Grading and Excavation Contractor Magazine

Editor’s Comments: Adopt New Technologies

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Credit: Caterpillar
I still have an iPhone 5. I haven’t upgraded to the 6, 7, 8, or X. I know the newer models are more efficient and more productive. They’re faster and have better memory. The cameras can do magical things. The thing is, I remember it took me a while to learn how to use this phone. It was a bit of a stressful process, and I would hate to have to go through that again. Besides, I can still make calls and texts. My emails still come to me. The pictures I take are good enough. And I don’t really want to pay any more money than I have to. These are the same arguments I made in my reluctance to upgrade from a flip phone. I’d still have the flip phone too, if it weren’t for everybody asking me, “When are going to get rid of that antique?”

So I think I understand some of you. Those who have not yet invested in machine control, telematics, fleet management software, or grade control. You’re using similar, if not the same arguments for shying away from the digital age. You’re able to justify this denial of technology because perhaps you feel the same way I do about my cell phone; what I’m using still works. I’m imploring you not to follow my example for a number of reasons.

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The longer you wait to learn and use current technologies, the harder it’s going to be once you take the leap. Machine control and grade control and telematics can all be quite daunting. But now these technologies are evolving into automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Instead of telling the heavy equipment what to do, predictive data analysis will allow the iron to tell us what it’s going to do. Using machine learning and deep learning along with natural language processing, AI will be able to streamline complicated jobs using historical data from previous similar projects. Instead of offering technology as an add-on, equipment manufacturers are starting to build the iron around a digital heart. On top of all that, you have to start thinking about introducing drones into your job site and having them monitor and collect data. Don’t forget about 3D modeling which has eliminated the use of stakes and string and act as the blueprints for the project.

If your fear of change doesn’t alter your perception, maybe a fear of irony will. Heavy equipment manufacturers started developing current technologies, in large part, to make it easier to teach machine operating to a new and unskilled workforce. If you’re going to be hiring these new operators, they may not know how to run your old piece of equipment that doesn’t have grade control or GPS or engine idle control. It could be as if you put one of those old-timey rotary phones in front of him or her and they just stare at it not knowing what to do with it.

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Ridicule may not be my strongest argument, but it has nudged me much closer to a new iPhone after my granddaughter asked to watch videos on my phone. In her little voice, she asked, “Why is this so small?” And then after a few minutes, she practically threw it in my lap saying, “It says ‘low battery.’ Your phone’s not fun and I don’t like it.” I was humiliated.

Don’t let the other contractors do this to you.

When I get my new phone I will undoubtedly have to pay more for it. The thing is, if and when you do upgrade to the newest technologies, you get a return on investment. GX_bug_web

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