GPS in Construction: Guiding Earthmovers with Blade-Like Precision

GPS keeps earthmoving with the kind of precision that just wasn't possible prior to the digital revolution in construction. While most people think of navigation when they hear the term 'GPS,' that's only one aspect of the satellite positioning technology. In recent years, it has become a common fixture on all sorts of equipment, transmitting status and location updates that help construction companies monitor and manage their fleets.

But one of the earliest ways GPS technology was put to work in the construction industry is on earthmoving machines, helping to guide their blades with unparalleled precision. Project-specific design information developed in 3D programs is uploaded onto the earthmover's computer, comparing the position of its blades with set coordinates.

Glancing at full-color screens on the dashboard, equipment operators driving GPS-equipped earthmovers get grade information anywhere on a jobsite, providing constant feedback that guides them to the exact position required and even telling them whether the blades are going into the ground at the right depth.

That gives operators the confidence they need to set the machines on automatic and rely on the GPS for guidance, saving time. The old-fashioned means of guiding earthmoving equipment involved stakes and lasers, which took a lot more time to set up and often led to imperfect results. Machine-controlled systems make equipment more efficient, eliminating 90 percent of the stakes that would normally be required. That reduces both equipment costs and survey costs.

Earthmoving equipment is increasingly sold with GPS devices already installed, and though this technology may be pricier than older models, it comes with cost-saving benefits. Machines equipped with GPS can grade with fewer passes, using less fuel and incurring less wear so it lasts longer over time.

But it's not just new equipment being outfitted with GPS technology. United Rentals will be adding GPS to approximately 160,000 rental units in 2015, enhancing the efficiency of these machines and making them an even more valuable part of your construction fleet.

Find out more about United Rentals equipment rental solutions at or call 800.UR.RENTS.