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The industry's first mastless motor grader

The Next Big Thing in Grade Control Technology

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Grade control technology is nothing new. The first motor grader equipped with guidance technology was introduced more than 20 years ago and, since then, additional machines like dozers and excavators followed suit, enhancing accuracy, efficiency, and awareness in earth moving projects.

John Deere has been and remains at the forefront of this technology. In the last five years, Deere led the industry with the shift to manufacturers integrating machine control technology directly into production equipment. Deere’s new SmartGrade Motor Graders are the textbook example of what is possible when machine control technology and machines are developed together.

Learn more: John Deere SmartGrade Motor Graders and Dozers

Move More Material, More Efficiently
Original grade technology made it possible for operators of various skill and experience levels to operate faster and with better accuracy. SmartGrade furthers these advantages by expanding flexibility of blade placement and being able to utilize the machine capabilities as they were designed. For the motor grader, this means operators can now control grade fully-articulated and also, use all the setting of saddle placement and side shifting.

Deere's SmartGrade Motor Grader


Never possible with an aftermarket system, now the machine can tell the system exactly where the cutting edge is in space. This is a game changer for motor grader operation. It allows operators to take accuracy and efficiency to the next level with the machine’s awareness of speed, slip, and grade all working together.

Additionally, Deere’s SmartGrade is the industry’s first and only mastless motor grader. It addresses one of the biggest drawbacks of using traditional, aftermarket guidance technology – potential damage to external masts and cables. The days of bending a GPS pole or slicing a tire with the blade are over.

Straight to the Bottom Line
The benefits of SmartGrade go beyond the obvious advantages of the mastless design like eliminating both downtime from damaging masts and cables and daily set-up time of the masts and cables. The integrated design offers more.

1. Any Skill Level
Motor graders are known as a machine that’s not run by just any equipment operator. Precise operation is crucial to maximize productivity and eliminate rework, which is why a motor grader typically is only run by the most seasoned, skilled operator on the jobsite.

SmartGrade offers a more inexperienced operator the opportunity to do the job like a more seasoned operator. There are no limitations to blade angle, blade pitch, or articulation. Furthermore, the system offers blade flip so the operator can focus on steering and material management to balance the job more efficiently, with less passes.

2. Efficient Use of Resources
The more efficient a company can be with its resources, the better – and two of the most valuable resources are people and time.

SmartGrade means only two things are needed to get the job done – one man and one machine. Crews no longer need grade checkers or additional equipment to do the job.

3. Accuracy Matters
When it comes to moving dirt, only touching the dirt once is what makes money. Rework costs companies time, resources, and money.

While grade guidance technology in general allows operators to be more precise, the SmartGrade’s integrated design takes that a step further. The machine includes several sensors and is always correcting itself. The integrated design delivers that information so quickly that the machine can keep up with adjustments as they’re happening. Furthermore, SmartGrade Motor Graders perform well and stay on-grade, even in tough conditions, such as operating on slopes.

RDO customers are already adopting the new technology.


Support is Key
Like Deere, RDO is committed to being an industry leader in technology and machine innovation. As the machine capabilities increase, so does the complexity of operation. This is where RDO is investing in customers’ future.

RDO is committed to hiring, training, and equipping its team, locally, to ensure customers have the support needed in the field to keep equipment working and maximizing the use of these new technological innovations.

In addition, RDO offers a Solutions Center. This team, based in Billings, MT, was created to enhance the support we offer locally with expertise in modeling, machine control, survey equipment, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Bottom line, RDO is focused on making sure technology works for customers – SmartGrade included.  

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About the Author
Adam Gilbertson has 16 years of experience with RDO Equipment Co. and today leads technology efforts with RDO Integrated Controls as a Vice President. He is focused on Topcon technology and integration with heavy construction equipment to create better opportunities for customers. Connect with him on Twitter @RDOICAdam

Find out more about John Deere SmartGrade Motor Graders now or contact your local RDO Equipment Co. store.