Tag Archive for 'Training'

How Technology is Advancing one of the Most Dangerous Jobs in America

By Stokes McIntyre, President of MindForge

Construction was recently listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America by CNBC. So when it comes to day-to-day operations, what can construction managers do to ensure workers receive the information they need to produce quality work and stay safe on the job? One company, MindForge, is doing just that. Its platform is designed to unite construction organizations, simplify workforce communication and maximize performance quality with tools that keep job sites safe, efficient, and connected. By studying behavioral, motivational and systematic issues related to serious injuries and fatalities on construction jobs, MindForge has developed a mobile-based communication platform that supports safety, quality, and productivity. Its browser-based technology platform communicates with desktop, web, and mobile devices in order to bridge the disconnect between the home office and front-line workforce, equipping workers with the knowledge, skills, and information that empower them to avoid hazards and do great work.

Engaging Training

In order to take command of construction projects and reach the next level in safety and quality, it’s critical to engage the front-line workforce. Firms must deploy engaging training that makes a lasting impact and deliver information in ways that workers will respond positively to. MindForge provides a framework, inspired by the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), that workers can apply when facing an unusual situation or uncommon issues. MindForge specifically targets relevant hazards a worker will encounter while they perform tasks on a job.

Firms should also consider the importance of timing. If you learn something that you can’t put into practice right away, it may be difficult to recall that information when you finally need to use it. MindForge places training within the context of the job site, which helps the material come alive and allows workers to see the direct application of that material. The digital platform also allows for “just-in-time” content, delivered either close to when the workers will perform related tasks or as a refresher right after a worker has experienced the task.

In order to deliver the most value to construction professionals, MindForge has created training modules that are succinct and specific. Breaking training down into smaller pieces makes it easier for workers and teams to select courses that apply to their work each day. With short, direct lessons, you give workers the opportunity to digest information quickly so that important material isn’t lost within hours of training that is delivered all at once.

Immersive Experiences

One of the best tactics to ensure your training is effective is to make it as experiential as possible. You should place workers in controlled situations they might eventually face, doing the tasks expected of them while facing potential job hazards they could see on the job. Using specific job site videos or 3-D simulations can help you create these immersive experiences without putting anyone in danger. For example, the MindForge platform offers a 3-D simulation of a scissor lift safety “hazard hunt” which tests the workers by having them identify all of the potential hazards on a job site, such as tilt, unsafe conditions and proximity to power lines, and how to mitigate those risks. Rather than using a slideshow, MindForge trains using immersive experiences, like having the workforce identify the proper fire extinguisher based on the type of simulated fire. This technique allows workers to actively engage while learning necessary techniques like P.A.S.S. (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep).

Moreover, offering a variety of training styles gives workers the opportunity to learn however they learn best. Similarly, offering the same material in different ways can make repeated instruction more interesting and help the material reach trainees in new ways each time. Our material is offered in the form of relevant stories that resonate: practical, real-life scenarios. For example, the Construction LifeSaver (CLS) is MindForge’s series of digital training, delivered via the CLS desktop or mobile application. CLS courses focus on interactive, hazard-based training that highlights the tasks, exposures, and scenarios workers encounter in their day-to-day jobs on a construction site.

Key Communication

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the MindForge platform is the establishment of a solid line of communication to the front line that allows project leaders to efficiently send timely information and training to the workforce. The comprehensive communication hub simplifies the communication process and allows for consistent messaging and expectations for everyone involved in the project. The fact is when it comes to safety and quality, everyone needs to be on the same page from top to bottom.

Further, investing in tools to help support safety initiatives shows that a business cares about its workers, enforcing a stronger safety culture within the company. This can improve your recruiting ability, as well as your bottom line.

MindForge facilitates the management of this highly fluid workforce, and is designed to integrate the entire organization from the home office to the front line by capturing and storing records for orientation, training, certifications, equipment inspections, toolbox talks and more, indefinitely. One function of the platform allows you to quickly deploy important announcements, messages and alerts to the entire workforce with the push of a button while another function manages employee profiles and teams. Quality, speed, and safety all increase when workers get to do the things they are confident in doing. Having a system to track workers’ skills and preferred tasks goes a long way in making sure everyone is operating at their highest level. It can be difficult to engage construction workers due to localized environments with constant deadlines. Content that is engaging, relevant and enjoyable helps make construction projects more efficient, profitable and ultimately safe.

MindForge offers a new and safer way to work. The holistic communication and training hub helps protect a company’s bottom line through various efficiencies and improvements across quality, culture and time and ultimately, saves lives. As we look ahead, we recognize the potential of technology to significantly decrease the rate of serious injuries and fatalities within the industry while making construction projects more efficient and profitable, benefiting the industry as a whole.

This material appeared in the June 2020 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

ALLU ANNOUNCES TRAINING PARTNERSHIP WITH IUOE

IUOE

ALLU and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) — a trade union that represents heavy equipment operators, mechanics, surveyors and stationary engineers in the United States and Canada — announce a new cooperation and partnership in pipeline training. Through this partnership, IUOE has begun using an ALLU Transformer screening bucket for its pipeline application training program. The first training was held in Texas, beginning on June 17, 2020. IUOE will be using the ALLU Transformer unit, donated by ALLU Group Inc., for all future pipeline training sessions.

The IUOE and the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA), in joint cooperation, hold more than 170 training classes, working with more than 700 students each year, in programs that train operators from beginner through advanced levels. Sessions range from one to three weeks, and traditionally incorporate six days of 10 hours daily with classroom and field training in pipeline construction. Because the ALLU Transformer is recognized as an effective tool for pipeline padding and backfilling applications, IUOE/PLCA National Pipeline Training Director Bryan D. Abel and ALLU Group Inc. President Edgar J. Chavez began discussing its potential as a tool for the IUOE pipeline training program. The ALLU Transformer allows material to be screened onsite and then backfilled directly into a trench, thus eliminating the need for dedicated stationary screening or the purchase of fine soil.

“We had spoken previously, but we developed the partnership more fully during CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 in Las Vegas,” says Abel. “We sat down at the show, and Edgar told us, ‘We want to help.’ We have IUOE operators who use the ALLU buckets, and we agreed this would enhance our training. So, we ironed out the details.” 

The ALLU Transformer was delivered to IUOE’s Texas training facility just prior to the June 17 session. Chavez and ALLU Group Inc. Vice President, Training and Application, Bernie Olender attended for initial setup and to observe and assist with the class, which hosted 19 students. Moving forward, the ALLU Transformer will be used with IUOE’s intermediate pipeline training classes, in field training sessions where students will operate the unit in three- to four-hour rotations.

According to Chavez, “Safety is one of ALLU’s core values. The partnership with ALLU, IUOE and PLCA solidifies this value in the pipeline industry, as better training means safer overall operation.”

The pipeline training at the IUOE facility near Houston, Texas, covers all pipeline techniques from digging trenches, to laying pipeline, to padding/backfilling, to removing old pipeline. The mock pipeline jobsite accurately simulates real pipeline jobsites and situations. With the ALLU unit, training will include padding and backfilling, as well as maintenance of the unit.

“Our Texas training facility is first-class,” notes Abel. “We fly our members in and pick them up at the airport. We have a 225-room dormitory onsite, with a fully staffed kitchen and amenities. We serve three meals a day, we have a swimming pool and a recreation area — and our training is at no cost to IUOE members.”

Abel says the addition of the ALLU Transformer to the pipeline training program is a great benefit to IUOE membership, as it is an excellent embodiment of the advances in technology within the pipeline industry. “Right down to the ability to use Bluetooth to communicate between a smart phone and the bucket – ALLU is really on top of its game with technology,” he adds.

Additionally, Abel says participants were grateful to have Chavez and Olender onsite during training. “One participant told us it was refreshing and encouraging to see executives with ALLU step up, want to help and personally see it through.”

Beginning this fall, a new ALLU AC Crusher bucket will be delivered to an IUOE sister affiliate — Local 181 in Kentucky — to assist with hill and winch training. Abel says the rocky and hilly terrain in Kentucky lends to challenges that are unique from conditions in eastern Texas. The ability to train with the ALLU AC will be an additional benefit for IUOE members.

About ALLU Group

ALLU attachments are designed to operate in demanding environments on a variety of materials. This enables our customers to transform the way they work. For over 30 years, our attachments have been known for their quality and reliability, transforming business solutions throughout the world. We now operate from 7 regional offices and an extensive dealership group, and provide truly global distribution.

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CONEXPO CON/AGG and IFPE 2020 to Take Place in March

Registration is still open for the co-located CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2020 exhibitions, North America’s premiere events for the construction industries and the fluid power, power transmission and motion control industries. CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2020 will be held March 10-14 in Las Vegas.

Both CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE have already set exhibit space records and will feature industry-leading education programs. Several show ticket options are available, and all tickets include a monorail pass. New for 2020 is the opportunity to mix and match education sessions between CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE for one price.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE come around every three years for a can’t-miss event. No other shows bring together as many segments of the construction industries and of the fluid power, power transmission and motion control industries in one place.

Attendees will have up-close access to the leading manufacturers and suppliers, latest product innovations, and knowledge resources to help their businesses thrive. For 2020:

  • The Tech Experience returns with two locations.
  • The show campus has expanded with the new Festival Grounds for a total of 10 areas to explore.
  • Plenty of show shuttles and hotel shuttles will run during the event, plus information stands and staff will help attendees easily navigate the show campus.
  • CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE make it easy to prepare with an interactive online exhibitor directory and a show mobile app that will continuously synch to your online customizable show planner.

Education is always a vital component of both CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE to help attendees not only survive, but thrive in a changing and global industry.

Attendees at the 2020 shows can take advantage of more than 180 education sessions packed with timely and actionable information, developed with the guidance of leading industry groups, and delivered by industry experts. 

New for 2020 are mix-and-match sessions between CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE for company teams to cost-effectively obtain learning sessions targeted to their needs.

“The line-up of programming is not only larger than it has ever been but includes a fresh line-up of speakers stacked side-by-side with core programming that is always highly attended,” said Eileen Dickson, Vice President of Education, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and CONEXPO-CON/AGG Education Committee chair.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 education features 10 tracks covering a variety of equipment applications, site development, fleet management, business best practices, technology, safety, and attracting and retaining talent.

IFPE education is grouped in two tracks: Hydraulics and Pneumatics at Work and The Business of Fluid Power. Its popular College Courses return, and new is an IFPE Research Symposium.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG Education – Targeting the Construction Industries

CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 education tracks will offer the latest trends and best practices focused on: aggregates; asphalt; concrete; cranes, rigging and aerial lifts; earthmoving and site development; equipment management and maintenance; business management; and safety, plus technology solutions and attracting, engaging and retaining talent.

“The education committee took great care in putting together a program that grows attendee knowledge on building their business on all fronts, whether the technical skills needed in the field or best practices to build their business,” said Graham Brent, CEO of the NCCCO Foundation and CONEXPO-CON/AGG Education Committee vice chair.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 education includes:

  • Driving New Innovation at Complacent Companies – James Benham, JB Knowledge
  • Drones on Construction Sites for All Contractors – Ryan Murguia/Zach Pieper, Quantum Land Design
  • Gain a Competitive Advantage Through Construction Technology – Tauhira Hoossainy, Milwaukee Tool
  • How to Win the War for Talent – Gregg Schoppman, FMI
  • Safety Training Ninja – Regina McMichael, The Learning Factory, Inc.
  • Technology Trends: Lessons Learned – Helga Jacobsen, United Rentals
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Construction Businesses Fail – Larry Kokklenberg, Center for Business Development

IFPE Education – Focused on Fluid Power

The IFPE College Courses emphasize hands-on technical knowledge on the effective use of hydraulics in mobile equipment. Content includes Fundamentals of Hydraulic Systems; Electro Hydrostatic Actuation; Safety Hydraulics, Best Practices for Modern Machinery; Hydraulics in the Digital Age: Hydraulic Fluid Properties, Efficiency and Contamination Control; and Digital Design.

The IFPE Research Symposium is hosted by IFPE co-owner National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) and runs during lunch (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) March 11-13. Sessions will showcase the latest fluid power research at U.S. universities being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to improve energy efficiency of off-road vehicle hydraulic systems.

“We focused on developing education programs that offer attendees the latest ideas and innovations in fluid power technology, applications and research. Our classes and sessions deliver critical information for engineers and others involved in the design and manufacturing process,” said Eric Lanke, President/CEO, NFPA. 

IFPE 2020 education includes:

  • Additive Manufacturing – Vince Anewenter, Milwaukee School of Engineering
  • Industry of the Future – Prasad Ganorkar, McKinsey & Company
  • IoT – Sharing Data Across Customer Boundaries – Adam Livesay, Elevat
  • Mobile Hydraulic Robotics – Autonomous Machines – Chris Woodard and John O’Neill, Danfoss
  • Workforce Development – Lynn Beyer, NFPA

Learn more and register online at conexpoconagg.com and ifpe.com.

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.

4 Steps Before Deciding What Works Best for You

Editor’s Note: When a new technology is introduced to the market, you can’t help but think, “will this give me a competitive advantage?” Unfortunately, the answer won’t come from the sales person or tech expert you’re contacting.  Only you can determine whether a technology is the right solution for the challenges you face.

Tauhira Ali, senior manager of construction technology at Milwaukee Tool is speaking about this very situation at CONEXPO-CON/AGG in March. She says that your competitive advantage does lie within construction technology, but there are certain steps you have to take in order to tap into this advantage. If you would like more information about Tauhira or her session, please feel free to reach out.

Attend the education session “Gain a Competitive Advantage Through Construction Technology” on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at CONEXPO-CON/AGG. Register now

It happens more and more now. A new technology is introduced to the market and you think, “Will this give me a competitive advantage?” The answer won’t come from a salesperson, tech expert or trade magazine. Only you can determine whether a technology is the right solution for the challenges you face. Here are some steps to take before investing resources in technology that you think will give you a competitive advantage.

1. IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM

“Before you can solve a problem, you need to identify it,” says Tauhira Ali, Senior Manager of Construction Technology at Milwaukee Tool. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your  current workflow and how will this change in the future? How do your processes compare with the competitive environment you’re working in?

Chances are that your challenge doesn’t exist in a silo so don’t keep your problem-solving effort in one either. Is it a process challenge? Equipment management? Productivity? Safety? Ali suggests empowering employees to better understand innovation and share their insights.  In that way you are more likely to find solutions that employees want to work with. “Focus on people and tasks. Know who you are and what you need,” she says.

2. INVESTIGATE

After you’ve identified the problem, start investigating. Technology solutions are rarely bought off the shelf these days. You need to get educated on products and solutions. Fortunately, there are many sources of information on the Internet including articles, podcasts, videos. “Find the leading suppliers in your market and invite them to help you solve your particular problem. Be vocal about what you want,” Ali says. “You are the customer, explain your needs. Tell them what your deal breakers are. While you are learning from them, they are learning from you.”  

Construction technology startup companies received $1.05 billion in investment from venture capitalists in the first half of 2018, a record high. Startups and well established companies can introduce you to something you are unaware of such as wearables to improve safety or the latest in drone technology. Convey your high standards and insist the provider you work with share or exceed that standard.

3. FIND THE OPPORTUNITY

Assess the benefits of any solution suggested. Does it fit within your existing processes? Does it offer a more efficient process? What gains will you see and when? Can you test it on a small scale before implementing something more robust? Again, know who you are and establish a process that works.

Investment in technology can bring unforeseen advantages. It can make talent recruitment easier, bringing in skilled people who use data to assist with in-house and on-site decision making. The best people are attracted to companies that are innovating and outpacing their competitors. They see growth opportunities for their careers. Ali previously created technology solutions and assessed business viability for products and platforms in the automotive and aerospace industries before joining Milwaukee Tool. “The construction industry is so ripe for innovation today and in the future of how we build,” she says.

4. PREPARE TO IMPLEMENT

Clean your house. New technology will work better within a strong foundation. That means documented processes, streamlined tasks, proven methods, and vision. It doesn’t need to be complicated, just clearly communicate how work is done and why. Define what success looks like so your progress can be measured. Be flexible. Pivot when necessary.

Market trend reports can help in assessing competition but don’t forget the value of peer groups who are not competitors. “Face-to-face communication at association meetings and trade conferences is always valuable,” says Ali.