"Justifying the investment in any type of GPS machine control is dependent on the nature of the contractor's work and not the size of the company," says Tony Vanneman, Topcon Positioning Systems. "Whether the company has one field crew or 50, the key is to know how to set up and use the equipment."
Project size is a determining factor. "The investment required depends on the scale of the solution, which is dictated by the size of the job a contractor in intending to use the technology on," says Scott Schmidtgall, marketing consultant, Caterpillar Connected Worksite Products and Services. "Commercial jobs may require a smaller investment, while a highway project may require more, depending on productivity goals. Ensuring a high quality of design may require investments, as would any initial training."
Typically, contractors can quickly justify the cost. "ROI comes from efficiencies gained through time reduction, elimination of guesswork and accurate material estimation," says Schmidtgall. Work quality may factor in, as well (achieving bonus/elimination reductions).
"The combination of the labor savings, production increases and improved ability to control the material costs enables a contractor to pay for his initial investment very quickly," says Vanneman. "Some contractors have been able to pay for their entire system on a single job."
It's also possible to leverage the investment in previous 3D grade control technology. "In many cases, contractors are using 3D in their earthmoving and other jobsite applications, so they have pieces of the system already in place that can be integrated into the paving process," notes Kevin Klein, GOMACO. "And of course, you have the cost savings from not handling stringline and its hardware."
"The interoperability of the components enables the contractor to take his earthmoving equipment system (motor grader, dozer or excavator) and quickly put it on his milling machine or asphalt or concrete pavers," adds Vanneman.