Excavation & Conservation Blog

Harnessing High-Tech on Modern Excavation Projects

Two workers handling excavation technology

From the outside, the bulldozers and excavators you see on today’s construction sites may not look that different from decades ago but the story inside is very different.

Today’s excavation technology has capabilities that GCs and excavators of the past could only dream about. Guided by GPS-enabled software that transforms a jobsite into a digitally mapped terrain, modern excavation equipment works with the precision and speed that traditional, manual approaches can’t touch. They’re also increasingly energy efficient, with fuel conserving technology that includes hybrid vehicles.

Below are a few examples of how high-tech is now essential to modern excavating – if your excavation contractor isn’t using most of the following, it may be time for you to reevaluate.

Smart Dozers

Roland Machinery

Intelligent machine control (IMC) bulldozers have built in GPS capability that reads an uploaded AutoCAD file or converted PDF to establish and align the location and elevation of the dozer blade to the desired surface grade specifications. The digitized, GPS-enabled alignment of the blade is so precise, the operator can set the system controls to automatic, if desired.

GPS-Enabled Excavators

IMC excavators work in a similar way, using precise GPS coordinates and AutoCAD or converted PDF files that align the blade to the design elevation, with an in-cab screen that shows the operator exactly where the blade is relative to the coordinates of the trench or footing being excavated.

Drone Technology

Increasingly sophisticated drone technology is useful for excavation planning, site surveys and inspection as well as 3D geospatial mapping and monitoring of conditions. Quadcopter drones track progress, estimate the amount of material to be removed and improve the accuracy of topographical maps used to align intelligent equipment.

For large sites, it’s also useful to see the full array of equipment in use and to create “as-built” drawings and records that enable a comparison of the initial design specifications and the final specifications.

Total Station Technology

High-tech surveying instruments combine the precision of satellite coordinates with engineering and architectural AutoCAD files to resolve any questions around grades and elevations. This technology allows JKC to precisely document existing conditions and rapidly implement proposed design changes.


Specialized construction software enables a great deal of the other technology, beginning with the building information modeling (BIM) and sophisticated computer-aided design (CAD) software that creates the digital files that intelligent equipment uses, and enables early-stage problem solving and accurate estimating.

Other programs provide job hazard analysis, dispatch, reporting and logistics tracking, and a wide array of productivity tools that shrink costs, time and energy consumption.

3D elevation lines plan view
3D surface elevation model
Aerial drone view
Images: (top left) converted pdf with 3D elevation lines; (top right/middle) 3D surface elevation models for smart excavation equipment; (bottom) drone topography footage with proposed surface design overlay for tracking earthwork quantities.

Merging Decades of Expertise with Technology

John Keno & Company’s investment in the success of our clients includes keeping up with advancements in equipment and software that enable a level of precision, automation, efficiency and carbon footprint reduction that could not have been imagined when our founder cashed in his life savings and bought his first construction vehicle in 1939.

Intelligent dozers and excavators and powerful project management and mapping software allow us to leverage the speed, precision and energy efficiency of the industry’s most advanced tools and equipment and we are committed to providing you with every advantage state-of-the-art technology can provide.

At the same time, we know that the time and effort we invest in our people, process, planning and safety are just as important as the tools we use. From one decade to the next, our tools may change, but our commitment to providing the highest-quality results – safely, reliably and on-time – remains the same.

Contact us to learn more about our innovative and high-quality solutions for your complex excavation and earthworks projects.

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