GMW paving the way with machine guidance

Friday 27 October, 2023

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) is taking an innovative approach to its works projects to help create major efficiencies.

During the 2023 irrigation off-season, GMW undertook largescale remodelling works on parts of the Murray Valley and Waranga Western channels. Notably, these works were completed using machine guidance.

Machine guidance involves construction equipment, such as excavators, being equipped with GPS technology programmed with the project’s design. Construction crews can then use the GPS screen installed in the vehicle to see exactly where they need to add or remove soil, eliminating the need for traditional surveying equipment.

The channel remodelling projects were a particularly sophisticated use of this technology.

When the channels were dewatered, GMW had a small plane with light detection and ranging sensors fly over parts of the channel system to create a detailed image of the channels.

The data from these surveys was then compared with historical designs to determine where silt had accumulated and where soil would need to be removed to return the channels to their original design.

GMW Strategy Services and Planning general manager Steven Abbott said this approach to the remodelling of the channels had various benefits.

“Using machine guidance provides a level of accuracy in our works that would not otherwise be possible,” he said.

“It enables us to complete the majority of the surveying work before our construction staff reach the site. This is especially useful for us, as many of our projects need to be completed during the short irrigation off-season.

“There is also less need for surveyors to be working among heavy machinery, making it beneficial from a safety perspective as well.”

GMW has previously used machine guidance when completing safety upgrades to the primary embankment at Tullaroop Dam, and for numerous smaller drainage projects.

“The use of machine guidance has now supported us in completing several projects efficiently and cost-effectively,” Mr Abbott said.

“Our field staff have been quick to embrace the use of machine guidance for different works, and our Surveying Team is looking for various ways we can innovate to get the most out of the technology, so it is certainly something we are likely to use more into the future.”