A world first in Derbyshire: delivery of Liebherr’s first hydraulic excavator with a factory-fitted Leica machine control system

The first Liebherr excavator in the world with a factory-fitted Leica machine control system has gone into service with a UK civil engineering contractor.

An R 934 G8 crawler, the first to leave the factory in France since Liebherr and Leica Geosystems joined forces last year, has been added to the fleet at Derbyshire business Brad-Pave. It is equipped with the Leica 3D passive system soon to be updated to include automatic inclination/rotation function.

The company, which employs just four people and specialises in road construction, deep drainage and earthmoving, was in the market to replace another manufacturer’s 30-tonne excavator and a visit to the Liebherr stand at the Bauma show in Munich in 2019 was enough to convince director Paul Bradshaw that he’d found the ideal machine. “When I saw the new Generation 8 excavators, they just looked the part. It was immediately apparent that an already quality product had been massively improved. My mind was made up straight away.”

While awaiting delivery, Mr Bradshaw began fine-tuning additional specification with GPS and Steelwrist to match the outgoing machine. However, he quickly modified his plans when the partnership with Leica was announced and negotiations with Liebherr Great-Britain ensured the order could be amended to include the Leica option.

With an operating weight of almost 38.5 tonnes, the machine arrived in the UK towards the end of 2020 when Steelwrist fitted what would be another world ‘first’, an X32 tiltrotator on 80mm pins, to take the total package to just over 40 tonnes.

“We’ve used GPS guidance for a number of years and having the opportunity to have an integrated system on a Liebherr excavator was an ideal scenario for us,” continued Mr Bradshaw. “We are hoping that one of the benefits of taking this option will be the increased reliability of a built-in system. We realised the benefits of using GPS many years ago. Not only does it do away with the requirement for traditional setting-out but it is almost 100% fool-proof. The addition of the Leica Co-Pilot system controlling the Steelwrist will just make any project that little bit quicker and more accurate.”

A Liebherr spokesperson added: “The partnership between Liebherr and Leica Geosystems announced in March 2020 enables us to offer our customers the expertise of both companies, allowing us to deliver more advanced and reliable solutions. Factory fitting has the advantage of ensuring high system reliability, thanks to the expertise of the team responsible for the installation.”