I N D U S T R Y I N N O VAT I O N
Machine-control systems, autonomous vehicles, robots,
augmented and virtual reality and drones will be the new
norm down the road, according to representatives of firms
that provide construction technology solutions and machine
control systems to roadbuilding and other industries.
“Technology is growing by leaps and bounds,” said
Jamal Mohammed, director of sales and professional services
at SITECH Mid-Canada, which offers a variety of
specialized technology, software and machine-control
systems to the construction sector. “It’s taken some time,
but machine-control and guidance technology are now
becoming the new norm along with GPS positioning.”
Machine-control systems use GPS and sensors to determine
geographic co-ordinates. Functions of the equipment
can also be automated and link to online networks to
share information with engineers.
The systems were initially installed on graders, but it’s
now becoming more common to see them used on other
construction equipment like bulldozers, excavators and
rollers. It’s estimated that 10 per cent of earthmoving
equipment in use in Canada has machine control and it’s
expected to go up.
“The GPS tells you where you are, no different than
the GPS in your car, and we put computers in the heavy
equipment and it tells the machine or the blade, the cutting
edge of the machine that touches the ground, where
to go,” said Mohammed.
The technology has been adapted over the years and
can now be hooked up to the hydraulics on a piece of
heavy equipment. A computer then controls such things
as the elevation and tilt of a blade.
Kyle Birch, machine control sales manager for Canada
at Leica Geosystems, which provides guiding, control
and positioning solutions for road construction and other
projects, says 3D technology is also now used in machinecontrol
systems to give operators a more accurate view
Designs can also be loaded directly onto the cloud by an
engineer and sent directly to the heavy equipment.
“With having everything connected, it allows companies
to be more efficient because they don’t have to
have somebody running around on a site with a USB
stick to load the designs onto different machines,” said
Birch. “You create a design and it’s sent out to all the
If an operator encounters a problem, a technician can
also log into the machine remotely and trouble-shoot
“We can take over the controls on the machine or system
with the exception of putting it into or out of automatics.
That’s something that belongs to the guy in the
machine. But we can trouble-shoot everything.
“It’s made us more efficient because it’s cut down on
the number of site visits. So instead of us trying to work