Equipment Manufacturers Assist Contractors in Training the Next Generation of Workers

From virtual reality and online training tools to facilities set up for in-person training, manufacturers are trying to do their part to help workers new to the industry quickly assimilate

Equipment Manufacturers Assist Contractors in Training the Next Generation of Workers

Both equipment manufacturers and contractors have come together at CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas, highlighting some of the efforts that occur between the two to ensure that workers new to the industry are properly trained.

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Labor shortage continues to be one of the major talking points of the construction industry, and manufacturers are trying to do their part in finding and training potential workers.

“We need to equip our workers better,” says Jeff Kurse, a contractor based in Nevada who was attending CONEXPO-CON/AGG this week in Las Vegas. “It’s getting harder to find people with experience, so us contractors and manufacturers need to do a better job of training the next generation.”

Manufacturers such as Ditch Witch and Vermeer are doing their part by highlighting virtual reality training tools for directional drilling, and having training tools available online as well.

Kurse, who does general excavation, says he and a few of his fellow coworkers have seen more manufacturers stepping up with ways to help newcomers to the industry.

“We’re all in this together,” Kurse says. “CASE has a training facility in Northern Wisconsin. Other manufacturers have training facilities too. It’s on us as contractors to make sure we send new guys out there to get that training. It’s better than throwing them on a multi-thousand-dollar piece of equipment right away.”

One of those coworkers accompanying Kurse at CONEXPO-CON/AGG was Nathan Shell, a newer employee with the company. Shell was celebrating his 3-month anniversary.

“Being here and able to sit in the equipment that we might be getting, feeling the controls and seeing some of the demos really helps in learning what the equipment is capable of doing,” Shell says. “I’m coming from the food industry, so I’m still pretty green in a lot of this.”

Manufacturers say contractors shouldn’t be afraid to ask dealer reps and their current manufacturing representatives about training programs that might be available.

“We’re all here to help the contractors and the industry,” says Greg Wolfe, director of training for Ditch Witch. “We know there is a labor shortage and we all want to help eliminate that and build up the industry.”

Other CONEXPO-CON/AGG Notes:

  • Fist bumps, elbow bumps, and a simple nod and smile are more common this year than the handshake at CONEXPO-CON/AGG, but fears of the coronavirus haven’t scared away attendees.

    “I think there are more people here this year than in 2017,” says Tyler Weir of Indiana. “There’s a ton of people here walking around, checking out the awesome equipment.”

    In February, show organizers said registration was on track to exceed 130,000 attendees. Final numbers aren’t yet available, but a spokesperson said that this year’s registrations have outpaced those of 2017.

    The vast majority of attendees are from the United States or Canada, according to show officials. Some registrants from China, South Korea and Italy were forced to cancel because of travel restrictions.

    “This is a golden opportunity to be able to support our industry,” says Michael Poirie, director of OTR OE Global at Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations in Peoria, Illinois. “We’ve got meetings with clients and customers, and the reality is I don’t think it’s risky as long as you use good sense.”
  • CASE Construction Equipment introduced its “Project Zeus” — a 580 EV (electric vehicle). The fully electric backhoe loader’s power and performance is equivalent to other diesel-powered backhoes in the CASE product line and provides lower daily operating costs while producing zero emissions.

    Two units have already been sold to utilities in the U.S. — NYSEG and RG&E, AVANGRID companies, and National Grid. CASE has the capability to produce additional units throughout 2020 before ramping up production to meet greater demand in future years.
  • AGTEK Development Company, a part of Hexagon, announced the introduction of Underground, a software to simplify takeoff and production control of pipe and underground utilities.

    AGTEK’s new Underground software combines intuitive data entry with flexible reporting to speed up takeoffs and tracks production of storm, sewer, water and other underground utilities. Underground applies trench and pipe specifications to compute bedding, cover, backfill, pipe displacement and trench spoil for each run of pipe. Underground reports pipe and lateral lengths, and counts of joints, valves and other fittings.


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