Technology Provides Constant Progress for Hammett Excavation
The mass-excavation game is one of massive competition. Margins tighten as bids are won and lost by pennies. The only way for contractors to gain the winning edge is by working as efficiently as possible. The latest technology is helping make that possible for the ever-expanding Hammett Excavation of Dodd City, Texas.
An Honest Hour's Work for an Honest Hour's Pay
This was Harry Hammett's philosophy when he started his company in 1963. It's how he got work and hired help, and it continues to shape nearly every aspect of the organization's culture.
"My dad always taught me to be completely honest with everyone we work with and take care of our people, because those folks are the real ones responsible for building this business," explains Gaylon Hammett, second-generation Owner of Hammett Excavation. "I try to stay in touch with my team as much as possible and remember that our job is to make the customer look good."
The effort does not go unnoticed. From his foremen to the general contractors he's working for, there's a deep sense of respect conveyed any time someone mentions the name Gaylon Hammett.
More Than Mass Excavation
Today the company flexes its capabilities in more ways than moving dirt.
"We like to provide the full package for customers, so we do mass excavation, select fills, rock, concrete, storm drain, utilities - we do all trades now," says Hammett.
A huge element making this possible is technology - more specifically, Topcon and GPS capabilities. "One day my dad saw a surveyor in the pit and said, "˜Why do I have to wait for him? What can we do to keep moving?'" says Hammett. "Waiting for a guy to set up his instruments and get all those measurements is necessary, but it always slows down production. So we thought, why can't we use the same GPS technology from the dozers and put it on the excavators?"
Leading the charge, Hammett Excavation was one of the first companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to use Topcon GPS technology on an excavator.
"It's really what allowed us to take that big step from 60 employees to now 150. Good people and good technology - they've greatly sped up our production capabilities, and that's how we've grown."
It's also what allows Hammett Excavation to compete with companies nearly 10 times its size. The biggest benefit? There's no more worry about whether the operator is over- or under-digging - the computer adjusts the machine's controls so the dig is dead on, every time. This benefit is compounded by the shortage of skilled laborers.
"If you have an ace operator, that technology will make them a superstar. If your operator is just OK, it will make them an ace. That's why we've gone with the John Deere 470G LC Excavators - we're very happy with them, and it's why we continue to buy them. I'd put them up against anything on the market."
Keeping It Moving
Nothing throws a wrench in your productivity like having a machine go down. In this industry, you have to expect the unexpected, but you can also do yourself some favors.
"Nothing makes me more mad than when I pull up to a jobsite and see a machine not running, especially an excavator," says Darin Stroud, Vice President of Hammett Excavation. "If the excavator is down, that means there's no dirt for the trucks to move, and nothing for the dozers to grade. We've had competitor excavators that would automatically shut down to undergo their regen cycles. Sometimes they'd be down for an hour at a time, three times a day."
Stroud is happy to say it's a different story with the 470G. "These new machines have none of that. The 470 does its regen while you're working, and it's barely noticeable. My guys can keep the same pace, which means we're staying closer to our bid and getting the job done faster."
Whether he's on the jobsite or not, Stroud knows when productivity levels are where they should be, thanks to his use of JDLink. "I can see where the machines are and how much fuel they have left - it's blown away some of my operators when I ask them about the machine throwing a code that they weren't even aware of yet. It helps me keep an eye on idle time, too. If something is sitting still too long, I know I have something to check in on." Which is a handy tool to have when Hammett's crews span over a 150-mile radius, but most importantly, it helps prevent big breakdowns.
"If a machine starts running too hot or an oil filter is clogged, I'll hear about it from our dealer contact, David Wilder of RDO Equipment. If that call prevents an engine from blowing up - well, that's a lot of expense and downtime avoided right there."
Bringing in Backup
No matter the site location or situation at hand, Hammett Excavation knows the people at RDO Equipment have its back. "David Wilder has been working with us right about three years," says Hammett. "He's always improving, and that makes Darin and I really happy. We've stuck together, he's dedicated himself to us, and we're really proud of that."
Recognizing all the parts that make the whole is a strength of Hammett's. "It's all the people who make this company what it is."