Summit Excavation’s Improved Earthmoving Calculations with Propeller and DirtMate

Based in Greybull, Wyoming, Summit Excavation & Grading provides services in heavy construction, earth excavation, site clearing and prep, and commercial projects throughout the western United States. Thomas Loewen, one of Summit’s owners, has broad experience working in excavation and currently acts as the director of finance and technology. Recently his company adopted both DirtMate and the Propeller Platform to enhance their business, which currently operates worksites in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Summit before Propeller

Summit began as a small company with only five employees in 2019 working on drainage and ditching projects and municipal lagoon construction. Thomas explained how in the beginning, making earthwork calculations was difficult, due to their small size. “Because we were trying to do so many projects at once, we didn’t have a dedicated surveyor, which made quantifying our work and planning new work quite challenging,” Thomas shared. “We’d find out that we didn’t have a certain spot filled properly, which caused some errors in quantity calculations. We would use load counts and try to estimate, but sometimes even that wasn’t very accurate. At the end of a job, when you thought you had moved quantity ‘x,’ you’d learn you had moved much less.”

Bringing DirtMate and the Propeller Platform Onboard

In order to improve their earthmoving calculations, Summit decided to adopt DirtMate and the Propeller Platform. DirtMate is an easy-to-install, cost-effective machine tracking system that provides earthworks pro’s with updated material volumes and productivity data every half hour so they can keep their projects on track. The combined power of Propeller’s drone surveying solution and the benefit of machine tracking data now provides Summit with survey-grade, accurate production quantities on a daily basis to better manage their worksites.

“With the machine data we get from DirtMate and the accuracy the Propeller Platform provides us through drone surveys, we’re very satisfied,” Thomas added. “Together, these solutions are an excellent way to quantify our earthmoving. We conduct drone surveys now either monthly or bi-weekly, depending upon our needs.”

DirtMate simultaneously provides Summit with greater visibility into their progress and material volumes moved at worksites that are very far apart. This allows for greater team collaboration and better decision making. Thomas shared how valuable this technology is becoming for their business.

“As the technology director, I’m a very big fan of cloud-based services,” Thomas explained. “We’re working in our office in Greybull, Wyoming and are currently managing excavation sites in Box Elder, South Dakota and Denver, Colorado. There’s no way someone could physically be managing those sites all at once and be able to provide the necessary data to the project superintendents, foremen, and administration. So, to have all of our project data tied together in one cloud platform is very valuable. I also see a lot of value in the hourly and daily quantifications from DirtMate that are readily available to us, and the machine utilization data is very useful, as well. In fact, DirtMate helped me spot a hauling inefficiency from inside my office, 300 miles away from a site. We were then able to make the necessary adjustments.”

Working with Propeller

Thomas has been very pleased working with Propeller and feels Summit has received good support from the beginning. “Propeller was great at helping us get DirtMate set up for our sites,” Thomas shared. “I find the team fun to work with because they’re open-minded and focused on helping Summit solve its business challenges. They listen to our feedback and are dedicated to developing the product that’s right for us.”

The ability to track their earthmoving progress accurately with the Propeller Platform and monitor their machines with DirtMate will help increase efficiencies for Summit moving forward. “With the valuable information at our fingertips that Propeller and DirtMate provide, we’re able to make better executive decisions, on time and track our project progress more closely,” Thomas explained. “This will help boost our revenue and expand our future operations. Propeller and Dirtmate bring a new level of quality to what we’re doing, and I would recommend Propeller hands down to any earthmoving company considering it…not just because of the product, but because of the strong support team, too.”


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