine wirelessly synchronizing data between the office and the machine to reduce machine down time and drive greater productivity. Hamilton points out that greater data transfer speeds also mean smoother, more consistent blade control.

“Using GradeMax, our operators can now grade higher quality surfaces at faster speeds,” said Hamilton. “And even following complex designs and varying material types like on the NEIU project, the Trimble system controlled our dozer excavation and also allowed us to check our work and confirm the accuracy of our cuts and fills.”

Hamilton believes that 3D machine control from Trimble is critical for their organization because it allows his operators to make necessary, real-time adjustments with tighter accuracy and greater confidence. For example, depending on the ground conditions, the team can make changes on the fly. In the case of changing the cut and fill line, machine drivers can use the vertical offset feature within the grade control system to change the design and the blade and cut precisely to the line. Not only that, Hamilton asserts that the Trimble GCS900 system helped cut down significantly on labor costs, as the team would have to hire at least two surveyors to run lines and check grade.

“This project would have been extremely difficult to lay out using conventional tape and levels,” said Hamilton. “The Trimble system saved us over $10,000 in surveying and re-staking costs; and helped make this a successful project for Taylor.” By laying material correctly the first time, the Taylor crew met their estimated quantity targets of 1,200 tons of backfill for the building foundations and 11,000 tons of stone. By minimizing rework and wasted material on the NIEU project, Taylor captured cost savings that in turn made the project 10% more profitable. In fact, one year after making the investment in the Trimble GCS900 system, the system has paid for itself in terms of time, labor and fuel savings. “With machine control and the GradeMax capability from Trimble we can confidently bid larger, more complex projects and we know we will use less labor and equipment and complete work faster than otherwise would be required,” said Hamilton. “We have used the Trimble GPS system for projects ranging from grading large building pads to retention ponds and complex pavement designs. It has reduced our time for excavation time across a range of projects by 25%, which means a lot to our bottom line.”