Machine Control Made Simple & Affordable

Although machine control systems have been around for quite a while, with the many benefits they bring being well documented, it is reckoned that all the major suppliers of the product are still only managing a 20% market penetration. Many contractors remain hesitant to adopt the technology not least because of the cost and the perceived complexity of using machine control.  However, USA headquartered Hemisphere GNSS, who have offices around world, has been working hard to address those issues. 

We met up recently with Jürgen Reineke, Director of Business Development Europe Middle East & Africa at Hemisphere GNSS, when we were invited to Aurelia Limited’s state-of-the-art, purpose-built Operator Training Centre in Newmarket.  There, along with key customers and other interested parties, we witnessed the first ever installation in the UK of its new GradeMetrix machine control system. 

Jürgen says its new system, which offers full 2D, 2.5D (in-field design), and 3D machine control, is simple to use, easy to install and support and less expensive. He says it has been designed to offer the best return on investment in terms of features without becoming too complex for the average user. Even the relatively inexperienced can quickly pick up how to work with it – and it can be used on any type of machine or project. 

Installing GPS usually takes a couple of days with complex welding and fabrication required.  In addition, this is topped with a complex calibration and measuring process which can only be carried out by professional installers, usually with manufacturers accreditations.  However, GradeMetrix can be up and running within a couple of hours – and it boasts all the functions of a conventional system. What sets this new system apart is its infield design function, no complex designs are required, you just store your points and make a simple design, add a cross section or trench and away you go. 

GradeMetrix is an affordable machine control system with features that are not too complicated to operate…

Development of the GradeMetrix machine control system first began several years ago after Hemisphere discovered that up to 80% of the market had not yet invested in machine control. They found that many contractors were holding back because they reckoned machine control systems were too difficult to understand how to use and that it would be too big of an investment. That’s when Hemisphere set about manufacturing an affordable machine control system with features that wouldn’t be too complicated to operate.

The fact that Hemisphere manufacture all of its products themselves places the company in a unique position where it is able to build the solution and bring it to market at a substantially attractive price to open it up to a bigger audience – and what’s more, Hemisphere GNSS also offers a three-year warranty on its products, and pledges that its users will never have to pay a fee to upgrade the software. 

GradeMetrix uses an open architecture that allows it to work with your existing base stations and machines. It also includes all available Global Navigation Satellite System signals and Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) options without any additional activation fees required. 

The embedded 2.5D function allows operators to use the GNSS Guidance technology for a vast array of simple useful applications without the need for complex 3D files. Using only a few keystrokes you can easily create simple layers, single or dual slopes, ramps and even roads, using your GNSS as a reference. Also using the optional Hemisphere C631 base station, you can provide RTK corrections to your excavator or dozer – no survey points, no local transformations or projections needed.

During our visit we also had the opportunity to speak to Thomas Harris, one of Aurelia’s training instructors, who spent some time trying out the GradeMetrix system which was installed on a Doosan DX140LC excavator. “It’s really good, easy to work with, very user friendly,” he said. “It’s simple to add and remove offsets, the screen is really intuitive and I managed to pick it up really well. I am not from a machine control background, so having this opportunity to learn has been good. 

“We are in a big industry and it will only get bigger and this will be really good for the future. I hope we here at Aurelia will be able to offer full training on the product as well. It’s important to train operators from the start with new technology like this. Machine control is something we are always asked about. It is always good if you can maximise what machines can do and do more efficiently.”

Added Jürgen Reineke: “We have had two very good training days here. We have had people here with experience on other products and the feedback we have got tells us there really is a big difference between ours and the traditional systems.  That is exactly where we want to position ourselves – in between the low-cost systems and the traditional market players, so we are very excited to be introducing our products to the UK market.”

“This acquisition aligns with our long-term growth strategy and allows us to offer a new range of services to a wider audience…”

The training centre with its five acres of space proved to be perfect for the event, and its future growth was recently secured when Aurelia Limited was acquired by Blacks of Bacton, a leading player in the East Anglian agricultural sector.

A well-established training provider known for its expertise in plant operator training, Aurelia was founded by Trevor Anderson in 1997 after demand grew considerably for his freelance training services.  Plant operator training is in Trevor’s blood as his father had established and owned William Anderson Plant Hire Limited some years earlier.

The company is an accredited CPCS, NPORS, IPAF, ALLMI and NVQ Training and Test Centre and its operator training courses cover most categories of construction plant equipment, powered access platforms and industrial forklift trucks as well as lorry loader and slinger signaller. The company also offers a wealth of classroom-based learning which is ever expanding.   .

Commented Blacks of Bacton Managing Director, James Black: “We are excited to welcome the talented team at Aurelia into the Blacks of Bacton family. This acquisition aligns with our long-term growth strategy and allows us to offer a new range of services to a wider audience. We are confident that, together, we will achieve new heights of success.”

Trevor Anderson, Managing Director of Aurelia Limited, added: “I’m delighted to have found a like-minded company to take Aurelia to the next stage of growth. I’m happy to say that I will continue to be a part of the business for the immediate future and look forward to passing on my knowledge to a new generation of trainers.”