Installing an expensive machine control system on a piece of compact equipment rarely made financial sense in the past. But now the productivity benefits of the technology are available in a more cost-conscious package for compact excavators, compact track loaders and skid steers.
Topcon’s new MC-Mobile machine control solution for compact equipment allows users to design, build and check their work from one portable system. The technology was teased at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 and launched at World of Concrete 2022.
“These [compact] machines can move around the jobsite with the precision of traditional machine control that’s typically been geared to the heavy, big machines,” says Mark Jones, business development manager, Topcon. “Traditionally, the cost of the machine was approaching the cost of the technology. Now we have a solution that fits this market where these smaller machines are going to work.”
MC-Mobile is based off of Topcon’s MC-X platform, an easy-to-use and affordable machine control solution for mixed fleets. The MC-Mobile product line will offer 2D and 3D solutions, and Topcon says it is geared toward entry-level users completing short, day- to day-and-a-half-long jobs.
So what does Topcon mean by “mobile?" The technology is a three-in-one solution, allowing operators to check grade, create designs on the fly and self-perform site layouts without traditional staking. “If I’m a machine operator I can arrive onsite, take my machine off the trailer and measure what’s there to start with. Then I can go sit in the cab and design what I’m supposed to do and actually do it – trench it out or grade it,” says Oscar Cantu, construction content manager, Topcon. “The third step would be to check my work before I leave. That’s what we mean by mobile.” Cantu says landscaping, indoor warehouses and residential construction are good applications for this solution.
MC-Mobile’s displays and components are designed to be shared across numerous machines in owned or rental fleets. The pieces can also be moved from grade checking/layout rovers poles to the machine and back.
But it’s not just a solution for owner-operators. Cantu says large contractors will also benefit from having a similar software interface across all machines. “I can be tasked with a big machine or small machine and I don’t have to relearn. It’s the same process or workflow for me. It’s the same machine guidance.”
The system will be able to grow with the user, and more features are coming. “We’ll start with a laser to guide the machine, and over time, it will be GPS to guide the machine. We’ve had automatics for larger excavators for years – where you can put in your design, put your hands up, and it grades all by itself. We envision this product getting to an automatic level as well," says Cantu.
The company says the technology "enables contractors to get jobs done faster and more accurately – eliminating costly rework and allowing them to reallocate resources to other tasks on the jobsite." MC-Mobile will be available for purchase in April.