Tag Archive for 'Topcon Positioning Systems Inc.'

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.

Tomorrow’s Internet –Fundamentals of IoT for Construction

Ray O’Connor, President and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems represented AEM at Bloomberg Government NEXT Infrastructure conference

Our infrastructure is critical to the future of our country. Recently American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publicized its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. To review the 2017 ASCE Infrastructure, which earned a D+ you can click  here.

The infrastructure is critical to everyone without exception. We depend on it for not only transportation but also everything we eat, drink, wear; going to work, going to dinner; going to the doctor, the hospital or emergency rooms, getting our children to school to the movies or the playground. Pay attention to local, state and national infrastructure issues and the proposed legislation that attempts to address some of the more critical issues. And the next time you hit a pothole think of the damage being done to the tires, rim, suspension and undercarriage of your care.

Ray O’Connor, President and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems represented AEM at  Bloomberg Government NEXT Infrastructure conference in Washington D.C. last week. He spoke with Marcia Hale, president, Building America’s Future Educational Fund, in the Smart Infrastructure and Global Advantage segment of the conference.

Dennis Slater, President and Secretary of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), made the opening remarks.

It’s our infrastructure. Think of it this way, the better the infrastructure the safer our world.

Topcon’s Complete In-Motion Dozer Control Defines Cutting Edge

AEM Announces ‘I Make America’ Award Winners

imageThe Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) announces the 2016 recipients of its I Make America advocacy awards.

Winners are AEM member companies that have achieved the highest level of support in AEM’s signature program to build grassroots support and advocate for pro-manufacturing policies that create and sustain jobs across America.

AEM honored 32 companies during its recent annual conference for achieving Gold status, and 6 of these companies also received recognition as Legacy supporters after maintaining Gold status for five consecutive years.

I Make America activities can include significant employee involvement; outreach to state, local and federal legislators; and promoting campaign sign-ups at trade shows and with allied trade associations.

“I Make America’s success depends on the strong support of member companies and their employees to help our elected officials understand the critical importance of the off-road equipment industry and manufacturing to economic prosperity and quality of life across America,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “We appreciate their hard work and are pleased to publicly acknowledge their outstanding commitment and efforts.”

‘Legacy’ Award Salutes Continuous Service  

The 2016 I Make America Legacy award winners are:

CLAAS of America Inc.
CNH Industrial
General Kinematics
Kondex Corporation
Volvo Construction Equipment
Wolf Robotics LLC

2016 ‘Pillar of the Industry’ Award Winners

A total of 32 companies received Pillar of the Industry awards for achieving or maintaining I Make America Gold status during the year.

For more information about and to join in I Make America, visit www.imakeamerica.com.

The 2016 Pillar of the Industry Award winners are:

  • AGCO Corporation
  • Astec Mobile Screens
  • Blount International/Woods Equipment
  • Calder Brothers Corporation
  • Carlson Paving Products
  • Caterpillar Inc.
  • CLAAS of America Inc.
  • CNH Industrial
  • Custom Products of Litchfield Inc.
  • Deere & Company
  • Doosan Bobcat
  • General Kinematics
  • Gradall Industries
  • HUSCO International Inc.
  • InQuest Marketing LLC
  • JCB Inc.
  • Johnson Crushers International
  • Ken Cook Co.
  • Kobelco Construction Machinery USA
  • Kolberg Pioneer Inc.
  • Kondex Corporation
  • Mahindra USA
  • Manitou Americas Inc.
  • Morbark LLC
  • Sioux Corporation
  • Stellar Industries Inc.
  • Terex Corporation
  • Topcon Positioning Systems Inc.
  • Vermeer Corporation
  • Volvo Construction Equipment
  • Weiler
  • Wolf Robotics LLC

 

AEM is the North American-based international trade group providing innovative business development resources to advance the off-road equipment manufacturing industry in the global marketplace. AEM membership comprises more than 900 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors worldwide. AEM is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with offices in the world capitals of Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; and Beijing, China.

Visit www.aem.org for more information.