AEM Applauds House Vote to Reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement in support of the bipartisan passage of H.R. 4863, which reauthorizes the U.S. Export-Import Bank: 

Dennis Slater, AEM President


“Exports are imperative to equipment manufacturers and to a robust U.S. economy,” said Dennis Slater, President of AEM. “With about 30 percent of equipment made in the U.S. destined for export, it’s important to our industry to help facilitate trade and ensure a level playing field in the global marketplace. The Ex-Im Bank helps do that by securing credit and export assistance for equipment manufacturers so that they can export more of their products globally. We now urge the U.S. Senate keep the momentum going by swiftly voting in favor of the Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization. By doing so, they will help keep our industry vibrant and the support our industry’s 1.3 million men and women.”  
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 235-184 in favor of the bill. The Export-Import Bank is especially important to small and medium-sized businesses, which account for nearly 90 percent of the Bank’s transactions. The bill also renames the bank to the “Export Finance Agency.”  

AEM is the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry supports 1.3 million jobs in the U.S. Equipment manufacturers also contribute $159 billion to the U.S. economy. AEM is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2019.
Visit www.aem.org/advocacy for more information.   

The Case for Training

Achieving improved productivity and worker accountability 

By Jeff Winke

Building landfills have become more complex and technologically sophisticated. Gone are the days when a smart owner could manage a site by pushing dirt over collected refuse. Back then, measurements were close approximations and quality was achieved through the skills and experience of the heavy-equipment operator.

Today, contractors and project owners expect more. Speed, exacting accuracy, productivity, and quality long-life results are the expectation. Construction machines are more technologically advanced and sophisticated software creates project plans, manages the work, and documents the results. 

“Amidst the expensive, often difficult to learn, advanced technology is a simple, effective tool for building and maintaining landfills,” said John Miller, owner of JCM Excavating, Allendale, Michigan, and inventor of the JohnnyBall® 3D level and slope measuring system. “The JohnnyBall is mounted inside the operator’s compartment and is designed to allow operators to quickly check if their machine is at true level to then ascertain slope and grade. The mechanical device requires no electronics, batteries, or satellites. It uses a compass-like design where the inner ball has industry-standard level and slope indications printed on it and the outer ball carries a stationary dot to indicate the true attitude of the machine, providing a 3D level and slope perspective at a glance.”

Miller believes the JohnnyBall provides the accountability that can help both the experienced operator perform better and the new machine operator get over the initial “new-kid learning hump” to gain comfortable proficiency and high production. 

“Training is crucial for our success as a landfill, since many of our employees come from varying types of backgrounds,” stated Jason Turville, operations supervisor at Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill, South Jordan, Utah. “Our construction process is very specific and so most of our new-hires have to be taught from scratch.” 

Most Trans-Jordan machine operators are hired from outside the industry and have had no landfill experience. Generally, the new employee is mature, between 30- to 50-years old and will have real-world equipment experience from various construction-type companies. Experience can vary from well-seasoned to some with experience on only one machine type. 

            Training is a constant at Trans-Jordan, since there are many aspects to learn about processing municipal solid waste (MSW). Because some challenges do not happen that often, the company management uses the atypical as a chance to show the less experienced how to handle it. 

            For basic training, Trans-Jordan uses some instructional materials produced by the equipment manufacturers, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), as well as the Utah Safety Counsel. They conduct classroom training and a lot of hands-on training. Each division of job type has a trainer associated with that skill, which are typically the supervisors who themselves are experienced experts in all aspects of the landfill. 

            When asked why training is important, Turville responded: “Training is needed to ensure all our employees are on the same page and doing things consistently the same way. Processing 1,500 tons a day of MSW takes teamwork and coordination. In order to keep it safe and productive, training is the key ingredient. Training is also needed to ensure that new employees are doing the job as we expect of them rather than some other way they did somewhere else. For example, we compact the trash in a very specific way in order to get the best possible compaction. This process has taken much refinement through the years and is crucial to our success.”

            Key to Trans-Jordan’s technical skills field training is the JohnnyBall 3D level and slope measuring system. Why is JohnnyBall so important?

            “We purchased our first JohnnyBall merely to help aid the operators achieve true machine level, but then we quickly realized how it can help new operators who don’t quite understand or know what different slope angles look and feel like,” Turville said. “On a daily basis, we expect our working face to be a 4:1, with side slopes of 3:1. The JohnnyBall has been instrumental in teaching this technical requirement that we expect of all our operators. A 4:1 working face is ideal for the best compaction, based on how we run our operation and the JohnnyBall holds them accountable by showing consistent, accurate feedback.”

            Turville cited one employee who especially benefited from JohnnyBall training: “We had one guy who was maintaining the tipping face of the active landfill too steep and it was making the job really hard on him. Once we got him comfortable with the JohnnyBall and he realized the correct slope, he was able to use it to learn the correct steepness for the best compaction. He was clearly happier, and more productive using JohnnyBall in his daily production!”

            Before Trans-Jordan had begun using JohnnyBall for training and its daily heavy production, employee field training was “painful,” according to Turville. It was not only very time consuming, but required a second individual watching the employee while they were learning, to give constant feedback on the operator’s performance.

            “We expect our operators to be comfortable and proficient with all of our equipment,” Turville said. “With a new operator, we start them with running the compactor because that is a core machine to our business. Compactors are ‘the money maker,’ and must be the piece of heavy equipment that can be operated by everyone.” 

            After compactor training, Trans-Jordan will slowly integrate the newbies into the other machines, which are also equipped with JohnnyBall 3D level and slope measuring systems. Their philosophy is that everyone should have good skills on all equipment, so they can be rotated through that equipment, keeping them interested and fresh, plus ensuring that they always have skilled operators available to get any job done correctly.

            In the end, the question becomes does proper training result in improved company productivity and the other question, how does training affect the worker who is trained? “For our operation, the best MSW compaction is achieved with 4:1 working face and a 3:1 side slope, using our two Cat 836K Landfill Compactors working together,” stated Turville. “We achieve maximum productivity by using our prescribed working order and method ensures that we do get the best compaction. And the JohnnyBall provides the accountability.

Johnny Ball

JohnnyBall® is a 3D level and slope measuring system that is designed to do just that. The device is designed to offer a distinct advantage over non-3D slope meters, which require more than one meter to cover all slope variations and grades.

“When your machine is level, your work is more accurate and efficient,” said John Miller, owner of JCM Excavating, Allendale, Michigan, a 30-plus-years experienced heavy-equipment operator and inventor of the JohnnyBall system. “There is a true sense of what the machine is doing. This direct relationship between operator and machine is what I created the JohnnyBall to provide at a glance.”

The JohnnyBall is mounted inside the operator’s compartment and is designed to allow operators to quickly check whether their machine is level. The mechanical device requires no electronics, batteries, or satellites. It uses a compass-like design where the inner ball has industry-standard level and slope indications printed on it and the outer ball carries a stationary dot to indicate the true attitude of the machine, providing a 3D level and slope perspective at a glance.

“I can’t believe how accurate JohnnyBall is and that I don’t need to continually jump out of the cab to pound stakes,” said independent machine operator Chuck Cornell who is based in Lowell, Mich. “I recently used it on a Cat D6N-LGP crawler dozer on the build of retention ponds in a new subdivision and it saved me time and was spot-on accurate!”

Even for those using GPS machine control, Miller believes the JohnnyBall can provide a compelling, low-cost complement—especially when working near tree lines or buildings that can interfere with satellite signal reception. He also said, “if you think about it, heavy-equipment production is not always GPS connected, so there likely are times when having slope and level confirmation can come in handy.”

Miller believes the JohnnyBall can help both the experienced operator perform better and the new machine operator get over the initial “new-kid learning hump” to gain comfortable proficiency.

According to the manufacturer, a benefit of JohnnyBall is its portability. It features a base cup which is mounted in the machine cab. Thus, operators can take JohnnyBall from one job site to the next, or from machine to machine. It is designed to work in dozers, graders, excavators, skid steer loaders, and other heavy equipment— any brand, model, or size machine. 

“Because JohnnyBall can handle extreme conditions, and doesn’t rely on GPS or electricity, it’s never down,” said Miller. “To ensure the highest quality, we went through three phases of prototyping and rigorous lab testing for durability and testing temperature extremes. In 2014, extensive field-testing was conducted at multiple job sites with machine operators from Team Elmer’s, Traverse City, Mich., a successful 60-year-old excavating firm. We want to use and sell only the best product possible.

“The results were clear: JohnnyBall saved time, reduced the need for manpower, and increased efficiency. On multiple job sites, including highway ditch and slope work, Team Elmer’s operators reported saving up to 2-5 hours a day, eliminated grade rod staff on the projects, and needed to set fewer stakes.”

JohnnyBall is manufactured and assembled in the U.S. and is available through U.S. and international distributors. Made and assembled in the U.S., the system comes in a protective transport case with two base cups. Additional cups are available for purchase.

Making The Grade: Tracking On-Grade Bores

By Karly Rupp

Two 300-foot bores, 17 feet down, through 44,000 psi of basalt. All at a .75 percent grade. It’s just another day’s work for Logan Kallwick and his crews.

“That job was a tough one,” said Kallwick, field supervisor for Downing Diversified in Kalama, Washington. “But those are the kind of jobs we’re known for. We have a reputation in the Portland area for going after grade bores and doing them right.”

Using a Ditch Witch® JT40, Kallwick’s team installed 600 feet of 14-inch HDP pipe in the tough basalt terrain of St. Helen’s, Oregon. They maintained less than two feet of fall in each of the two 300-foot bores. That kind of precision drilling doesn’t just happen—it’s earned.

“You have to be thorough,” Kallwick said. “It’s not a typical bore where you’re just shooting from point A to point B. You’ll usually see guys go six, eight, 10 feet at a time between checks and locates. But when we were piloting that bore, I was checking every two to three inches to make sure we were sitting on grade and making corrections every bit of the way.”

Of course, that kind of intensity takes time. That’s why grade bores typically take longer than usual. The key, Kallwick says, is to make sure that extra time is spent moving forward, not idle. 

For example, the company uses walkover tracking rather than relying on both a front and a back locate, which could translate into two or three time-consuming locates per check. In walkover mode, the Subsite® Electronics TK RECON™ system they use provides immediate locates directly over the head, instantly feeding that information to a Subsite display on the drill. Rather than waiting for a locator to take readings 30 feet in front of the head or 20 feet behind it to get direction and depth data, the drill operator gets accurate information quickly, right at the drill seat, so he can make adjustments and keep making forward progress.

“We’ve tried other systems, but Subsite is the locator we rely on,” said Kallwick. “We’re doing these bores where we’ve got to have three quarters of an inch precision with just .75 percent deviation … and we’re 17 feet deep in some of the hardest material you can find … and we’re still able to track the head quickly and accurately and complete these jobs successfully. I have immediate information at my fingertips so I can sit on the drill and interpret depths and percentages constantly as we’re moving. I can continue to progress forward instead of waiting around for that information to relay and then having to take my time to move forward. Without it, you could take three or four times longer to do something like this.”

Kallwick also pointed out a time-saving benefit when it comes to vibration.

“We started shooting one of these grade bores—a 1.2 percent—using a different locating system. But with all the vibration, our pitches were jumping from a plus seven percent down to a minus four percent. We would have to stop to get a reading in the middle. But the TK RECON system seems to buffer the percentages and give us a consistent reading as we move along. It’ll go up and down a little bit, but that’s what the head is actually doing so we’ll make adjustments. It saves a ton of time.”

Combined with maximum productivity from a fleet of Ditch Witch directional drills and the skillful expertise that comes from decades of experience, the company’s reliance on accurate walkover locating and seamless data transmission to a display on the drill has enabled them to trim time off difficult grade bores. The St. Helen’s job, for example, went quicker than you might think. Chipping away at the volcanic rock was so difficult, the pit itself took the general contractor more than two weeks to dig. Even so, the entire job was completed in just 21 days. 

From storm systems and gravity sewer lines to a 1,100-foot shot with a six-inch pipe for jet fuel at the Portland International Airport, Downing Diversified has tackled all kinds of tough grade bores. Each job has its unique challenges, but Kallwick has the same advice for any grade bores.

“We’ve made a name for ourselves doing one percent and sub one percent grade bores. That’s only one inch of vertical play up and down every 10 linear feet that we move forward. It’s a very tight tolerance. So, you must have the patience to check and double-check and be very precise. If you have that, then it comes down to using the right equipment and making sure it is calibrated and operating properly. For locating, that means using something accurate and reliable enough for direct walkover locates in deep, difficult conditions. It’s vital that your locator is walking and standing right over that head, so you know exactly where it is at that time.”

As municipalities, general contractors and others continue to recognize the benefits of directional drilling for grade projects, more of these opportunities are becoming available. When bidding and planning for these jobs, it’s important to know that boring on grade at tight tolerances and for long distances is not only possible with walkover locating, it’s preferred. You’ll be more productive and more successful which, ultimately, is good for the industry as a whole.

About Downing Diversified

The Downing Diversified team has over 30 years’ experience in the HDD industry. Jimmy Downing began gaining his extensive knowledge and love of drilling in 1989 when his father purchased the first model drill manufactured by Ditch Witch (one of the first mini rigs to come to the Pacific Northwest). In 2012, he founded his own company, Downing Diversified. The company’s specialized equipment and turn-key capabilities have made them a leader in residential, municipal, industrial or commercial installations. For more information, visit downingdiversified.com.

About Subsite® Electronics

Subsite® Electronics, a Charles Machine Works Company, is committed to providing underground construction professionals the most comprehensive suite of electronic products in the industry, including utility locators, Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) guidance equipment, utility inspection systems, and equipment machine controls. By using innovative technologies, extensive market feedback and outstanding customer support, Subsite has established itself as the premier source of electronic technology to support the installation, maintenance and inspection of underground pipe and cable. For more information, visit subsite.com.

Kenworth W990 Begins Transport of U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree After Harvesting Ceremony in New Mexico — Ho Ho HO

The 55th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree – a 60-foot Blue Spruce from New Mexico’s Carson National Forest – has started its way to Washington, D.C., following its Nov. 6 harvesting near Red River, New Mexico.

The Carson National Forest Service nominated 12 trees as candidates for the special honor, with representatives from the Architect of the Capitol selecting the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The special Blue Spruce, which will be displayed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., is the perfect representation of the Carson National Forest, according to Ricardo Martinez, Carson National Forest deputy district ranger.

“The tree selected is beautiful and perfectly symmetrical – it’s what you look for in a Christmas tree,” said Martinez. “The Carson National Forest is a special place, and the Blue Spruce that will be on display during the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour en route to Washington D.C., will help put New Mexico and its forests in the national spotlight. We’re proud to send this beautiful tree to the Capitol.” 

On hand and ready for the load was a Kenworth W990, along with members from Artesia, New Mexico-based Wilbanks Trucking Services, this year’s designated hauler of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The company’s representatives at the tree harvesting ceremony featured Shane Phipps, safety director; and Josh Rice, terminal facility and crane manager at Wilbanks Trucking Service location in Hobbs, New Mexico, along with several other employees. The company specializes in heavy haul and crane services, and provided the cranes and crane operators for the tree harvesting.

The Kenworth W990 transporting the tree features a distinctive graphics package that showcases the New Mexico state flag, along with Ship Rock, a 7,177 foot-high mountain rock that resembles a 19th century clipper ship. On the door and sleeper, the U.S. Capitol Building is shown with a Christmas tree, with the wording: “From the Land of Enchantment to Enchanting the Nation” written above the graphics.

Once the tree was lifted and set on the 82-foot trailer, Rice, who supervised the crane operation, drove the Kenworth W990 to Red River just a mile away from the harvest site. Rice is one of three Wilbanks Trucking Services employees who will drive the W990 and deliver the tree to Washington D.C. 

“It’s hard to put into words what it means to me to be a part of such a special delivery,” said Rice. “I look forward to participating in the tree tour and sharing the experience with the other drivers who help transport the tree.”

Once in Red River, the tree was fitted with a special 40-gallon water bladder to keep it hydrated during the transport. Final preparations were then made for the cross-country haul. 

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Phipps. “We’re proud to be responsible for transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and participate in community events along the path to the Capitol. We look forward to seeing the tree standing tall at the lighting ceremony.”

Featuring a 76-inch mid-rood sleeper, the W990 was spec’d with the PACCAR Powertrain – a PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque, 12-speed automated transmission, and 40K tandem rear axle. The truck was also specified with the Limited Edition interior, premium GT703 seats and audio system, Kenworth Nav+HD, predictive cruise control, 1800W inverter, 180-degree swivel passenger seat, and Kenworth TruckTech+®  remote diagnostics. 

The tour officially commenced on Nov. 11 when the tree departed Red River to begin its journey 2,000 miles to the east. Along the way, the tree will stop at 30 community events. The tour’s first stop was at Alta Vista Elementary and Intermediate School in Questa, New Mexico, where the tree was the main event for a parade.

The tour will end Nov. 24 at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, before being delivered to the U.S. Capitol in late November. In early December, a special tree lighting ceremony will be hosted by the Architect of the Capitol, in conjunction with the U.S. Speaker of the House. 

For more information, including a complete tour schedule, visit the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree web site – www.capitolchristmastree.com. Choose Outdoors, a non-profit organization that works with the Forest Service on promoting outdoor recreation and public access to federal lands for recreation, assists with coordinating the annual tour.

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