Looking at the offerings from equipment manufacturers on display at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG show, held in Las Vegas on March 10-13, it would be easy to assume it was all about the bigger and stronger machines. But long-promised technologies that could change the way these machines operate are fast becoming commercial offerings.

“To further unlock the benefits of connectivity, we’re developing simpler ways to generate measurement data,” says Rod Schrader, chairman and CEO of Komatsu America. The company is launching a suite of services aimed at expanding on its line of intelligent earthmoving machines’ 3D grade-control capabilities. Remote loading of design files and remote viewing of what the operator is seeing are part of the package, as well as fully integrated data from regular drone flyovers.

Komatsu is also expanding beyond its own machines, offering to equip any excavator with 3D grade-control. “The new Smart Construction retrofit will be a high-value, entry-level solution to offer every excavator operator access to 3D design data and 3D topography data on every excavator on your site,” says Schrader.

The company also announced new partnerships as part of its Smart Construction offering, including with 3D mapping data firm Cesium. “There is an incredible amount of 3D data on jobsites, from the CAD model, to drone surveys, to rover surveys, to as-built data from intelligent machines,” Cesium CEO Patrick Cozzi said to an assembled crowd at Komatsu’s booth. “With Cesium powering the Smart Construction dashboard, we’ll be able to monitor the progress of your jobsite, from anywhere in the world.”

Cozzi says that integrating 3D data from disparate sources is the key step forward for earthmoving. “[With Cesium] you can determine the progress between any two points in time, for example, the current drone survey versus the design model, or the current drone survey fused with the as-built data, versus the first drone survey.”

Across the show floor at CONEXPO, Caterpillar also had some new connected technologies on display. The new Cat Command suite includes the release version of fully remote-control equipment that allows an operator to work from anywhere with a decent internet connection. Initially piloted on sensitive and dangerous sites such as coal ash ponds (ENR 1/13/20 p. 22), Cat is offering it as a package for its D6 XE dozer and 930M wheel loader. Full remote control for excavators is also in the works.