Project precision on the NorthConnex

When Bitu-mill were tasked with cutting surfaces for the NorthConnex and Pacific Highway the company turned to C R Kennedy for the latest automated industry technology.

The NorthConnex is one of Sydney’s largest infrastructure projects, involving the construction of twin nine-kilometre tunnels connecting the M1 and the M2 motorways.

As more than half of the tunnels are 60 metres deep into the ground, the project produced unfavourable ground conditions for planning and shaping ground surfaces.

When Bitu-mill was given the task of cutting out the road in the tunnels, the company knew ground conditions called for an intelligent system to ensure accurate cutting and avoid delays. Bitu-mill required an automated milling system for the job so looked to its long-term supplier C R Kennedy.

The Leica iCON PAVE was Bitu-mill’s machine control system of choice, following the successful use of other Leica products.

C R Kennedy are the exclusive distributor for Swiss company Leica Geosystems in Australia and provided Bitu-mill with iCON PAVE.

It also supplies a range of technological equipment for the surveying, construction, mining, mapping and wider geospatial industries.

Bitu-mill Senior Surveyor Tague O’Callaghan was tasked with setting up the profiling machines. “The level of service and attention to detail with C R Kennedy and the good working relationship they have with our surveying department was a good sign for us to keep using the products they supply,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

“We find it makes sense to have one brand of equipment across the company and the service provided by the Leica technology, we believe, is market leading.”

Bitu-mill use Leica 3D excavator systems and survey equipment, which are similar to the 3D milling control system and keeps consistency of controls for the operators.

The Leica iCON PAVE is a 3D milling system which allows the operator to control the cutting depth of a milling machine with either GPS or total station control through a dedicated onboard machine computer.

Mr. O’Callaghan says the Leica iCON PAVE helps to control the milling machines to achieve the optimum cut for the road.

“Essentially, the control system manages the levels on a project and betters the accuracies when you input the correct data,” he says.

For each project, an authoritative body, such as the Victorian Department of Transport, will set specific tolerances to restrict certain measurements such as the length, width and depth of the road.

“The Leica iCON PAVE is able to cut within about five millimetres of tolerances, enabling us to confidently meet requirements and increase the quality of our projects,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

The Leica iCON PAVE can reduce the need to have a surveyor on site at all times as workers do not have to peg out the site prior to cutting. All of the cutting measurements are entered into the control system for the machine to follow.

“On the North and West Connex, at times the ground was so wet and muddy we couldn’t see our feet, but the machine, when controlled, can run through that surface accurately. It meant we could keep working when others couldn’t and the project wasn’t affected as much by the weather,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

Bitu-mill are also using the system on the Pacific Highway upgrade from Woolgoolga to Ballina, which involves works on 155 kilometres of the road.

“With a project this large you can save thousands of tonnes of asphalt simply by cutting to the exact measurements,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

“We could not achieve the accuracy of the applications we put into this program without it. The program helps with productivity and results in cost savings by minimising the amount of material that has to be placed when cutting,” he says.

The company is also currently testing the Leica PA10, a personal aid system. The PA10, supplied by C R Kennedy, is a new product to track machines and workers onsite to increase safety.

The system combines a personal tag worn by workers on site which communicates directly with sensors on the machines.

The PA10 system can be used on any machine. Up to seven sensors are retrofitted onto each machine with an LED display and alarm installed in the cabin for the machine operator.

It offers three customisable zones of distance around the machine. At each zone, the operator is informed of workers within that proximity.

“Our warning zones are set at 10, six and three metres, so when a worker is in the first two zones this is displayed on screen in the cabin. If there is a worker in the closest zone, the machine operator will hear an alarm and the wearable tag will vibrate,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

The aim of the Leica PA10 is to increase awareness for machine operators and pedestrian workers alike, creating a safer worksite.

“It acts as a prior-warning system for our operators. We have found operators are aware of where the workers and other equipment are at all times, and can act in advance to prevent any accidents,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

Bitu-mill will continue working with C R Kennedy well into the future to continue the strong relationship and enabling access to the latest industry technology.   

“C R Kennedy offers great products but they also have supported us from the start of projects, throughout and even afterwards,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

He says there is always a dedicated person from C R Kennedy to explain the product, run through how it works or explain how to repair it.

“Whenever I have called them, at any hour, they answer, it’s the kind of support you need when working on projects,” Mr. O’Callaghan says.

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