Increased quality, labor savings and tighter material yields are just a few of the benefits concrete contractors will see with laser-guided grading systems. Below are four success stories from contractors who run a variety of these systems.
Stepping into commercial
Chad Springborg, president of Chad Springborg Construction, Omaha, Neb., began his concrete business in 1994 specializing in residential concrete. About 10 years ago he started branching into commercial work. He knew in order to compete in the commercial market he would need to stay competitive with other commercial contractors and increase his jobsite production. In 1999, he purchased a Bobcat laser-guided grading attachment for his skid-steer loaders, enabling him to do fine grading on commercial building projects.
The system uses a Trimble total station mounted on a tripod and two transmitters mounted on the skid steer's grader attachment. Springborg's crews adjust the height of the transmitter to the desired grade and the laser system automatically moves the blade, fine grading the base to within ¼ inch plus or minus the designed grade as the operator moves across the jobsite.
Springborg says the laser grading system gives him better yields on his pours, decreasing his concrete overage from around 8 percent before he had the system to currently about 2 percent. Laser grading has also increased his productivity and decreased his labor. Paired with his Somero Laser Screed, Springborg says he can complete jobs three times faster than he could with his previous system.
Today Springborg's business is performing about 70 percent of its sales in the commercial sector. His typical jobsite is under 50,000 square feet, but Springborg says his laser-guided grading attachment is just as effective on larger jobs.
A few years ago, Springborg took his grading capabilities a step further when he purchased a Somero SiteShape System for a Caterpillar D4 dozer, a 3D grading system that allows him to fine grade multiple grade and elevation changes automatically. This, paired with his Somero 3D Profiler System for his Laser Screed, allows him to work effectively on concrete parking lots and sloped floors.
A versatile attachment
Shortly after purchasing a Somero Laser Screed in the late 1990s, Dean Madagan, president of Diamond Concrete Construction, Inc., in Spirit Lake, Iowa, realized his crews were having a difficult time getting the ground prepped by hand fast enough to keep up with the increased productivity they were seeing with the Laser Screed. "When you start pouring 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of concrete a day, grading the gravel by hand isn't feasible anymore - it takes too long and the accuracy isn't good enough," Madagan says.
So about 10 years ago Diamond Concrete Construction added a Dual Dozer laser grading attachment to its equipment arsenal. Not only did the laser grading equipment allow grading crews to stay ahead of the Laser Screed, it helped the company save a lot in labor costs. "We used to figure nine or 10 guys for a couple of days grading out a 30,000-square-foot slab," Madagan says. "The Dual Dozer knocked that down to two or three guys who can grade it out in a day."
The precision and speed Diamond Concrete Construction saw with its laser grading and concrete leveling systems came with another level of monetary benefits. "We went from running 3 to 5 percent overage on our concrete to being within 1 percent or less on our accuracy," Madagan explains. He adds that the Dual Dozer leaves a smooth-looking surface compared to the rough look you get with hand grading, cutting down on the number of GCs and owners second-guessing the grade.
The Dual Dozer by HitchDoc is a laser grading attachment that can be mounted to the front of a skid-steer loader or trailed behind a tractor with a three-point hitch. Diamond Concrete Construction has used it both ways, but has found it more effective following its New Holland TC45 SuperSteer tractor. "We use it behind the tractor because it's a little easier to see where pipes and other things are on the ground," Madagan explains. "We went with the tractor for visibility and because with the SuperSteer you can get tight to a corner and the wheels almost turn on a dime."