Guidance System Speeds Channel Repair Project by 15%

Leica Geosystems machine control systems are helping to reshape 2.5 miles of the channel at Soldier Creek in Topica, Kansas.

A 3D excavator guidance system is helping Ebert Construction Co., Wamego, Kansas, beat the schedule by 15% on a $9 million channel repair project for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Topeka.

The earthmoving subcontractor is using Leica Geosystems machine control systems on its excavators to help reshape 2.5 miles of the channel at Soldier Creek, which is contained by two parallel levees spaced 300 feet apart. A major flood in 2005 eroded the creek banks and this project will repair the damage, helping to prevent further flooding upstream of the repaired area.

Ebert has engaged a fleet of earthmoving equipment to remove 350,000 cubic yards of earth from the side slopes and take them to waste areas behind the levee. Some 170,000 cubic yards are being moved from cuts to fills on the slopes.

Two Komatsu hydraulic excavators, each fitted with a Power Digger 3D machine control system, are being used to shape the side slopes. Each slope is designed with an upper and a lower bank, both on a 3:1 slope and separated by a gentler 10:1 slope.

Jim Ebert, project manager for the contractor, says the Leica Power Digger 3D systems improve the excavators' efficiency because no grade checking is needed. He further states that the systems save Ebert $40,000 a year by eliminating the grade checker. The Power Diggers' screens show the operators the cuts and fills on a continuous basis. "Plus, we can work underwater without having a grade checker climb into the water," Ebert says. 

"The Leica Geosystems GPS system takes the guesswork out of grading for the operators," says Trent Ebert, project superintendent. "And there's no more calling us to say the stakes got run over by a dozer. There's no downtime. Nobody has to watch the operators; they can dig, back up, find the next place to cut and keep on going."

Completion is scheduled for February 2011, but the contractors hope to achieve substantial completion before winter.