Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. reduces costs by utilizing Smart Construction Remote to transfer files from the office to the field
Valuing hard work, investing in its employees, adapting to the markets, and taking chances on new opportunities has made Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. (ESS) successful. For the past 50 years, that formula has propelled the Columbia-based firm into one of Missouri’s largest full-service civil contractors with about 1,800 employees.
“Our capabilities include everything from full site development to bridge installation to every aspect of paving,” said Tyler Grotewiel, Surveying and Construction Technology Manager. “We have over 200 projects in the works at any one time. In addition to core values, ESS has always been very forward-looking when it comes to adopting technology that increases efficiency on every site.”
One of the company’s earliest technology adoptions was adding aftermarket GPS grade control systems into its earthmoving operations, which improved its productivity. More recently, ESS began utilizing Komatsu’s intelligent Machine Control (iMC) dozers.
“When I started here 17 years ago, we had a few machines with GPS, and now we have more than 100,” said Grotewiel, noting that ESS has also adopted GPS in its paving operations. “Knowing where you are in relation to final elevation and only having to move dirt once really increased our efficiency. It also cut costs because there is no rework, less wasted material, and no need for a grade checker. Every site we do now has a GPS model, whether it’s a small parking lot or a large highway job.”
“Solution we needed”
Grotewiel manages a group of about 30 people at ESS who focus on construction layout and prepare data files for machine control. About one-third of them are building 3D GPS models from the data as well as from CAD (computer-aided design) drawings from engineers and transportation departments.
“Our staff is outstanding at building accurate models that can be uploaded directly into the machines, but as anyone in the construction industry knows, plan changes are inevitable,” said Grotewiel. “In the past, that meant we had to physically drive to a project with a thumb drive to update files. Our projects are spread out across a large territory that covers multiple states, so it’s time-consuming and a major expense in fuel to do that.”
“We were looking for a way to reduce or eliminate the hassle, and our research determined that Komatsu’s Smart Construction Remote was the solution we needed. The fact that it’s compatible with both Topcon and Trimble systems is a huge benefit. We have used it with both our Komatsu and competitive machines.”
Grotewiel added, “We compared it to other solutions in the market and found Smart Construction Remote to be more user-friendly, too. The process is simple. All you have to do is log into the website, find the machine or machines that you want to send the file to, and drag and drop the file to them. It’s nearly instantaneous, and the operator doesn’t have to do anything. We have four offices, and I estimate that we use Smart Construction Remote about 15 times per week at each one. I don’t have to pay someone to drive the file to the job site, and the operators get the information faster.”
See what the operator does
If an operator has a question or an issue, Grotewiel and his team can assist them from the office because Smart Construction Remote allows direct remote access to a machine.
“Instead of having to drive to the site, we can see what the operator sees on the screen in the machine,” said Grotewiel. “If necessary, I can actually take control remotely to directly address the issue.”
Operator Gage Snider says Smart Construction Remote has also notably increased the company’s production.
“If there is an update, it’s just done,” stated Snider. “You don’t have to wait on somebody to show up. It comes to the machine and is done automatically, so I keep moving dirt without having to worry about the plan being outdated. Because it’s done remotely, most of the time I don’t even know it’s been done.”
Initial setup, ongoing support
ESS worked with its local Komatsu distributor to access Smart Construction Remote. Distributor representatives helped ESS with the setup, including the installation of cellular modems that are used for communication to load and update plans.
“They remain an invaluable resource because they guided us through the initial setup, helped us through the learning curve, and provide ongoing support,” said Grotewiel. “As we were adding Smart Construction Remote, our modems had to be upgraded to 4G, which was a big undertaking, and they were there every step of the way. They have ensured our successful use of Smart Construction Remote. Because of that — and the savings we are seeing — our plans include working with them to add it to more machines. We highly recommend Smart Construction Remote.”
**The opinions expressed here are from the end users who are quoted.