Archive for the 'National' Category

Protecting DEF from Extreme Cold and Other Conditions Can Keep Your Truck Running Smoothly

By Jeffrey Harmening, Manager – EOLCS/DEF/MOM, American Petroleum Institute

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the winter of 2019-2020 will be filled with bitterly cold weather in the eastern parts of the Rockies and east to the Appalachians. The Northeast should also experience very cold temperatures as well. For municipalities, public utilities, landscapers and others that are involved in outdoor work and snow removal, there is always plenty of annual winter preparation.

One thing that may be overlooked is the proper management of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) used in many diesel-powered trucks. Handling and storing DEF can be challenging in wintertime for drivers filling up on the road and for shops. Made from a mixture of technically pure urea and purified water, DEF freezes at 11 degrees Fahrenheit and needs to be properly maintained and dispensed to preserve its quality.

Like water, DEF will expand up to seven percent when frozen and can damage the storage tank if it is full or nearly full when it freezes. Keeping a tank that you think may freeze less than full is a good idea. If DEF freezes in the vehicle, do not put any additives in the tank to help it melt. DEF needs to remain pure for it to work correctly. The vehicle will start without a problem and the DEF tank has a heating element that can quickly thaw the DEF.  Don’t worry; on-spec DEF is specifically formulated to allow the fluid to thaw at the proper concentration to keep your vehicle operating smoothly.

In addition to cold, there are other things to consider when purchasing, storing and handling DEF. Drivers accustomed to purchasing DEF in containers should look at the expiration date on the bottle and be sure to use it before this date as the product has a limited shelf life. If a date is not present, ask for the most recently delivered DEF products.  Also, be sure to look for the API certification mark on the bottle as well. Many diesel engine manufacturers recommend that drivers use API-licensed DEF.

Storage conditions have an impact on its quality. DEF can be expected to have a minimum shelf life of 12 months or even longer in optimum conditions. Check the label for recommended storage temperatures.  API recommends that you don’t store if for too long in your truck once you purchase it, especially if the storage area in the vehicle is routinely exposed to extreme heat or sunlight.

Purchasing DEF for Shop Use

API has found that the biggest misconception by fleet managers is the belief that if the urea concentration of their DEF is on spec, then the DEF meets the required quality. While it is true that the concentration is very important, there are many other important quality characteristics built into the ISO 22241 specification regarding DEF.

Those responsible for procuring DEF should confirm that their suppliers are providing DEF that meets the entire ISO quality standard. One way to do this is to ensure that their supplier is providing a Certificate of Analysis (or Quality) with every shipment that addresses all of the quality characteristics that the specification requires. You can also check to see if the DEF they are buying is licensed through API’s real-time directory of licensees on the API website

Managing DEF in Shops

For shops, the handling, storage and dispensing of DEF is very important so that off-spec DEF doesn’t reach the marketplace. Temperature during transport or at the point of storage or sale can harm the shelf life of DEF sold in containers. Make sure the stock is rotated to use the oldest product first. Proper storage temperatures in a shop is also vital. Storing in temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit will limit the shelf life of the DEF over time. Some additional things to consider in storing and handing DEF include the following:

  • Bulk storage tanks should be dedicated for DEF. Don’t switch products in the bulk tank without thoroughly rinsing the tank with distilled or de-ionized water or on-spec DEF. 
  • A closed loop system for transferring DEF from a drum or bulk tank is recommended so contaminants don’t get into the DEF. This is particularly important in a shop or construction site that has dust or dirt in the air.
  • Use dedicated equipment for dispensing DEF. Don’t use funnels, pitchers, hoses, etc. that are used for other fluids when putting DEF in a tank. 
  • Anything used for dispensing DEF should be cleaned with distilled or de-ionized water and followed by a DEF rinse. Don’t use tap water for cleaning.

For shops and drivers, it’s important to know what you are putting into your DEF tank. The quality of the DEF going into your vehicle is as important as the quality of the engine oils or fuels used in your vehicles.  Use of API-licensed Diesel Exhaust Fluid will ensure that the DEF meets the high standards required by engine and vehicle manufacturers.

This feature appeared in the December 2019 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor,
Western Builder

5 Modern Capabilities that Optimize Field Operations

Travis Parigi, CEO of LiquidFrameworks

Field operations are behind when it comes to utilizing digital tools for the workforce. However, updated technology empowers managers to track and oversee operations at unparalleled levels in new environments. These updates can also provide an abundance of choices related to improved technologies like using smartphones, GPS, RFID, On-Demand/Cloud Computing, barcodes, scanners, and the latest generation of tablet computers. The modern capabilities of technologies can ultimately help both management and workers optimize operations while in the field. 

Nonetheless, the constant change of technology brings with it the rise of questions for operations management, such as…

  • What is the most valuable data?
  • What is the appropriate approach to utilizing technology?  
  • Which will deliver the biggest “bang” for your buck?
  • How do you integrate different solutions and data into an operations flow?
  • How do you entertain various personnel skill sets and ensure adoption by field personnel? 

It is first important to identify critical considerations when assessing new electronic solutions or field service providers to optimize field operations. 

hands of builder with small computer and gloves, selective focus on finger

1. Paperless Ops

The most apparent opportunity to update implementation is through shifting to an electronic platform for operations or adoption of solution elements. This approach is coined as going paperless. This method initially just scanned identical electronic copies of paper items such as service tickets or delivery receipts. Overtime data has advanced to capture documents to be represented and reported on devices. Both of those methods are valuable but only represent a fraction of the value that comprehensive field operation solutions provide. Elements of a complete mobile field operations solution include:

  • Fully Electronic/ Error Reduction
    • Every time a field operator produces a piece of paper documentation and sends it back to the office, at least $10 in processing costs are generated. Problems related to legibility, re-entering data into electronic systems, errors in the system and issues integrating paper with customers all contribute to added delays and costs. Modern solutions promise optimal speed and leverage through structured data representation. This allows field-generated data to be efficiently and effectively fed into back-office systems and presented to customers.
  • Configure vs. Capture/Validation/Rules
    • Solutions, such as scanners or pick lists, only capture documentation and often fail on several levels. Lack of internal logic and error prevention reproduces paper problems in an electronic format. It’s crucial for field operation solutions to properly validate data and prevent invalid configurations and data entry. AI functions, such as rules and knowledge base are invaluable. This is exemplified by solutions that either use configuration engines to take users through job set up steps or automatically configure based on job conditions or equipment.
  • Customization
    • It is also key for all platforms to flexibly capture elements of an operations flow, organization, or government/customer requirement. For example, when altering the location and appearance of screen elements to attached data entry points, the solution should be configurable to both your company and industry.
  • Data Availability
    • A solution must satisfy customer process demands, including customer signature, emails, and approvals. Data captured through the solution should then be available to your back-office systems and email.

2. Properly Modeling the Process

Possibly one of the most important factors in improving operations includes structuring electronic data into elements to ensure efficient scheduling, fulfillment, and analysis. First-generation field operations solutions made individual process elements such as field tickets or dispatch orders electronic. This approach is valuable but falls short in capturing the relationship between resources that allow for optimal planning and utilization. 

For example, the value becomes limited when the technical equipment is dispatched without the system attaching associated personnel and consumables. An ideal solution is not only aware of these associated items, but also recognizes locations, readiness level, and suitable, available replacements. Once these elements are in place, operations managers can then plan immediate operations and begin to prepare future consumable, maintenance, personnel, and other resource requirements.

3. Flexible Standardization

All platforms must pave the path for best practices to be overlaid on the solution while also remaining flexible enough for operations to continue remotely. Tools and technology that simplify workflow are essential. 


  • Data
    • Full access to data by field personnel allows operations to be executed even if the back office is unavailable. Access to the master data and configuration specifications enables single-entry without costly “fix-up” by personnel. Updated, accurate pricing also allows for improved customer coordination and minimized approval delays.
  • Rules Engine
    • Rules engines meaningfully supplement individual worker knowledge and enforce standards. This capability automatically recaptures previously lost or unbilled items, prevents unsafe configurations and allows personnel with less experience to perform complex operations. Rules engines also secure corporate knowledge as a key backup function for senior personnel.
  • Collaboration
    • Field workers and back-office personnel should work together. Whether you are enriching tickets with notes or requesting back-office involvement, collaboration capabilities of mobile field operations platforms are essential.
  • Workflow
    •  A solution must provide mechanisms to standardize workflow such as a customer approval process or uniformity of ordering equipment.
  • Integration
    • Solutions should integrate opportunities with electronic systems. An Open API makes it simple to seamlessly consolidate with existing systems.
  • Additional Documents and Forms
    • Companies often have additional documentation specific to their industry or organization, some of which include Job Safety Assessments and logs. Although electronic solutions do not come “out of the box” with the exact document, customization easily captures this information.


  • Smart Client
    • Even the best communication environments experience problems ranging from equipment failure to shielding and capacity issues. These bumps in the roadblock require communication from outside sources. These scenarios require autonomous solutions that flexibly reestablish communication and transfer data.
    • Solutions should provide technology integration points like GPS or RFID.
  • Attachments
    • Reference documentation, such as videos, procedures, and manuals, prove useful in field environments.
  • Leverage Existing Assets
    • Mobile field operations solutions should easily integrate with established IT systems, such as accounting and payroll. 

4. Effective Analysis

Effective analysis is key to optimize field operations and is part of a mobile field operations solution. The ability to measure production details and to generate custom reports is vital to company success.

  • Measuring
    • Demands of on-field personnel and floods of data lead many organizations not to capture the full extent of what happens during operations. For instance, a performed service is captured, but the detailed start/stop times, consumable usage, ancillary equipment, and personnel involved are not.
  • Report Generation
    • All solutions should have robust reporting mechanisms that feature a full security model with proper access. The capability to create custom reports is indispensable.
  • Availability and Distribution 
    • Reporting should be available to proper personnel. Web-based reporting solutions provide wide distribution capabilities for users at numerous locations on various devices. Email integration is a fundamental capability for the dissemination of reports, whether that is executed through an incoming-data based alert system or a scheduled distribution list.

5. Involve the Customer

Customer involvement is commonly overlooked when advancing operations and resource utilization. Customers are most involved at the beginning (ordering) and end (invoice approval) of the process, but true value comes in keeping them invested throughout the process.

  • Tracking
    •  Appropriate oversight capability in internal operations can effectively speed approvals and increase customer comfort and satisfaction. 
  • Approval 
    • Mechanisms that grant customers the ability to interact with the field operations solution, whether that be through notification emails or electronic approvals, can also significantly speed up the process.

Clearly there are many considerations to think through when evaluating field operations improvements. As a business leader, recognizing the impact technology will have on your field operations is your cue to initiate digital transformation as soon as possible to secure a competitive edge.

This feature appeared in the December 2019 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor,
Western Builder



Contractor Meets Challenges

Cozy country-style residential subdivision in Saskatchewan

By Jeff Winke

            Many are attracted to the yin and yang lifestyle of having a cozy country home with easy access to the excitement of a vibrant city. That sense that seemingly opposite or contrary forces can actually harmonize in a way that provides a richer life is very appealing to a good number.

            A Canadian residential subdivision seems to capture that spirit perfectly. Nestled in rolling prairie and among tranquil ponds, the Grasswood Estates development is located in Corman Park, Saskatchewan, a suburb of Saskatoon, the largest city in the province. The subdivision is located in the country literally 10 minutes away from downtown Saskatoon. 

            The 150-acre residential subdivision was created two years ago on vacant farmland with 42 of the planned 180 homes being constructed almost immediately. A scenic winding 10-kilometer (6-mile) road connects the properties and provides ingress and egress to the subdivision. Additional homes are continuing to be built from the initial surge.

            Investor Darren Hagen is the owner / developer of the $2.8 million-Canadian Grasswood Estates project. The subdivision is part of the expansion of city of Saskatoon geographically as the metro-population increases. Residents have quiet living with easy access to the diversity and activity of the city.

            For the first two years, the home owners living in the new subdivision have been driving on temporary and in some cases rutted roads that wound through the subdivision leading to their houses. 

            In June 2018, Hagen brought in Warman Excavating & Trenching Ltd. Waldheim, Sask., to build a permanent, paved road where the temporary road is located. Started in 1993, Warman Excavating offers the Saskatchewan market road building, site prep, trenching, and water/sewer services with principal concentration in the Saskatoon and Prince Albert areas. The company has 45 employees during peak season; 20 employees all year long. A recently acquired asphalt paving company makes them now a solidly medium-size contractor.

            “Initially, our biggest challenge on the project was winning the confidence and cooperation of the homeowners who had been patiently waiting for their approximately 10-kilometer (6-mile) road to be paved,” stated Jean Poirier, project manager with Warman Excavating & Trenching Ltd. “We went out of our way to assure the residents that we’ll do what we can to accommodate their needs while working hard to complete the road quickly.

            “For the first two weeks of the project we used layout stakes, which proved to be a cumbersome mistake. With the amount of resident traffic going in and out of the subdivision, we had to spend an inordinate amount of time re-staking all the ones that were run over, pulled up, or relocated because a frustrated resident wanted them out of the way.”

            Poirier also learned fairly quickly that there are 38 engineers living in the subdivision, which provided an extra challenge.

            “I’m an engineer too, so I know what a pain we can be in terms of wanting to know exactly what’s going on in a project,” said Poirier. “There was one engineer resident who would measure our progress each day using his own instruments. It took him a few days before he accepted that we know what we’re doing. I wasn’t angry or insulted since that engineer and I are alike in needing to know and the desire to make certain work is completed accurately.”

            To move away from a staked jobsite, Poirier contacted Muaz Sheriff with Brandt Tractor Ltd., Saskatoon, Sask., the local Topcon Positioning Systems dealer for help to create a stakeless jobsite. Sheriff helped Warman Excavating create a 3D Site Plan which could be used by the heavy equipment for GPS-guided machine control. The digital site model was created using Topcon Magnet Office and P3D software. Warman Excavating then had all the points and the site plan governing the progress in the field, displayed in the cabs of the GPS-governed machines.

            For the project, Warman Excavating used its Komatsu D-65EX crawler dozer and a John Deere 329 compact track loader (SSL), both equipped with Topcon 3D-MC2 machine control, acquired from Brandt Tractor. The 3D-MCsystem uses MC2 inertial measurement units (IMU) sensors, which eliminates the need for receiver posts mounted on the heavy equipment blades.

            “The MC2 system is designed to reduce downtime, increase productivity, reduce machine maintenance and lower fuel cost, thus making it a good fit for the Grasswood project” Sheriff said. “It’s intended to be a dozer system, but works well on compact equipment like a skid steer loader.”

            The project required 20,000 cubic yards of fill, 39,000 tons of sand, and 46,000 tons of chipped stone. 

            “Production flexibility was crucial considering residents were coming and going at any time during a 24-hour day,” Poirier said. “We needed to stop what we were working on with a moment’s notice and then pick up again after the homeowner had passed…  without missing a beat.”

            Sheriff was instrumental in steering them to a compact piece of equipment. A skid-steer loader, as one of the principle pieces of production equipment, made sense to accommodate the stop-and-start traffic flow as well as the road’s configuration which contained elevation changes, tight radiuses, and twists and turns through the picturesque subdivision. 

            Shortly after the Grasswood Estates project began, the owner altered the production timeline. The owner changed the completion deadline to a full month earlier than the original plan.

            “This meant our work week became 7 days,” stated Poirier. “We had to work harder and smarter; because there was no way we would miss the deadline–our reputation has been built on quality results completed on time.”

            For the Warman Excavating crew, their hard work–as some might say insane production schedule–paid off. The work was completed a full week before the deadline — essentially five weeks ahead of the original production goal. With early completion they safely avoided a $1,000 per day penalty for every day past the deadline.

            When asked if the owner is happy with the new 10-kilometer paved road that serves the residents in his new residential subdivision, Poirier said: “He’s very happy. In fact, he likes what we did so much that he’s hired us to do the same thing on his next residential subdivision project! Hopefully, the schedule will not be as intense”

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wis. He can be reached through

Construction Media Alliance Announces 2019 Editorial and Marketing Communications Award Winners

Awards recognize the best in construction industry journalism, marketing, content and social media; winners were also announced for the Tudor Van Hampton Award for Editorial Excellence and the first-ever Engelbert Baum Person of the Year award 

The Construction Media Alliance — a network of construction industry journalists, publishers and communicators — has named the winners of its 2019 Editorial and Marketing Communications Awards. The winners were chosen by a panel of industry peers based on criteria set by the group’s volunteer-led awards committee. Entries were considered from April 2018 through July 2019.    

“There’s great enthusiasm for the industry among this year’s participants, as well as an understanding of the critical role we all play in the community — from manufacturing to labor to advocacy,” says Bill Elverman, volunteer, Construction Media Alliance and owner/vice president at PKA Marketing. “We saw weighty examinations of safety, inspiring calls for workforce development — as well as strong product marketing and corporate communications. Many of the categories were closer than they’ve been in voting in the three years we’ve done the awards, and we look forward to it becoming even more competitive every year.”  

2019 Construction Media Alliance Editorial Award Winners:

  • Best Column: “Editor at Large” — Compact Equipment magazine (Keith Gribbins, editor)
  • Best Editorial Feature: “Big Wheels, Big Worries” — Engineering News-Record (Scott Van Voorhis, Thomas F. Armistead and Bruce Buckley).   

2019 Construction Media Alliance Marketing Award Winners:

  • Best Content Marketing: NCCER — #DiscoverMore; Build Your Future (BYF)
  • Best Ad: NCCER — “The Voice Ad – Restoring the Dignity of Work”

Tudor Van Hampton Award for Editorial Excellence 

Bill Wilson, current editor-in-chief at Railway Track & Structures, won the second-annual Tudor Van Hampton award for editorial excellence in recognition of his work covering transportation infrastructure in his previous role as editorial director at Roads & Bridges magazine.  

A special award aimed at honoring a single journalist’s body of work within the entry period, the Tudor Van Hampton Award for Editorial Excellence honors the memory of Tudor Van Hampton, a longtime construction industry journalist and managing editor with Engineering News-Record who passed away in February 2017. All entry fees for this award are donated to charity in Van Hampton’s name, as well as the name of the winner. 

This year, the Construction Media Alliance will donate $1,000.00 to the Indianapolis chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Engelbert Baum Industry Person of the Year Award 

New in the 2019 awards program, the Engelbert Baum Person of the Year award is named after Engelbert Baum, the longtime publisher and titan of construction media who passed away in August 2018. 

“Engelbert, a passionate advocate for the industry, marked his career by a constant drive for excellence, dedication to the construction media community and unrelenting spirit of generosity,” says Ken Singer, publisher, Baum Publications. “He epitomized the camaraderie that the Construction Media Alliance advances, and he would be honored that the Person of the Year Award will carry his name.” 

The winner of the inaugural award is Pat Monroe, the longtime public relations manager for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). Monroe retired in December of 2019 and was nominated for her commitment to the industry, her willingness to help others along the way, and her support of the construction trade media during her time at AEM. Monroe was nominated by her colleagues at AEM, and seconded by longtime construction industry editors such as Greg Sitek, Marcia Gruver Doyle and Mike Osenga. 

“Pat was also willing to help marketers along the way, always had the best interest of the industry at heart and was a vital supporter of the Construction Media Alliance and its predecessor, the Construction Writer’s Association,” says Elverman.

The Construction Media Alliance and Baum Publications will honor Monroe with donations of $500 each for a total of $1,000 to a to-be-determined industry program/charity of Monroe’s choosing. 

“And that’s what we’re really trying to do with this association and this awards program — celebrate excellence while also giving back to the construction community that gives us all so much,” concludes Elverman. 

For more information on the Construction Media Alliance, visit, the organization’s Facebook page at, or on Twitter at

Mecalac Hires Industry Veteran Peter Bigwood to Grow North and South American Business

Mecalac, a leading global designer, manufacturer and distributor of compact construction equipment for urban environments, has hired Peter Bigwood as general manager to expand the company’s reach in North and South America. Mecalac, which was founded in France in 1974, manufactures a full line of excavators, loaders, backhoe loaders, site dumpers and compaction rollers for urban jobsites.

Mecalac hires Peter Bigwood as general manager to lead growth in the North and South American markets.

In his new role, Bigwood will build brand awareness for Mecalac by growing the business, developing a strong dealer network, and expanding the Mecalac North America team. In addition to focusing on dealer development, Bigwood will also launch and grow the presence of Mecalac in the rental market.

“Mecalac is a world leader in many of the product categories we have,” said Alexandre Marchetta, Mecalac CEO. “Unfortunately, the North and South American markets are fairly unfamiliar with our brand and product benefits. Adding Peter to the Mecalac team is an aggressive move to change that reality.”

Bigwood brings more than 30 years of construction industry experience in sales and marketing to his new role. Before joining Mecalac North America in September, he served as vice president of sales and marketing for remote-controlled demolition manufacturer Brokk Inc. During his eight years with Brokk, Bigwood identified and launched new markets for the company’s demolition machines, in addition to leading the growth of the sales network in the U.S. and Canada. Before that, Bigwood served as president of Atlas Copco Construction Tools for almost 20 years.

“Mecalac focuses on solving common jobsite problems and creatively developing products to improve safety, versatility and efficiency,” Bigwood said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and opportunity of helping Mecalac grow in North and South America. I’m also excited to see the benefits these highly differentiated products can provide to our customers.”

Mecalac specializes in compact construction equipment that delivers superior performance in speed, flexibility, fuel efficiency and versatility. Most Mecalac machines are designed for multi-functionality, built to reduce the number of machines needed on the jobsite. With the right attachments, excavators become multipurpose machines — replacing the use of a skid steer or telehandler. Operators can easily transition from one task to the next by changing out an attachment — all without needing to leave the cab. On sites with tight footprints, Mecalac’s swing loader design eliminates the need to move the machine, saving time. The loader can stay in place while the bucket remains operational. Mecalac’s crawler and wheeled excavators feature a signature two-part boom with an integrated offset arm system. The Mecalac boom makes it easy to dig outside the width of the machine, yet operate within a tight radius. Equipped with forks, it allows for unloading heavy material below grade.

Learn more about Mecalac’s full line of equipment at  The company’s equipment will also be on display at upcoming tradeshows, including the ARA Show, booth 1896, Feb. 10-12,  and CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020, booth F2658, March 10-14.

About Mecalac

Mecalac is an international manufacturer of compact construction equipment for urban sites. Known for its innovative, customer-focused technology, Mecalac has sales offices, distributors and customers in more than 87 countries. Versatile and multi-purpose equipment is available through five product lines, including: excavators, loaders, backhoe loaders, site dumpers and compaction rollers. For more information: Mecalac North America, 282 Dedham, St. Norfolk, MA 02056; 1-508-921-3076; mecalac.northamerica@mecalac.comwww.mecalac.comFacebook;LinkedInInstagram and YouTube.