4 Tips for Making the Transition to Grade Technology

Grade control is no longer a luxury — it’s a requirement on many projects today. Here’s some advice to help ease the switch from traditional to technology-driven construction.

Make the switch to grade control easy with these quick tips.
Make the switch to grade control easy with these quick tips.

If you haven’t already made the shift to grade control, it’s time: Many construction projects today require it. Without the technology on your equipment, you can’t even bid on certain jobs, let alone win the work. How can you ease the transition if you’re still relying on traditional methods — grade stakes, strings, tape measures and human grade checkers? Here are four suggestions:

1. Get a demo.

You can read all about the advantages of grade control — better accuracy, faster completion times, safer jobsites, lower costs — but nothing compares to witnessing it in action. Ask your equipment dealer to demo the technology for you. Go to a trade show to see it live. At the very least, watch some videos that give you a sense of how grade control works on an actual jobsite. Here’s a Cat® technology demo from CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023 to get you started.

2. Start small.

How many contractors do you know — maybe you’re even one of them — who started with a truck and a backhoe and now operate a 100-machine fleet? That didn’t happen overnight. It’s the same with technology. You don’t need to dive in head first by installing 3D grade control on every machine you own. Dip your toe in the water instead. Start with a 2D system that’s simpler and less expensive. (This article explains the differences between 2D and 3D.) You can always upgrade as your needs evolve.

3. Rent first.

Renting equipment with grade control already built in is a smart way to test the waters. That way, you can try out the technology before you make any major financial investments. See how it works on your projects. Figure out which types of systems your operators are most comfortable using and where they’ll need more training. Compare 2D, 3D and “assist” technologies. Renting first allows you to get comfortable with grade control, so you’ll have the confidence to use it to its fullest once you buy.

4. Ask for help.

The trial-and-error method might work. But if you want to get the most out of your grade control investment fast, it pays to get some training. Check to see if your equipment dealer has certified trainers on staff who can get your operators up to speed quickly or ask them about Caterpillar’s Road Builder Pro training event that compares traditional construction to technology construction side by side. It’s a great way to see the differences and the value firsthand.

Grade control is no longer a nice-to-have option on your equipment. It’s a necessity to stay in the game and remain competitive. Don’t wait any longer to make the switch. Tune in to podcasts for more advice on transitioning from traditional methods of construction to technology-driven ones.