Local 139 Teams with Roland Machinery to Hold Intelligent Machine Control Training Program
Engineers Local 139 recently held a daylong training session at its Coloma, Wisconsin, facility. Local 139 teamed up with Roland Machinery to showcase Komatsu's Intelligent Machine Control for the dealer's customers.
Dan Sperberg, Training Director and Vice President for Engineers Local 139, was on hand to help provide training and coordination between Kyle McDowell, Technology Solutions Department Manager for Roland Machinery, who led the training session, and the contractors who showed up for the training session. "We show workers the new equipment so they can become more efficient," said Sperberg.
According to Sperberg, there were more than 100 contractors and their employees present at the training day where there were four brand new Komatsu excavators and two dozers showcased.
The idea of the training day is to provide contractors, union operators, and members of the Local 139 during the slower winter months the opportunity to get a hands-on training approach to improve their handling skills and to get acclimated with the machine control system in a controlled environment.
Sperberg leads a team of seasoned trainers and has been a part of the Local 139 since 1997. He and his staff offer a multitude of courses from single day courses to three week advanced courses cover all aspects of the trade.
Jenkins Davis, Senior District Manager, was also on hand to provide additional training and expertise on Komatsu's Intelligent Machine Control. Davis oversees Komatsu's territory throughout most of the Midwest. He, along with Roland Machinery, have been working with contractors large and small to get everyone up to date on how to properly use and become experts with the new technology.
"With the introduction of the Integrated Machine Control systems on our dozers and excavators, we felt it was really beneficial to spend some time orientating operators because it's something new," said Davis. "It is beneficial for all operators to be familiar with the system so they can become comfortable with it and embrace it in their organization."
Though various iterations of intelligent machine control has been in use in the industry for the better part of the last 15 years, only recently has it become more affordable for contractors taking on smaller jobs.
"Many large size contractors have embraced this technology because they have the resources necessary to best utilize the system," said Davis. "Small to Medium size contractors are beginning to add machine control technology now because they have realized it is necessary for them to compete in the market."
According to Davis, the future of the industry is moving more and more toward various types of machine control. The reason being is these systems provide operators an advantage by allowing them to be more efficient with time, be more accurate during grading operations, and improve overall performance to name a few.
One of the big challenges with the industry today is finding enough seasoned operators. There's no denying that the construction industry, as well as other trade industries, is lacking in seasoned manpower. Komatsu's Intelligent Machine Control dozers and excavators give operators of various experience levels the ability to get the job done right, quickly and efficiently the first time through.
What is Intelligent Machine Control?
Komatsu's Intelligent Machine Control is a factory installed, integrated grading system, which includes a GNSS antenna attached to the top of the cab on dozers and to the house handrails on excavators, enhanced chassis mounted inertial measuring unit, and electrical stroke measurement sensors attached to the hydraulic cylinders.
This sensor package helps interpret radio transmissions from multiple satellites overhead, and local base station signals providing current position information for blade positioning and vehicle chassis location. This information is then compared to a 3-D model of the site plans and adjustments are then made through an on-board controller to the hydraulic valving to move the blade of the machine to the grade that was planned previously.
With the location of the GNSS antenna on the top of the cab, there is no need to worry about potential damage, cable and connection wear, or safety risks commonly associated with other blade mounted solutions of the past. This cab-mounted solution drastically helps eliminate down time and keeps the machine safer and more productive. There's also the safety aspect of it. The largest area of risk within a contractor's business is fall related injuries. Operators don't have to climb all over their dozers or excavators setting up sensors and other equipment. The top-cab mounted position negates the need to put an operators safety in jeopardy.
Another positive to the GNSS Antenna being mounted on top of the cab is that there's no need to waste time installing and uninstalling at the beginning and end of the workday. Operators don't need to spend a half-hour or more setting up and recalibrating the system. It's as simple as booting up the touch screen in the cab, selecting the presets to tailor the blade response to the material conditions and type of job, and getting to work.
In addition to the safety aspect is also the control portion. With Komatsu's Intelligent Machine Control system, the operator now has the ability to automate blade control from the first to the last pass. There are four different user selectable blade control modes for different application usage, material density, and operational characteristics. These modes allow an operator to wholly focus on how he or she is moving material around the site, and let the machine control the amount being moved. This not only makes the operator substantially more efficient, but also drastically saves the machine-on-undercarriage wear and fuel consumption being as how the blade is always in the most efficient push.
Komatsu and Roland have teamed up to provide the Intelligent Machine Control systems at all 16 of Roland's branches throughout five states. McDowell also explained that everything is done in-house - from model building, machine diagnostics, data analysis, and site-prep. This means information is available to the contractor and operator immediately. If an issue presents itself, operators have the ability to reach out to a local team to get it solved, which will mean less downtime on the site.
Davis stated there's a cost difference between going from a basic excavator or dozer to ones outfitted with a machine control system. For some contractors, this cost difference seems far too tall and outweighs the benefits. The reality of the situation is that the cost upfront will more than benefit in the long-term.
You Can Bet On It
Kyle McDowell led the daylong training session educating contractors and their employees. McDowell is based in Roland's Springfield, Illinois, headquarters.
In explaining the benefits of a machine control system, McDowell told a story of a contractor based in Missouri who believed it wasn't necessary to use the added technology. The contractor was an old-school guy who ran his company with his son and didn't see the need to implement these new systems. The problem was, he found it was getting more difficult to stay competitive with bids and was losing out on contracts to other contractors who were using these systems.
Not one to give up, he decided to place a bet with his son. The contract they received had his company grading on both sides of a river. He told his son that if he finishes his side of the river faster, then he'd upgrade his fleet to use Intelligent Machine Control.
The contractor and his son started work on opposite sides of the river at the same time and began the race to complete their side first. The contractor's son, using Intelligent Machine Control on his side of the river, finished his side more than a day and half faster. This is due to the fact that his son was able to do the right cuts and the right grade the first time without any delays. The contractor immediately upgraded his fleet after finishing out that bid and has seen a steady increase for his business.
"Operators have the most influence on what machines contractors are going to buy," said McDowell. Operators using the dozers and excavators are going to want as much information about the job in front of them and this technology provides that for them. It helps them become a better operator, which then in turn, makes them more efficient, which makes the contractor more profitable.
Also, at the event, the Local 139's President and Business Manager Terry McGowan and Sperberg presented Roland Machinery's Vice President and General Manager of the Wisconsin Division Larry Gindville with a plaque stating the Local 139 Operating Engineers Training Center is "Proud to Honor Roland Machinery Company for Outstanding Contributions and Support of the 2016 Training Season."