The construction industry is amidst a period of major disruptive changes, and digital technologies will be one of the driving forces of its transformation in the years ahead. Whether it’s in the realms of productivity, safety, labour shortages, or collaboration between the office and field, machine control can help contractors make significant gains, and a UK company is amongst the first to benefit from an easy to use and integrated solution from Liebherr and Leica Geosystems.
An R 934 G8 crawler, the first to leave the factory in France since the two industry leaders joined forces last year, has been added to the fleet at Derbyshire business Brad-Pave. It is equipped with the Leica 3D passive system soon to be updated to include automatic inclination/rotation function.
The company, which employs just four people and specialises in road construction, deep drainage and earthmoving, was in the market to replace another manufacturer’s 30-tonne excavator and a visit to the Liebherr stand at the Bauma show in Munich in 2019 was enough to convince director Paul Bradshaw that he’d found the ideal machine. “When I saw the new Generation 8 excavators, they just looked the part. It was immediately apparent that an already quality product had been massively improved. My mind was made up straight away.”
While awaiting delivery, Mr Bradshaw began fine-tuning additional specification with GPS and Steelwrist to match the outgoing machine. However, he quickly modified his plans when the partnership with Leica was announced and negotiations with Liebherr Great-Britain ensured the order could be amended to include the Leica option.
With an operating weight of almost 38.5 tonnes, the machine arrived in the UK towards the end of 2020 when Steelwrist fitted what would be another world ‘first’, an X32 tiltrotator on 80mm pins, to take the total package to just over 40 tonnes.
“We’ve used GPS guidance for a number of years and having the opportunity to have an integrated system on a Liebherr excavator was an ideal scenario for us,” continued Mr Bradshaw. “We are hoping that one of the benefits of taking this option will be the increased reliability of a built-in system. We realised the benefits of using GPS many years ago. Not only does it do away with the requirement for traditional setting-out but it is almost 100 per cent fool-proof. The addition of the Leica Co-Pilot system controlling the Steelwrist will just make any project that little bit quicker and more accurate.”
“In the digital age, construction autonomy such as machine control systems for earthmoving machines are becoming increasingly important,” says Thomas Haas, Head of Product Management and in charge of the cooperation project between Liebherr and Leica Geosystems. “Through the strategic partnership with Leica Geosystems, we can now offer our customers state-of-the-art integrated solutions for machine control systems directly from our factory.”
The collaboration will enable customers to receive Liebherr wheeled and crawler excavators (generations 6 and 8) with factory installed Leica iXE2 2D and iXE3 3D machine control solutions as an option. The Liebherr excavator factory teams have been trained by Leica Geosystems and assemble the systems directly on the assembly lines.