skip to content

October 2012

Bobcat launches integrated automatic grade controls with sonic tracer/slope sensor kit

The new Bobcat sonic tracer/slope sensor kit is the compact industry’s first integrated automatic grade control solution, providing M-Series loader operators many of the same capabilities as large road grading equipment for rough and finish grading. Partnered with the deluxe instrumentation panel, the grade control system is engineered to follow the contour of nearly any terrain, and eliminates the need for a control panel on the grader attachment.

The sonic tracer/slope sensor kit offers contractors an alternative method of automatic grade control on jobsites not suited to lasers. Where usage of a laser requires a flat plane on the jobsite, using a sonic/slope setup allows for going up and down hills while still achieving the correct slope. Operators will increase productivity and precision on jobsites that feature hilly terrain such as certain types of road construction and site development that can include golf cart paths and biking and nature trails.

The greatest operator efficiencies to be gained with Bobcat’s sonic tracer/slope sensor kit include projects graded with a string line, matching an existing surface or a previous pass, and following existing curb and gutter. “Often, a large road grader will use a sonic/slope system to do the final pass before concrete is poured, and the concrete machines will use the same string line when pouring,” said Justin Odegaard, Bobcat attachment product specialist.

Much like a laser grading system, the sonic tracer/slope sensor kit provides contractors more accurate results with manual and automatic solutions by using four sensors mounted on the grader attachment. The mainfall and rotation sensors help correct grading up and down inclines, and ensure accuracy when the blade is angled versus straight.

The sonic tracer is suspended off either side of the grader blade to maintain a precise distance between it and a pre-determined reference point at all times. The slope sensor adjusts the opposite side of the grader to retain a consistent slope. The Bobcat sonic tracer/slope sensor kit allows operators to produce a consistent grade, with no high or low spots, and keep the base within +/- 0.2 inches or 0.1 percent grade. The combination of these four sensors offers a variety of operational modes including full automatic, partial automatic and full manual override. Operators also have the ability to turn off the sonic tracer and still have automatic cross-slope capabilities.

Unlike other existing sonic and sensor technologies contained in a separate control box typically located on the grader attachment, Bobcat’s sonic tracer/slope sensor kit controls are built into the deluxe instrumentation panel on M-Series loaders. This integration allows operators to make adjustments without ever leaving the cab.

The deluxe instrumentation panel displays real-time information on actual versus target slope. To increase ease-of-use and efficiency, all settings for the sonic tracer distance and slope are completed on the panel, including the ability to:

  • Offset (move up or down) the sonic tracer distance.
  • Perform a reverse grade (one button allows the transition from positive to negative slope percentages, and vice versa).
  • Turn the sonic tracer off and still have the slope sensor run automatically, allowing the operator to control one side of the blade and have the other side move to maintain the desired slope.
  • Operators that have optional Selectable Joystick Controls also have additional advantages as the sonic offset and grade changes can be made without taking their hands off the controls.