Topcon Z-Stack

  • 2019

  • Product
    Commercial and Industrial

Commissioned By:

Topcon Positioning Group

Designed In:


The Topcon Z-Stack is a modular machine control system that combines up to three positioning technologies for the automation of excavators, bull-dozers, graders, pavers and other construction machinery. The Z-Stack provides precise 3D positioning data to the onboard hydraulic controller which enables automatic machine operation of the blade or bucket.

  • MORE
  • Construction machines are commonly fitted with sensors to perform tasks more efficiently than through manual operation. GPS sensors provide position and blade/bucket height to within 20mm. When jobsites have poor sky visibility or tighter tolerances are needed, optical prism (LPS) sensors are used. Existing sensors are tedious to configure and prevent the rapid addition or substitution of different sensor types, leading to downtime and losses in productivity. The challenge was to create a versatile yet rugged product that allowed the contractor to quickly and easily configure any machine to achieve the level of accuracy that the job demands.

  • The Topcon Z-Stack is an industry-first innovation. The product combines GPS, LPS and Topcon’s patented Millimetre (MM) technology into the one self-configurable unit. No matter the machine type or job site, the sensors can be installed, moved and shared between different machines with no calibration or additional setup needed. The sensor modules easily interlock onto the Z-Stack’s vibration mount without the use of tools, while the integrated CAN bus and power connection removes the need for cables between sensors. The Z-Stack’s versatility provides better accuracy, improves site management, productivity and equipment needs and reduces cost and time to the contractor.

  • Machine control is often accompanied with a hefty price tag that is prohibitive to many contractors. The Z-Stack however provides a more affordable entry point and upgrade path for contractors with sensors able to be purchased as the needs of the business change. This allows more contractors to experience the benefits of machine control such as increased productivity, profitably and jobsite safety. The operator can accurately add or remove material with high precision, reducing error and the need for rework whilst minimising the impact to the environment through reduced machine time and fuel usage.

  • The Z-Stack embodies Topcon’s core attributes of precision, accessibility and reliability. The cylindrical form is styled to appear intelligent yet approachable and is appropriate to different machine types and models. Simplifying the setup process was key to making the technology more accessible to operators of diverse backgrounds. Upon locking a sensor to the stack, Topcon’s proprietary one-wire technology instantly recognises and notifies the system which sensor is installed giving plug and play functionality. The system also provides the option to connect to machine power or run wirelessly, made possible by the onboard batteries and Bluetooth functionality. The individual sensors can be charged together or separately by using the dedicated desktop Docking Station. The Z-Stack is compatible with all existing Topcon equipment including the Z-Robot total station. This device projects Topcon’s Z-Beam technology across the jobsite, to be received by the MM sensor resulting in millimetre height accuracy. The enclosures have been engineered and rigorously tested to withstand the extreme vibration and shock experienced on construction machinery. The Z-Stack is rated IP67 for ingress protection and operable at temperatures from -40°C to 70°C, allowing it to be used in all weather conditions worldwide, giving contractors reliable accuracy all year-round.