3D modeling and 3D machine control

3D machine control is an automation technology used in road construction, which controls the mechanism independently of the operator based on the 3D surface model. Figuratively speaking, the bulldozer knows exactly how to keep the blade so that the material would be levelled according to the project. The operator must only drive and press the button. Accurate heights and gradients will be set by 3D machine control automation.

Machine control technology needs a positioning system. Generally, GPS / GNSS positioning is used for this purpose. In addition to satellites, it is necessary to use a local base station that sends the correction data. In cases where the sky is covered (indoors) or the satellite signal is obstructed (by high buildings, at the edge of the forest), an electronic tachometer is used.

3D design and BIM

Construction machines equipped with 3D automation (bulldozer, excavator, grader, etc.) use a 3D surface model. Today, most of the models are still plane 2D drawings. However, in recent years, good progress has been made in the development of BIM (building information modeling) technology in general construction. Riigi Kinnisvara AS has organized several design project procurements with the requirement to use BIM technology. Like in general construction, infrastructure BIM technology is also being developed road construction. In the field of 3D infrastructure construction, the Nordic countries have been at the frontline of development work. In Estonia, the biggest client of infrastructure construction has been Road Administration thanks to whom we are likely to see the increase of 3D design modeling also in road construction in the coming years.

Despite the fact that in the designing the leap to the 3D modeling world is still to be made – especially in road construction – Kaurits has been ready to use the technology on the construction site for years. Today, large infrastructure objects are no longer imaginable without 3D machine control. 3D automation enables to work much faster and more accurately than traditional methods (lasers, sticks, geodesists, etc.). The operator of the mechanism knows exactly in which work segment he/she is, what and how deeply needs to be excavated or what to plan for. The possibility of an error, as well as excessive work and waste, is ruled out when using the right surface model.

Kaurits’ capability of 3D machine control and 3D modeling

Kaurits is a unique company in the field of 3D machine control in Estonia. We have over ten years of experience in handling 3D automation. We have the largest machinery fleet equipped with 3D devices. We ourselves install the 3D equipment to our excavators and bulldozers. In addition, we produce all 3D models, i.e. we convert 2D designs into a suitable format for use on machines.

Kaurits machinery uses the machine control devices by Topcon – the leading manufacturer of machine control. Kaurits works closely with the importer of Topcon equipment in Estonia – Hades-Invest OÜ.

In addition, our site managers are equipped with geodetic instruments. We use a real-time (RTK) GPS technology based rover. We do marking and as-built measurements. At more complex objects, it adds a lot of value. Kaurits can perform volume calculations of earthmoving works in real-time. In case of fast-changing project solutions, we can usually respond instantly, either by changing the model or by marking down the updated information, and perform control instantly on the site.

Outstanding 3D reference projects

As besides our own projects we offer 3D service also on our rental equipment, we have modeled (and improved) a number of different infrastructure projects. The most challenging have been the closure of Kiviõli ash hill and the renovation of Liiapeksi-Loobu road section that we worked on as a contractor. We used laser scanning to accurately analyze the volume of soil when covering the ash hill in Kiviõli (we created a new surface model of the hill based on the analysis of model surfaces, so we could distribute the existing material accurately). Liiapeksi-Loobu road section was a 20-kilometer long line object that needed to have a special network of base stations created. In addition, it was challenging to design an object based on laser scanning data.


Taavi Müntel

GPS General Specialist (3D Modeling, Machine Control)

+372 5333 4076