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RDO INTEGRATED CONTROLS BLOG - April, 2016


Waste Not Want Not: Municipal Landfill Sees Benefit of Carlson’s LandfillGrade System

Waste Not Want Not: Municipal Landfill Sees Benefit of Carlson’s LandfillGrade System

According to the US Census Bureau, the current U.S. population is roughly 319 million. And while these 319 million residents have a number of distinguishing, sometimes unique, characteristics which link and separate them, one of the overarching commonalities we all share is our ability to generate garbage.

Today, our garbage, or Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), is collected and deposited into highly engineered facilities known as landfills. Gone are the city dumps of the early 19th century where rainwater would regularly wash uncovered pollutants from unlined holes into our lakes and streams. Now, every day these membrane-lined landfills receive, layer, compact, and cover municipal waste in specially designed pits or cells. And, each engineered cell must be filled according to the permitted design file in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations; failure to comply will certainly result in substantial fines.

RDO Integrated Controls has been offering a solution to landfill managers in the form of GNSS and GPS technology. In short, GPS technology allows landfill managers to pivot from the costly, labor intensive and fairly inaccurate practice of driving wooden stakes into the landfill for grade reference. For the past several years, the RDOIC team has been showcasing the Carlson Software GPS LandfillGradeTM System to municipal and privately run landfills. Once installed, landfill managers quickly see significant improvement in the form of tighter, more accurate slopes, and better overall waste compaction.

With this in mind, Account Manager Michael Schmaltz approached the municipal landfill for the City of Minot, ND, and offered them a chance to greatly improve their site’s operational profile. Mike coordinated a product demonstration with the City Sanitation Superintendent, installing the Carlson GPS system on their landfill compactor. For several weeks, Mike worked closely with the landfill team; checking the surface of the landfill, swapping out a base with UHF radio, training operators on the equipment, checking software connection status, and generally managing the project from the front.

After several weeks of running the Carlson system on their landfill, the equipment operators and management staff could easily see improvements to their engineered slopes. These improvements translated to improved management of their incoming waste stream, increase in trash compaction, and more control of the site’s landfill-water-runoff – all regulatory hot button items.

The Carlson LandfillGradeTM System quickly proved its worth: the return on investment was proven in how fast the equipment operators integrated the new technology into their daily compacting activities, and how rapidly that integration positively transformed the landfill surface. More importantly, the service and support aspect of the product demonstration, from beginning to end, was the shining example of how our team approaches landfill customers. The technology side, paired with Mike’s commitment to training and supporting the landfill, has set the bar high and demonstrated one of our company’s Core Values: Build Customers for Life.

In summary, as RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Integrated Controls build future business opportunities using innovation, technology, and strategic thinking, we’re never far from the roots of what has made us successful in the first place – our team members’ personal commitment to our customers.

Finally, though landfills are not the most attractive workplace on the planet, they’re an integral part of any municipalities’ infrastructure. It’s clear that we’re committed to our landfill customers, ensuring they’re afforded with the latest in technology advancements.

 

April 26, 2016  |  Category:

Aerial Targets and Drones – Be Prepared

Aerial Targets and Drones – Be Prepared

One of the important differences between a drone being a tool or a toy is the ability to produce accurate data. The principle way to produce accurate topo, point cloud, photographic data is to tie it to the ground through the use of aerial targets. The targets match the features in the collected data to known ground coordinates which rotate, scale, and elevate the data. The corrected data from the drone is now considered accurate. The measurements can be repeated by others at the site using those same target reference points.

Target How To
The task of putting down aerial targets can be considered tedious but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some recommendations and best practices when utilizing targets:

  1. Each manufacturer of commercial drones has a “How To” on what targets to use and where to put them.
  2. The preparation of the targets and the locations can be done well in advance of a flight. I use Google Earth to look over the boundary of the proposed area to be flown.
  3. You can create an area and determine distance between points while checking to see where the trees are. Placement of the targets will usually need to change over time though. The original targets are usually placed where they won’t be disturbed but sometimes are. Having a few extra targets in the bed of the pickup truck is always handy. They can be placed “On the Fly” and picked up after the flight. You will have to get them measured before you pick them up, usually as soon as you place them with the site survey GPS system, but not necessarily before the flight. You can add the coordinates for the targets in the processing software after the flight if the rover is tied up but you want to fly now. I know some who place a large “+” on the ground with inverted marking paint and a nail in the center. The point being to be prepared and have a few extra targets when needed. There may be a new low point in a pit or a high wall area that you want to be sure to account for. The target may only be there as a check point.  Hover the mouse pointer over the target to see if the correct values were generated when compared to a direct measurement.

As companies get used to using a drone, they will expect the immediate gratification speed at which they gather information to become the norm. It would be unfortunate and a little costly if a flight crew had to go back to fly the site again, for the same information, with better target placement. So be a good “scout,” plan the area, be prepared with a few extra targets, and get it done right the first time.

 

April 19, 2016  |  Category:

How GPS Surveying Can Benefit Your Next Project

How GPS Surveying Can Benefit Your Next Project

If you are not currently using GPS (Global Positioning System, the US satellite system) technology, you should take a moment and reconsider. Faster results, increased productivity, and improved accuracy are all benefits you may be leaving on the table.

GPS is now a well-established tool in use all over the world. There are two major systems in play today: the US GPS and Russian GLONASS; and several more are coming online soon, including the Chinese Beidou, European Galileo, and systems from India and Japan. While GPS has come to refer to all these systems, for convenience and clarity, they are collectively referred to as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems). Beyond the GPS you know in your car or phone, GNSS is providing positioning data that are unmatched for their accuracy and reliability, and here’s how.

  1. Save time and money. GPS data can be gathered at a rate that makes conventional data collection seem antiquated. As fast as the operator can walk, pause, press a key to record, and then move along, data can be collected. No more waiting for the instrument operator to find the prism, dial precisely, take the measurement, receive the information from the rodman on coding, and signal the rodman to move on to the next point. This high rate of data collection is achieved with one less employee, further reducing costs.
  2. Increased productivity. Many of us remember running traverses for the first few days of a survey. With GPS, those days are a memory. Conventional methods required traveling in short leaps, limited by line-of-sight and magnification, while GPS is limited by radio signal strength and computational rigor. Since GPS does not rely on interconnected, intervisible stations painstakingly observed by highly trained crews, less trained operators can establish high precision control over vast areas with relative ease by observing remote stations for shorter periods.
  3. Improved accuracy. The data collection process is further enhanced by the process by which observations are made. In conventional surveying, a single error can result in the loss of a day’s work. One bad back sight, or slipped lower motion, can provide seemingly endless amounts of strife while the cause is rooted out, if it is discovered at all. GPS observations are made over time, from a continuous flow of data, and errors in one observation, do not carry over into the rest. With a bad initialization rate of 1 in 10,000, and advanced computing filters, errors are generally confined to human errors and rare “bad shots,” both of which can be mitigated by simple field methods.

In today’s workplace, ignoring an established technology that provides labor cost savings, an increase in production rate, inherent accuracy that far surpasses conventional methods, and is usable by operators with significantly less training is simply poor business. The old adage that, “you can have your choice of fast, accurate, and cheap, but you can only have two” is fading into the past. It is time to take a closer look at what you are missing.

Learn more about the GPS solutions our team can provide and contact us to get started. 

 

April 12, 2016  |  Category:

Big UAS Regulatory Changes from the FAA

Big UAS Regulatory Changes from the FAA

Two Big Changes that affect Commercial UAV Operators

On March 28, the FAA announced UAV regulatory changes to the blanket COA (certificates of waiver or authorization) and commercial online registration changes. Since the announcement last week, our team has fielded many questions, calls, and concerns.

Keep reading for a summary of the changes and what they mean to you.

Blanket COA Raised to 400’
As you may know, every 333 Exemption received has included a Blanket COA which allows its recipient to fly up to 200’ in the National Airspace and in uncontrolled airspace. That has now been raised to 400’. This is valid for any current exemption, not just new ones. You can download a copy for your records at http://goo.gl/XshOcw.

Any COA requests you may have pending for 400’ within class G airspace will be suspended by the FAA. You’ll get an email explaining that the Blanket COA will suffice. If your COA request is not purely just to get to 400’ and is for other reasons, the COA process should continue. This is great news as we all know photogrammetry below 200’ can be problematic.

Online Commercial UAV Registration is Now Available
In December 2015, the FAA launched an online registration system for recreational UAV operators: https://registermyuas.faa.gov/.

This system allows recreational users to fly any small UAS legally as long as it is marked with the user’s registration number. Commercial operations were not included. This week, that system has been expanded to include registration for the use of commercial small UAS. The operator creates an account, then individually adds every UAV they intend to fly for commercial purposes. Each UAV is then assigned a registration number which must be attached to the aircraft.

This new system bypasses the typical two to three month process that includes notarized documentation and registration forms to mail. If you are already in the process of registering your aircraft the previous way, you need not do anything; you can also register online. Your aircraft will be registered with an N number in the new system. Both are valid and do not cancel each other out.

If you have questions related to the FAA’s new ruling or any questions pertaining to UAVs, contact the experts at RDO Integrated Controls today.

 

April 6, 2016  |  Category:

Top Five Benefits of RDOIC’s Individualized Company Training

Top Five Benefits of RDOIC’s Individualized Company Training

With the constant improvement of GPS and machine control systems, we want to ensure our customers are kept up-to-speed on the newest options and systems available. And one way we do that is by offering individualized, company-specific training.

At times anything “customized” or “personalized” can seem like another added expense, and in today’s challenging economy, even frivolous. But onsite, individualized training, with content specific to your company’s needs, has a lot of benefits – and can end up saving you money in the long run. Here’s how:

  1. One message – one time. Our trainings provide valuable information to everyone in an organization – from the owners to the grade checkers – by providing up-to-date information on the latest features from our manufacturer partners.
  2. Fleetshield Perks. If a customer is enrolled in our Fleetshield services, we’re able to pull up their account history and identify and address any concerns or issues that may have come up. We can then dive into those areas and make sure everyone feels comfortable for the upcoming year.
  3. Looking ahead. Not only do we get to look back on the prior year, but we get to look forward to the projects ahead. This allows us to work through these projects in a classroom setting and anticipate any concerns or potential issues and ensure everyone has the knowledge to work through whatever comes up.
  4. Content geared specifically for your needs. Whether it is an annual refresher for customers who adopted this technology years ago, or workshops provided to a crew just getting started with machine control and GPS systems, our trainings help companies hit the ground running when it’s time to move dirt.
  5. Increased attendance and retention. Since we started offering individualized company training, compared to large, more generalized group trainings, we have seen more participation on a per-company basis and an increase in retention of material covered.

Ryan Lefor is the GPS Earthwork Supervisor for Industrial Builders in West Fargo, North Dakota and has participated in a handful of individualized company trainings conducted by the RDOIC team.

He says the company-specific trainings have been very beneficial to their business. “Our operators and grade checkers get the opportunity to cover their specific issues as well as find out new and improved ways to complete their projects. As the supervisor, I’m able to see the newest products and features available from Topcon so we can implement them in our upcoming projects.”

If you’re interested in learning more about individualized trainings for your business, don’t hesitate to contact our team.

 

April 4, 2016  |  Category: