Opposites attract to provide foundation

Part two of Roads & Bridges’ 1999 Equipment Compendium reviews the roles lasers and graders play, separately and together, in the roadbuilding industry

Article December 28, 2000
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Lasers and graders are two pieces of equipment at polar opposites of the construction equipment line. Lasers can be associated with a group of equipment which represents the future of the industry because of their increasing popularity with the technologically evolving and advanced roadbuilder. Smaller and more accurate lasers are now becoming common at construction sites. The lasers allow users to control equipment operations as well as measure slope control, distance and grade complex among other road design applications.

As for the lasers’ counterpart, motor graders are linked with an Industrial Revolution-type machinery. At the heart of the metal, mass and pure power of a grader is a quality machine that requires the operator to possess the finesse of a pianist to provide a proper base for a road.

Forever linked with the roadbuilder, motor graders have evolved dramatically since their inception. Bigger machines with larger blades, churning out more horsepower for even longer hours have emerged from the design recommendations of the operators themselves.

When used together, these two pieces of equipment often work in concert to provide a roadbuilder a road base that is linked, electronically and mechanically, with the past and the future.

Lasers

AGL Corp.

From steep slopes to long-range level-only, the EAGL 3 series slope laser transmitters, manufactured by AGL Corp., Jacksonville, Ark., provide accurate slope control either in dual or single modes. Depending on the model, the unit provides slope control from 50% to -5% in both or either axis by simply entering the slope on separate X and Y axis grade control pads.

Additionally, it allows the operator to enter negative grade directly into the laser. For crown work, this means that the laser no longer has to be rotated and realigned.

The self-leveling range for all transmitters is +/- 5.75 degrees while the operating range varies from 3,000 ft to 4,000 ft, according to the manufacturer.

Spectra Precision Inc.

The BladePro 3D grader control system from Spectra Precision Inc., Dayton, Ohio, offers three-dimensional capability allowing motor grader operators to grade complex designs such as vertical curves, transitions, super-elevated curves and complex site designs without stake, stringlines or layout.

Used in concert with the system’s TerraModel software, information moves from site plans via a data card that is simply inserted into the unit’s control box, eliminating the need for a computer set-up on the job site.

The system then uses its robotic total station to track and communicate the grader’s position at the job site by using a graphical operator interface that accepts a digital design of the project from the stored data card.

“Three-dimensional technology is quickly emerging in the marketplace and offers numerous benefits,” said Mark Forrest, product manager. “Our system builds on the three-dimensional research we began years ago and offers the newest solution available.”

Topcon America Corp.

The GPT-1000 series utilizes pulse laser EDM technology that allows measurement to virtually any target. Manufactured by Topcon America Corp., Paramus, N.J., it is suited for any application in which distance measurements are needed, but placement of a prism is either dangerous or impossible, according to the manufacturer.

Available in two different models with 2-in. and 3-in. accuracies, both models offer the pulse of EDM and are capable of measuring 100 meters to a white board. This same pulse technology also will measure 4000 meters to a single prism.

Motor graders

Caterpillar Inc.

Following in the footsteps of the G-Series motor grader, Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc.’s new H-Series motor graders offer enhanced and more productive features, according to the manufacturer.

The design of the H-Series was based upon customer input with an emphasis on performance, reliability, operator preference and high resale. Additionally, emphasis was placed upon the grader providing more power to the ground, major visibility improvements, enhanced controllability and more comfort. According to the company, the cumulative effect of these improvements to the H-Series is a 15-25% productivity increase over the G-Series.

Available in seven different models, the H-Series has an operating weight that ranges from 27,600 lb to 36,460 lb and standard horsepower between 125 and 180.

All models are equipped with a Cat-built transmission designed exclusively for the motor graders and it is electronically controlled for easy, smooth shifting. Close spread gears in the working range increase grading speed in most applications, adding variable horsepower that increases the rimpull above third gear, further improving grading speed potential.

Additionally, a 6-in.-longer wheel base gives a steeper blading angle for more efficient material rolling.

Champion Road Machinery

The Series V motor graders manufactured by Champion Road Machinery, Goderich, Ontario, consists of 11 models for use in light grading, ditching, bulldozing or snow plowing.

According to the company, the graders provide power, blade control and faster working cycles for maximum productivity under demanding conditions. They offer smoother and more responsive load sensing hydraulics for a 30% improvement in implement control while steering also is smoother and more uniform, requiring 18% less effort even under a heavy load.

The sloped front frame and rear engine cowling provide 360 degrees visibility in the cab. Convenient, easy-to-read control pedestal layout includes a digital gear selection indicator and the “Smart Shifter” single-lever transmission controller that improves work cycle times and reduces operator fatigue.

A moveable blade control system offers blade mobility and reach. It can accurately place the moldboard in any position up to 90 degrees on either side of the machine.

The Series V graders range in operating weight from 31,510 lb to 47,355 lb and horsepower between 140 and 235.

Fiatallis North America Inc.

The FG65C Turbo motor grader from Fiatallis North America Inc., Carol Stream, Ill., provides accurate blade performance in a grader that requires a balance in weight and power distribution. The machine offers an operating weight of 16,786 lb, while producing 100 hp, according to the manufacturer.

Additionally, the machine provides great blade visibility from the operating platform, precise speed and blade control for consistent productivity, rugged drawbars and roll-away moldboards.

The grader features an articulated frame for maneuverability, super max-trac and no-spin differentials for better traction when working in tough soil conditions.

Komatsu America International Co.

The 42,000-lb GD750A-1 motor grader from Komatsu America International Co., Vernon Hills, Ill., has just been recently introduced to North America.

According to the company, the four-wheel-drive grader features an articulated frame and a moldboard geometry that enables the operator to position the blade 90 degrees to the left or right. It has a maximum cutting depth of 27 in., a maximum lift above ground of 16.5 in. and a blade tip range of 46 degrees forward a 7.5 degrees backward. The grader is powered by a 225-hp diesel, turbocharged Cummins M11-C engine.

Design benefits of the machine include torque converter with lock-up direct drive technology, ergonomically designed cab, load-sensing hydraulics, electronic monitoring system, human-first engineered design and several safety features.

Jimmy Slavens, vice president of product marketing, explained the torque converter with lock-up direct drive. “By multiplying engine torque and delivering it to the power train when needed, torque converters can decrease the need for shifting and increase tractive effort. An operator can select a gear range and work right down to zero miles per hour with full hydraulic response. Also, it allows the operator to run the machine smoothly by using only the brake pedal.”

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