Milling work in road construction often has a different volume than requested in the tender. In the past, a surveyor was always needed to bill the job transparently. But partner companies can save themselves these additional costs if they use a networked solution for digitizing the construction site. It does the accounting precisely and automatically.
The challenge: Documenting milling work in road construction
Cold milling machines for road surfaces are impressive machines: weighing 50 tons and with engine outputs of up to 1,000 hp. The rotating milling drum has a width of up to four meters, a milling depth of up to 35 cm and mills off old road pavements in a single pass. The responsible contractors must accurately document the work performed, as they are paid by the area milled. In addition, lots advertised and work actually performed often do not match exactly.
For large projects, there are external surveyors, but they must be paid separately. For smaller jobs, the operators of the milling machine have to do this work afterwards. This is particularly time-consuming and error-prone in the case of complicated sections such as intersections or traffic circles. Also, there are many projects where a short distance behind the milling machine follows a production machine that applies new pavement. There is no way for the machine operator to correctly determine the size of the milled area.
Digitization offers solutions here: Road construction machines can also be networked via the Industrial Internet of Things (Industrial IoT, IIoT). This automatically transfers data about the work performed to the service provider and uses it for correct billing.
The solution: Reliably determine performance data
Wirtgen GmbH, based in Windhagen near Bonn, Germany, is a specialist in the design, manufacture and sale of road construction machinery and is part of Deere & Company (main brand: John Deere). For the networking of its milling machines, the company has developed the “Wirtgen Performance Tracker (WPT)” solution together with the IoT specialists from Digital Enabler. It uses the infrastructure of the WITOS telematics solution developed by Wirtgen.
The WPT is a combination of hardware and software. A telematics unit with a GPS module is connected to a laser scanner that automatically and objectively measures the milling performance. This includes the milling volume, depth, width, tonnage, the number of trucks and additional services during milling. The software component on the machine is used to preprocess the data so that the mobile connection is not overloaded.
The second software component is the backend in Wirtgen’s data center. It generates job and daily reports from the data and sends them by e-mail to the respective milling service provider. These reports serve as objective performance documentation for developers. The backend is multi-client capable and processes the data depending on the machine type.
To fully automate the process, WPT provides an application programming interface (API) that imports data into other customer applications. The WPT is configured and controlled via its own web interface.
The result: A powerful flow of information
Construction machinery is also becoming increasingly intelligent through networking and connection to computer systems. This helps in many areas: The machine control relieves the machine operator, fleet management solutions inform the customer about the location of the machine and the manufacturer about necessary maintenance. Documentation systems such as the Wirtgen Performance Tracker accelerate the billing of services rendered.
IoT solutions of this kind create a powerful flow of information that makes road construction processes easier, faster and more economical to complete. Wirtgen refers to this as “Connected Milling”. It stands for the direct flow of information between machine, operator, service workshop and dispatch office. This makes billing for the service more accurate and faster, as lengthy measurement work or even expensive re-measurements are no longer necessary in the event of a conflict.