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Technology Training on Workflow Helps Address the Need for New Workers

By Jeff Winke

It is a scary world out there for you construction contractors who struggle with tight deadlines, demands for regulatory-governed quality, better productivity, lower costs, more time in a day, and that ominous need for a competent workforce.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) released a study of construction firms in the United States.A few key statistics included in their Workforce Shortage Report include:

  • Eight out of 10 construction firms cannot find sufficient qualified employees
  • 19 percent are investing in labor saving equipment and tools that require smarter workers
  • 82 percent believe that it will be more difficult to find qualified workers over the next 12 months

“As the U.S.-based construction workforce becomes increasingly thinly spread,” the AGC report stated, “owners and managers of construction firms will be required to approach the problem of labor shortage creatively, in order to convert these problems into opportunities. A key to overcoming the labor shortage, in the construction industry, is to invest in current employees to increase their skills, knowledge and abilities, as well as to support existing employees with labor-saving tools and equipment.”

Investing in existing employees has definite advantages, when compared to hiring new employees.

  • Current employees know how the company operates and manages its project sites. 
  • Current employees are a known entity. Managers know their strengths and weaknesses and may be better able to manage and lead them than new hires.
  • With new employees, there are start-up administrative costs, drug testing, equipment and safety training, and general acclimation to new managers, co-workers, and procedures. 
  • Current employees pose less risk. Studies have confirmed higher injury rates among workers who have been on the job for less than a year. Consider also that hiring new employees with less experience and then moving them quickly into the field to meet demands may create greater risk.

Clearly, on-going skills and technology training of existing employees can prove to be critical not only for retention but the success of the company.

“The penalty for not keeping current with technology is longer project timelines,” stated Ron Oberlander, Vice President, Global Professional Services, Topcon Positioning Group, Livermore, California. “Successful training focusses on the work process which yields greater efficiencies and better results.”

An Emphasis on Workflow

With the training emphasis on workflow, employees can develop a broader perspective on construction projects and all that goes into the tasks that culminate in their completion. The emphasis on work processes demonstrates a respect for the intelligence of employees and invites them to think in a partner role, which can strengthen their commitment to the job and the company.

“I’ve completed a couple of training programs conducted by Topcon and I am scheduled for another in the next six months,” said John Poirier, Project Manager with Warman Excavating & Trenching Ltd., Waldheim, Saskatchewan, Canada. “It is well worth the time; and the cost is inconsequential compared to what I learn. Unbelievable trainers, seasoned experts with 20 to 30 years of experience, are training me. They know the products, the market, and understand the workflow.”

“Technology changes too frequently,” said Oberlander.”When we host attendees – distributors and end users – at our training sessions we focus on workflows and how the key features of our products and systems improve the productivity and efficiency of end users.”

With the strong job economy today, it is sometimes difficult to find talent to fill open positions.A benefit of training and the power of easy-to-use technology means that contractors can hire less-skilled talent.They can either send them to instructor-led courses or put them through e-learning-based training.Either way, the knowledge and skills gap can be bridged.

Technology Evolution

Since every construction project is unique, and may require different technology and solutions, it is important – actually imperative – that workers at all experience levels engage in training regularly to remain up to date.

“Think about the advances in consumer technology such as the Apple iPhone,” Oberlander said, “The innovations and high-powered processors that upgrade the iPhone annually are being used in construction equipment. Look at the displays and systems inside of a new excavator, dozer, or other heavy equipment which now make them more productive to run and service; and in turn, makes the contractor more efficient and profitable.”

Oberlander went on to describe how GPS machine control has evolved during the past 20 years from little adoption of machine automation to a market where some machine manufacturers are integrating machine control technology direct from the technology-provider’s factory floor into their machines or even wiring heavy equipment so that they are capable of later adding aftermarket systems.Some government agencies are even specifying that contractors working on their projects must employ GPS machine control on their equipment.

An Investment in Training

Topcon Positioning Systems’ current project is an example of the interest and commitment to training occurring in the construction industry. The company is investing by building state-of-the-art training facilities in the United States, Italy, and Japan. 

The new 6-acre training facility in the U.S. is being constructed at the Topcon campus in Livermore, California, and will cover training for construction, geo positioning, and paving. Vertical construction and layout training will include a half-built building for real-world demonstrations. Two state-of-the-art classrooms will be included. The training facilities in Italy and Japan are being built to the same parameters.

“Since we focus heavily on workflow training, our training will mimic live applications that take place at a typical construction site,” Oberlander said. “The main difference is we can focus on the application and training without distractions of a contractor’s live jobsite. We always offer on-location training at the contractor’s jobsite or home office, but we believe that it is important to establish a baseline of education with a contained workflow at our training center.We also offer the students a tour of our manufacturing facility so they can see how the products they use are made.”

Construction contractors struggle with the need to keep up to date on the latest technology and trends that make their projects more efficient, while attracting and keeping a full workforce in a tight labor market. The answers may be found in training both existing employees and new inexperienced workers on labor-saving technologies with a focus on the work process which yields greater efficiencies and better results.

What do you tell others considering training? Poirier said: “Go for it. There is 100 percent benefit to training; otherwise you’re looking at your technology being the world’s most expensive paperweight. Training gave me knowledge and confidence to feel comfortable with the technology. I recently set up a new excavator using a system I had mounted on a different machine. It works great and would have cost me $42,000 to have someone come in and set up and initialize the GPS system on the excavator – all work I did myself.”

Clearly training can benefit contractors. It can add knowledge, skills, and the confidence to succeed.

Technology Training On Workflow

Capturing the Past – Historic Livermore Winery Building Lives on in a 3-D Point Cloud

 

DEWALT announces the new FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* Dust Extractor (DCV585)

DEWALT  FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* DUST EXTRACTOR

DEWALT announces the new FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* Dust Extractor (DCV585), adding to its system of more than 120 Table 1 Compliant** Solutions of drilling, cutting, and grinding tools, dust extractors, accessories, and shrouds intended to limit workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The 60V MAX* Dust Extractor runs off of DEWALT FLEXVOLT Batteries and is an efficient and portable way to be OSHA Table 1 compliant** on the job site. For concrete drilling and grinding/cutting up to 5-inch wheels, the 60V MAX* Dust Extractor achieves 125 CFM. Featuring Wireless Tool Control that gives the user the option to activate the extractor from a few feet away using the included remote. Additionally, the 60V MAX* Dust Extractor offers an automatic filter cleaning mechanism.

The 60V MAX* Dust Extractor is part of the DEWALT PERFORM & PROTECT™ line of tools designed to provide a high level of one or more of the following: control, dust containment or low vibration, without sacrificing performance. For a list of the DEWALT PERFORM & PROTECT™ drilling and grinding solutions that adhere to the new OSHA ruling on protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust, go to DEWALT.com.

Available where DEWALT products are sold in November 2018, the 60V MAX* Dust Extractor will come kitted with two HEPA Filters and two Batteries for $549 MSRP (DCV585T2). It will also come bare for $349 MSRP (DCV585B). The 60V MAX* Dust Extractor will come standard with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract and 90-day money-back guarantee.

With respect to 60V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 60 volts. Nominal voltage is 54.

**Compliant to the Exposure Control Methods described in Table 1 of 29 CFR 1926.1153 when outlined components are operated and maintained in accordance to manufacturer’s instructions, assuming that airflow is measured in accordance with the motor/fan system test. OSHA is reviewing the exact requirements for dust extraction in these applications.

FEATURES

  • 125 CFM provides OSHA Table 1 Compliant Solutions for up to 5″ Tuckpointing and Surfacing Applications when paired with an appropriate dust shroud
  • Automatic Filter Cleaning, with Dual Filters
  • HEPA Filter Included with Unit
  • Wireless Tool Control™ Allows for wireless ON/OFF capability when paired with the included Remote or a Wireless Tool Control™ Enabled Tool
  • T-Stak Compatibility Allows Unit to be Stacked and Combined with other DEWALT® T-Stak Storage Systems
  • 8 Foot Long Anti Static Hose with DEWALT® AIRLOCK™ system.
  • Built-in hose wrap offers convenient hose storage when not in use
  • Meets the EPA Lead Related Renovations, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule for HEPA vacuums when used with the included HEPA filter.
  • Can be used with Wet or Dry applications

SPECIFICATIONS

  • HOSE LENGTH          8.0 F
  • MAX CFM                          125.0 CFM
  • SYSTEM                        60V MAX*
  • TANK SIZE                   2.0 GAL
  • TOOL HEIGHT           13.0 IN
  • TOOL LENGTH           21.5 IN
  • TOOL WEIGHT         17.6 LBS

INCLUDES

  • DCV585 60V MAX Dust Extractor
  • Wireless Tool Control™ Remote
  • (1) Fleece Bag
  • (2) HEPA Filters

For more information visit FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* Dust Extractor

 

On The Right Track