When you're hustling to build an $11.5-million highway-reconstruction project, anything that boots production and profitability is welcome. That's why contractor A.M. Welles is particularly pleased with two things – their John Deere 750K Dozer and Topcon 3D-MC2 grade-control system.
"Traffic control's the main challenge with the Four Corners North project," says A.M. Welles Vice President Tim Hokanson. No doubt – the Norris, Montana, contractor needs to widen 3.1 miles of U.S. 191 from two lanes to five, and the state is requiring the contractor to accomplish this while maintaining two-way traffic throughout the project.
"We can't use a pilot car or switch over to one-lane traffic," explains Hokanson. "So we always have to be building ahead of ourselves; giving two-way traffic a place to go on one side while we work on the other. That's one of the main reasons we bought the 750K Dozer with a Topcon grade-control system."
Hokanson already had one Topcon system mounted on another dozer. By adding a similarly equipped 750K, the contractor now excavates subgrade in one place while filling with base course material in another. He says the Topcon-equipped dozers speed up production by about 20 percent. Between the two crawlers, Welles moved 350,000 to 400,000 cubic yards of material in just 100 days.
Plug. Play. Work.
When A.M. Welles was shopping for a new dozer, they wanted one that's grade-control ready – and that's just what they found in the 750K. Says Hokanson, "The feature I liked right off the bat is the ability to plug and play the Topcon system on the Deere. Everything is all set up in the cab; you just install it, plug it in, and turn it on. Within two hours it was ready to go."
Plus, the grade-control system eliminates the need for stakes and blue topping. "To date, the 750K in tandem with the grade-control system saved us in the neighborhood of $40,000 to $50,000 in staking- and blue-topping expenses. The machine/telematics combo also reduces the amount of equipment needed on the job.
"We're using our motor grader a little, but we didn't need stakers or another dozer to clean up behind the 750K. Grade use is reduced by 80 percent, I'd say."
Easy Doze It
A.M. Welles operator Chad Kent says the Topcon-equipped 750K is… "Awesome. It saves a lot of time. You can lay an eight-inch layer of base stone in one pass, and there's no blue topping or any of that. The Topcon 3D-MC-squared system is super-fast – I probably run the dozer twice as fast as I could without the grade control."
And this operator likes the dozer as much as the grade-control system. "I like the visibility and the hydrostatic transmission on the Deere 750K. The hydraulics are way faster and far more responsive than on our other dozer."