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Contractors Optimize Consistency, Increase Productivity with RDO

Contractors Optimize Consistency, Increase Productivity with RDO

4 Mar 2024 Author: Stephen Roach Read time: 5 min

With more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, I understand the time it takes. I share a passion with construction business owners and operators and am motivated to improve their day-to-day operations. By sharing what I've learned and partnering with RDO Equipment Co.'s construction experts, I hope our customers won’t make the same mistakes I did.

Trust me, I would have saved so many hours if I had access to tools like the mobile mapping solutions offered by Topcon in the beginning. Two Montana contractors I recently worked alongside demonstrated how they optimized their efficiency by using a GNSS (global navigation satellite system) station receiver and imaging sensors to create geospatial maps.

Owner-Operator Fast Tracks Growth

When I started my business, I faced many challenges while learning on the job. In talking with Mack Lipka, owner of Black Diamond Landworks, we discovered we shared this experience. His entrepreneurial spirit reminded me of my own, and I realized Lipka was the perfect candidate to introduce to the technology that helped me.

Lipka has been operating equipment since he was a kid. As an adult, he invested in his business by purchasing a John Deere 85G Excavator paired with Engcon’s tilt rotator attachment. As a multifaceted owner-operator, Lipka now offers a variety of land management and excavation services.

Working with my fellow team members, James Roellich, a Utility Sales Professional, and Michael Gores, a Construction Technology Specialist, we introduced Lipka to Topcon's digital mapping solutions. We showed him how this product could improve grade accuracy. Lipka was already considering technology solutions with his friend and fellow contractor, Jason Gerbozy, President of J. Martin Builders.

"When I decided to go out on own my last fall, I stopped in to visit Gerbozy to catch up and discuss the possibility of working together," Lipka said.

During this reunion, Lipka met RDO team members.

"They highlighted Topcon's LN-150 solution and other innovative technologies that could significantly augment our capabilities on future projects," he continued.

Intrigued, Gerbozy and Lipka asked RDO to demonstrate the capabilities of the LN-150.

Custom Home Builder Designs Picture-Perfect Views

After the demonstration, Gerbozy — who has decades of design experience — quickly became an expert in Topcon’s LN-150. This 3D layout tool projects an obvious horizontal or vertical laser beam to measure accurate alignments so that the correct grade can be determined based on the homeowner's approved blueprints.

"Our customer brings us to the building site for an initial meeting, walks us back into the woods, and says, 'I want my house here,'" Gerbozy said. "In the survey and design phase, this precise location can be challenging with trees, brush and other necessary landscape changes that can't be seen by your eye alone."

After surveying, Gerbozy uses the LN-150 to lay out a homeowner’s dream design. The LN-150 laser reduces the time it takes to survey, design and review that design with the homeowner. The plan is ready to be approved by the customer in hours — not in several days like it used to take — Gerbozy emphasized.

"I can bring the owner back to the building site and say, 'Okay, we're standing in your living room; this will be your view,'" he explained. "Without doing hours of layout work, we can just walk to another spot to highlight their bedroom window."

Gerbozy said the LN-150 laser significantly improves the customer experience for his business. Besides that benefit, Gerbozy can create a digital survey file from the LN-150 to give to an excavator like Lipka.

"It just gives me peace of mind to know there's no question about if something got twisted and shifted or moved," he said. "It's a really slick process."

Partnerships and Technology Equal Efficiency

Working alongside Gerbozy and Lipka, we discovered another in-the-cab communication solution to check grade and landscape changes in real time against the topography design plan: Topcon’s MC-Mobile system.

A mobile mapping solution designed for efficient data collection in surveying and mapping applications, the MC-Mobile system uses GNSS (global navigation satellite system) technology or total station prism plus imaging sensors to rapidly create a digital map of terrain, infrastructure and assets with proven accuracy. The MC-Mobile system's satellite receivers and sensors are mounted on a machine, like Lipka's 85G excavator, to capture dynamic geospatial data and send it to a tablet.

With the MC-Mobile system, Gerbozy can mark trees with the prism pole and label the point removed. Gerbozy can then hand the file off via flash drive to Lipka. Lipka can take this file and update the tablet in the cab. Lipka will now see in real-time which trees are to be removed as he begins to work to install the home's septic system.

"I like to do something once and know that it is done right without having to come back and do it again," Lipka said.

Watch the video to see J. Martin Builders and Black Diamond Landworks optimize their productivity with RDO and technology.

To achieve the correct grade and slope, Lipka checks his work in real time to follow Gerbozy’s grade plan. Updates during the project are just a file transfer from the builder to the excavation contractor, Lipka. The beauty of this system is everyone sees the same plan. This eliminates all communication errors on the job site and allows Gerbozy to provide a layout to all his subcontractors. No more foundation mistakes or plumbing or electrical stubbed up in the wrong spot. No more walls or openings laid out incorrectly. The LN-150 is the answer for horizontal and vertical layout.

Technology and RDO's guidance catapulted productivity for Gerbozy and Lipka's teams. "We've seen our efficiency triple," Lipka noted. "It's been a game-changer."

Gerbozy and RDO’s training, dynamic surveying and digital mapping tools created the opportunity to massively move the needle on their business’ productivity through technology.

"There's no doubt RDO and technology have been a huge help," Lipka said. "The efficiency has increased our profitability because we can complete one project and move on to the next in less time than it takes the other guys.”

Despite the challenges many face in their first few years of business, Lipka said the new technology helps his small team of three reduce manual tasks, stay in the cab longer and go home sooner.

Overall, what I'm thrilled about for both Gerbozy and Lipka is what this technology means — more time not to work but to spend with families or another hobby, or better yet, perhaps a second career, like what I've found with RDO. Through dynamic mapping technology, communication and training, contractors can optimize their consistency and accuracy to do the job once.

Stephen Roach

With 30-plus years in the construction industry, Stephen Roach is passionate about helping owner-operators and contractors of all sizes embrace technology solutions to optimize their daily operations. As a former owner-operator, Roach understands the challenges contractors face. Now, as an RDO Equipment Co. Account Manager, he partners with technicians, technology experts and support teams to create effective solutions. In his free time, Roach spends time with his wife, daughters, son-in-law and granddaughter at the home he built in Montana.

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