Topcon Millimeter GPS Paving Solution Drives Operational Efficiencies for Maryland Contractor

June 13, 2022

Gerald D. Bowman Contractors, Inc.’s entry into paving was a measured one. Armed with a single Power Curber machine, Jerry Bowman set out to make his mark on the Maryland paving scene.

“We started out small and continued that way for a number of years,” he said. “Then, when growth in the area took off, so too did the business. To meet the demand, we had to staff up and make additional equipment purchases. I never envisioned being a larger company — truth is, we grew without even trying.”

Today, Bowman runs three Power Curber paving machines and maintains a staff of about 50 people.

Technology Calls

“We’ve been a Power Curber customer from day one and a couple years ago they made us aware that they offered a stringless machine that ran the Topcon Millimeter GPS system,” he said. “We’d been watching developments in that area for years, but this really solidified things for us.” 

“So, in 2019, working with Mike Ayres at the Topcon Solutions Store’s Maryland branch, we purchased a system that allows both stringline and stringless paving. It was a huge step for us to take but we felt we were ready.”

Topcon’s Millimeter GPS paving solution provides Bowman’s crew with all the benefits of GPS positioning technology, enhanced by a zone laser reference to improve the overall vertical accuracy of the curb machine.

Bowman’s first job with the new system was an Amazon distribution center in Newport, Delaware. It called for the pouring of thousands of feet of curb. The real showcase for the Millimeter solution, however, was a series of islands in the facility’s parking lot, according to project superintendent Sean McCane.

“We had a total of 76 islands, all generally in the 5’ X 30’ range, many with some challenging radius pours,” he said. “It was all done using the Millimeter system and the results were incredible. There were rows of 12 and 13 islands and seeing how perfectly they lined up confirmed the accuracy of the solution. It was a sight to see, for sure.”

Choice Cuts

On a recent residential development called Chase Oaks, the efficiency of his paving operation was clearly on display. According to McCane, it all starts with man-hours.

“We poured nearly a mile of curb and gutter, 169 feet additional of DELDOT-spec curb and 22 inlets,” he said. “In addition to the costly advance survey staking time and costs, it would have taken three guys four eight-hour days of setting and removing stringline. That’s 96 hours saved right there.”

Bowman’s production rates at the Chase Oaks job were regularly in the 100-150 yards/day range. 

“If we are pouring slowly or encountering issues with stringline, the daily volumes go down and we’re no longer a priority for the supplier,” he said. “On the other hand, if I can ensure that we will consistently put down the volumes we are with the Millimeter GPS solution, we can stay at the top of their schedule. It can make a huge difference.”