Simple, User Friendly Machine Guidance


iDig is a simple 2D excavator system that gives the operator a live position of the bucket to guide them to grade quickly and accurately.

It works with all makes, models and sizes of machine from little one tonne diggers up to mine excavators.

Wayne Nicholson, owner and operator of Combined Excavations, explains they have the iDig system fitted to their two 1.5 tonne and 13-tonne excavators.

“We utilise the 2D system to save us time on the ground as well as labour costs,” Mr Nicholson said.

iDig helps operators get to grade in a range of applications, including slopes and levels, whilst providing real time information on the position of the cutting edge. It removes the need to perform manual checking and measuring tasks multiple times per hour, by giving the operator the information at his fingertips.

combined excavations using iDig Machine guidance

2D and 3D machine systems explained

2D and 3D Excavator systems traditionally use a suite of sensors, cables and sometimes valves and in the case of 3D systems, GPS Antenna, Rovers and/or Base Stations to track the movements, position and location of the excavator.

iDig falls under the 2D Guidance category. This means that it will show the operator, on screen, where the bucket edge is in relation to a set benchmark.

iDig does not control or lock out hydraulic movement of the excavator, the operator still needs to skillfully and safely operate the machine.

Lacking GPS, a 2D System does not automatically know its local position or orientation, this is up to the operator to set and check.

2D Systems differ from 3D systems in one other important aspect: cost. Due to not having expensive GPS and survey gear as part of the overall kit, 2D systems are significantly cheaper than their 3D counterparts.

“There’s no second guessing with iDig,” Mr Nicholson added. “Once you know your datum heights and you set them into the system, you can start seeing where to dig. Then you can switch to single grade or dual grade depending on what you’re working on.”

Mr Nicholson said that he really values the safety benefits of the system. “iDig just saves having that extra person running around the machine to check grade, or near a live edge during a deep excavation,” he said. 

iDig is a wireless system that utilises easy to remove, solar powered sensors, making it more cost effective than other 2D machine guidance systems on the market.

Another key benefit is the ability to quickly transfer iDig between excavators by adding an additional base kit to each machine. These consist of additional mounting plates for the sensors, a bracket to hold the tablet and a light bar, so the core components can be swapped from one machine to the next.

“We purchased a second base kit so that we can use the one system on both our machines,” Mr Nicholson said. “It takes less than a minute to quickly unclip the sensors and the tablet and transfer them to the other excavator.” 

“The result is an easy to use guidance and volumetrics tool that delivers multiple benefits to operators and managers alike,” he added. “Operators can see live cut and fill information in the cab so they can work more productively, whilst operations and production managers can unlock powerful reporting capabilities to quantify how effective the dozer push strategy is working.”

Key Benefits of iDig

  • Eliminate costly overdigging
  • Improve workflow for other subcontractors
  • Price jobs more competitively and win more work
  • Reduce labour costs as well as consumables such as paint and pegs
  • Reduce machine wear, fuel and servicing costs
  • Increase on-site safety and compliance

iDig distributor Aptella has many years of industry expertise in the construction industry, with specialists across laser levelling, surveying and machine control technology to provide customers with the support and training required to get the most out of the technology.

“Aptella has been very supportive throughout the whole process of setting up iDig on our machines, calibrating it properly, answering any questions I had as I got to learn the system and so on,” Mr Nicholson said.

“The local rep often drops in to see me on site just to check how everything’s going and see if there’s anything he can help with, I can’t fault their back up support,” he added.

iDig typically has a return on investment period of between three to six months. Mr Nicholson says the return on investment has been excellent. “We’re a small two-man operation so the main savings have been in labour and time,” he said.

“I can have both of us operating machines, either the two diggers or a Bobcat we also have, without having to stop and start the second machine all the time for him to check levels or give me heights,” he added. “Now I can work on sand ups, footings, retention tank bases and so on without anyone else helping me, so it’s really sped up our processes for a small crew.”

Mr Nicholson also loves some of the handy extra features iDig comes with. “I use the built-in tape measure feature all the time,” he says. “It works like any other tape measure only you measure from point A to point B by moving the bucket – it’s just another little thing that saves a bit of time stopping and starting and jumping in and out of the machine,” he said.

“I’d never go back to digging without it,” he concluded. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *