Trimble: On making construction efficient as manufacturing

Trimble: On making construction efficient as manufacturing

With the boost in technology adoption driven by the pandemic, Trimble saw a massive shift in the Indian market as well. When the CW team recently met Didier Colin, Senior Director of Sales - EAMEI, Heavy Civil Construction Division, Trimble Germany GmbH, and Rajan Aiyer, MD, GM, SAARC Regi...

With the boost in technology adoption driven by the pandemic, Trimble saw a massive shift in the Indian market as well. When the CW team recently met Didier Colin, Senior Director of Sales - EAMEI, Heavy Civil Construction Division, Trimble Germany GmbH, and Rajan Aiyer, MD, GM, SAARC Region, Trimble Information Technologies India, at Excon in Bengaluru, they shared how the industry has been performing and how the company has innovated in recent years in terms of technology. With Excon being among the first post-pandemic offline expos of its size to take off, what are the solutions you showcased to visitors? Didier: We showcased solutions for horizontal construction – earthmoving, paving, marine and water applications. We also have compactors and concrete and asphalt paver solutions available through our partners in India. We have large marine construction solution for cranes, block placement and excavators for underwater work, waterways or harbours. We are showcasing the fact that our technology, installed on any construction machine, can make it more efficient and productive, with minimal errors and no reworks. What makes your product unique? Didier: We have over 50 years of experience in designing components that can work in all types of environments, from extreme heat to cold. When you have multiple fragile components on a machine, it can quickly create issues. And we design to prevent these issues. Additionally, our construction division comprises field experts with insights on how the machine should be and react. So, there is a constant focus on discussion and development. How can Trimble transform the construction industry with its digital construction processes? Didier: Contractors in India are usually hesitant to adopt technology in the face of cheap manual labour. This is a bias we have faced in every other country. The first thing is to demonstrate and prove that the system works and to help a contractor understand the benefits – such as increasing the productivity of a motor grader up to twice within a day or two on the same machine with the same operator, you double the productivity of the machine. Once they see how easy it is, many operators recognise its other benefits. It is less fatiguing and, more important, it gives operators all the information: they know what they have to do and they do not need to wait for a surveyor or anyone. The work environment is improved and the job site is more efficient now. Which are your stronger markets in India? Aiyer: For machine control, we are the No. 1 player with a strong market share. We are spread across the country. Wherever there are projects – highway, airport, port – a Trimble solution is being used. Typically, our success has been high in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat and where there are marine construction projects, which includes states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. We are also present in countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and so on. For our technology, we are using India as a base to expand. How do Trimble’s machine control technologies benefit contractors? Didier: There are several benefits for contractors. First, the technology provides proper reference points, which results in good survey information. If contractors have that, it ensures an accurate project. As the operators know what they have to do and there are no errors or mistakes, what usually takes 100 hours to do can be done in 70 hours or less. This results in fuel savings, less machine wear and labour savings. We are also huge on people’s safety; as the operator in the machine has all the information and does not need anyone to tell him what he to do, he works alone with no pedestrians around the machine to monitor or guide him. These people can also be used somewhere else in a more efficient manner. Aiyer: We offer environmental and economic benefits along with safety because the machines are not used roughly – by going hard on a rock or scooping more or misusing the machine in any way, as it allows precision construction – without knowledge, therefore lasting longer. Additionally, at night, the same operator can use the machine without anybody’s help. That means, again, there are no people around. Having people around for stakeout increases their chances of getting into an accident. Please tell us about the latest digital technologies offered by Trimble. Didier: What we have been doing so far and are working towards is improving the entire site efficiency and not just one machine or few machines. It involves improving the data flow, where one can easily send data in a 3D or 4D form to the machine. A changed design can be sent from the office to the selected machine or all the machines onsite simultaneously. It is also always possible to track, in a day, how much area has been graded, how much volume has been excavated, and the status of any other ongoing activity. All this is included in the data flow, which is steady and consistent using our software, across the machines, the design team and the admin team. How can Trimble help support the Government’s target of 50 km of road construction per day? Didier: The question for me is how can we do what the Government is asking without using technology? To do this, we do not just need people and machines but a different mindset, different processes that see differently and by using technology. Aiyer: What is being spoken about today is 50 km of world-class roads. It is about utilising every machine efficiently and measuring the quality of the product every step of the way, without any rework. We help get the work right the first time with the highest quality and tight tolerances of as low as plus minus 2 mm, which means our road thickness is so accurate that it involves no rework. How was the company’s business during the pandemic? Aiyer: The pandemic gave us the opportunity as a technology company to reorganise our thought processes and re-emphasise what we want to convey to the market. One of its impacts was labour shortage. Different machines have different operators; traditionally, it is considered that paver operators are the most skilled, followed by grader operators and then compactor operators. But in the pandemic, while there was a scarcity of these skilled operators – there was none for compactor operators. We installed this technology on these machines and had the compactor operators operate the motor grader – a machine that is much more complex. Soon, we had them not just running a grinder but also doing it with efficiency and high productivity. Didier: When the machines reach onsite and are ready to go and start to produce, you have to anticipate a lot of things to be more efficient in the process. For instance, you need to increase the supply of materials to keep up with the increased speed of production; you will need more or better cycle trucks in order to be able to produce more. Aiyer: And that is where our AI helps, right? It is because of the information contractors gain that they get better at bidding more precisely, which then increases their profitability. Going forward, what’s next for Trimble? Aiyer: Our goal is to connect all the stakeholders and give them information in real time as and when they need it on the project. Imagine how efficient manufacturing has become because every step of the way has been optimised. We want to make construction as efficient as manufacturing.

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