Implementation of GPS controlled highway construction equipment.
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Implementation of GPS controlled highway construction equipment.

  • 2007-04-01

Filetype[PDF-3.16 MB]

  • English

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      Final report.
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    • Abstract:
      dozers, motor graders, and excavators is quickly becoming common place in private sector construction because it speeds project delivery and cuts costs. Use of this technology is expanding quickly into other construction equipment areas such as pavers, milling machines, and boring machines because of the advantages it offers both contractors and owners. Some State Highway Agencies (SHA’s) have started to implement this new technology, but not without concern and reservations. There are questions about accuracy (e.g., large error margins in vertical control, multiple sources of error, and signal variability), equipment compatibility (e.g., software for making geoid corrections, receiver equipment, and antenna types), and liability issues (e.g., digital design file accuracy and integrity, construction errors, and rework). Those states that have utilized GPS equipment guidance have been reluctant to develop special technical requirements to govern GPS use because of the developing nature of this technology. Thus, most have allowed its use at the contractor’s discretion. This has resulted in contractors investing in a variety of equipment types and proprietary systems, which now complicates development and implementation of controlling specifications. The technology is somewhere on the continuum between infancy and maturity and with the rapid increase in its use, SHA’s are forced to either a) develop specifications to ensure the completed work meets standards and that all contractors are competing on a level playing field, or b) state that compliance with standards is the contractor’s responsibility and thus they are free to choose methods and techniques to achieve the end product and must live with the consequences. Given the public’s expectation that quality work will be done as quickly as possible and that the SHA is in charge, the latter approach does not seem prudent since the technology is still developing. Controlling specifications need to be developed that establish accuracy limits, define quality control, quality assurance, and verification processes, allocate risk for errors, and establish payment mechanisms. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has been a leader in providing electronic plans and thus digital plan and file transfer protocols have already been established. However, issues remain in providing fully three-dimensional design files to contractors. Also, all file transfer requirements need to be coordinated with any GPS machine guidance and control specifications. Development of these specifications will need to be done in cooperation with the contracting industry, equipment suppliers, GPS equipment suppliers, survey and layout control personnel, project designers, construction managers, and field inspectors. WisDOT would like to implement GPS guidance and control technology for grading equipment on roadway projects. Implementation requires that the technology be thoroughly investigated, specification language developed, design implementation guidance written, field inspection and control systems developed and documented, and industry acceptance gained. WisDOT is seeking assistance in all phases of the implementation process.
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