Positioning and Machine Control Technology
30/11/2020 Leilani

Positioning and Machine Control Technology


GPS, or Global Positioning Systems is a technology that has been around for decades. But in more recent years this technology has been developed for use in the construction and earthmoving industries as a way to monitor and control machinery. GPS can even be used for machine control with an array of equipment and is a flexible and accurate solution for achieving grade, reducing waste material, and improving productivity.


Using GPS, UTS, and LPS technology, many positioning systems can offer exceptional accuracy for layout and grade checking. Topcon and Trimble systems can determine position within millimetres of accuracy, some eliminating the need for manual control from a surveyor which reduces staffing costs and safety risks with less personnel needed on-site.

Grade control

Grade control is another way GPS technology can greatly improve efficiency on site. Positioning and machine control systems such as Cat Grade, Trimble’s GCS900 and Topcon 3DMC offer automated machine movements and adjustments to achieve a finished surface level. These automated systems allow for increased accuracy, reduce operator mental and physical fatigue, and improve operating cycle times. For example, Cat Grade with Assist can be found in our 320 Next Gen Excavators which automatically controls boom and bucket movements based on settings from the operator. This prevents costly over-digging and ensures operators get to grade quickly and with greater accuracy.


Machine performance

GPS can tell a piece of machinery where it is located in relation to the site it is working on. Pair this with an asset management tool such as VisionLink and this provides real-time analytics to operators and Project Managers of a machine’s performance. Accurate machine data means that project managers can monitor productivity and machine availability, enhancing their planning processes.


The added safety positioning systems can offer is particularly important within the construction and mining industry. The technology reduces the amount of personnel needed on site at any one time, particularly near moving machinery. Additional features such as geofences also allow you to track and manage machinery movements on site which provides opportunity to identify and correct adverse behaviour.

Availability and brands

At present many brands like Caterpillar integrate GPS into almost all of their new models. However, there are also external systems that can be fitted to after-market such as Trimble’s GCS900, Earthworks (for excavating), GPS, and UTS, or Topcon’s LPS, GPS, or Millimeter. In fact, more often than not, machinery manufacturers are integrating Trimble and Topcon’s devices into their machines as their default systems.


Did you know that due to Australia’s geographic position we are able to access more satellites than any other country in the world? Making GPS an even better option for many industries in Australia.

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