How effective could we be...
Just how effective could we be if we were to combine all the knowledge, experience, wisdom and insight that all the members here have and try to affect change in the industry?
This forum has enough members that if we became a voice for change we very well could affect just that. Equipment manufacturers always claim to seek out opinions from Operators when designing new machines, do they know about this forum? If not, why not? How do we make them aware?
I believe change is necessary and it should always be for the better but if those entrusted to make changes don't know what changes are for the better we really have ourselves to blame.
The industry as a whole is changing and rapidly so, machines are becoming increasingly more automated when one day there won't be a need for Operators altogether. Unless we act now there will come a time when we won't be able to act at all.
I grew up in construction and remember fondly, watching heavy equipment and their Operators perform amazing feats of skill. I had more Tonka toys than anyone I knew, and was beyond thrilled when my family decided to diversify into civil construction and a few of us were sent off to school to learn how to operate heavy equipment. I know there are kids out there now who also marvel at heavy equipment and it would be a shame if they never had the opportunity to operate them.
What can WE do to preserve and strengthen this industry? It's said that one voice carries little weight but many voices carry great weight, I guess it comes down to, do we want our voices heard?
This is one idea I've had where a collective voice could effect positive change. I have long heard that one of the biggest advancements in heavy equipment technology is the ever increasing reliance on computers, to control the engine, hydraulics and machine diagnostics. I have also heard from many owners, operators and technicians that this same technology is the cause of most problems regarding machine reliability and up-time.
Having spent 35 years in the electrical industry I can safely say, heat is one the greatest enemies to electronics, moisture and vibration run close second's but heat is ruinous. Today there are numerous ways to counter the effects of heat, moisture and vibration all of them are inexpensive, off-the-shelf and readily available. I have seen the internal's of heavy equipment computers and they employ none of these technologies. The main technologies are heat transfering coatings and super efficient heat sinks. For moisture intrusion, the same "heat" coatings also protect from moisture. As for vibration, most cars employ a higher tech solution for their CD players than equipment manufacturers do for their computers.
It is true that computer technology advances at a significant rate and what you buy today is obsolete in 6 months but heat, moisture and vibration will be here for eternity and never becomes obsolete. Up time for machines is crucial for productivity and profitability, if the manufactures aren't aware of current or emerging technologies they can't employ them.
Cameras are another improvement to machines and they ARE welcome at that. The trouble is, it's usually just one mounted at the rear. I owned an Infinity SUV and it had 4 cameras with the push of a button I could see a birds eye view of the SUV and its surroundings with a 360 degree view. With current and available technology an Operator should never have to look anywhere but forwards.
Back-up and obstacle sensors just like those available for cars, they are an option on some machines but should be standard equipment on all. The safety factor alone is worth every penny.
I could go on, and will at a later date. But it would be great to hear from the members in here too.
Here's another idea,
SEATS! You know, where we sit for 8, 10 and sometimes 12 hours a day and maybe even more. The seats in most machines are pathetic even with mechanical or air suspensions. There are a few out there with active and adaptive suspension systems and these SHOULD be the rule not the exception, it would mean SO much for our lower backs. Heated seats are awesome but what about ventilated seats, again there are a few out there but it is the exception not the rule and why is that? Fabric seat upholstery, this I can understand for comfort but for longevities sake they are worthless and will disintegrate in only a few years if you're lucky. There are materials out there that would solve the problem, one is neoprene backing which would allow us to clean them without worry of water caused decay. There are textiles out there that will last a very, very long time yet no one wants to use them. If we collectively spoke up about it we have a chance of making the change.
Last edited by SeaMac; 06-17-2012 at 04:06 PM.
I don't think a lot of contractor will pay for it or if they do would they fix it once it breaks? Seat fabric is a big thing they could change though. We have all hoped in a machine after someone with poor hygiene or that smokes that sucks. I like the HD vinyl(?) seats on the open cab Cats dozers.
Ah but Dozerboy,
If we were to use our collective voice we could actually force the manufacturers to make such things standard not optional. Think about this, there are over 27,000 members here, if we were to all right one letter to say CAT or Deere, do you think we would be ignored? I agree with the HD vinyl for open ROPS machines but nowadays they're mostly enclosed with horrible seats. If Owners and Contractors knew that they could mitigate Workman's Comp claims by offering seats that help keep an Operator's back in good shape and keep them happily working I do believe they would welcome the changes.
Originally Posted by Dozerboy
SeaMac, not to be arguementative but as a whole, profits drive developements and innovations in equipement for companies that manufacture it, not so much what we think is needed or not, and at the same time a lot of the electronics that controls engines and things are there for emissions and to get the performance and fuel economy out of them, not what we feel they should have or how they should be designed. As for all the other things we could complain about, most are designed for operator comfort in mind and go along with that idea. But whle on the subject, they also do surveys about the majority of people and what they like or will pay for to get as options or whatever, not what 100% want, but the majority, now when you compare that to millions of people in as many different countries as they sell them, majority rules, now thats not to say some of us are in the side opposite of the majortiy whom don't like some of the stuff thats on the machines, we in all essence don't really matter, since we're not the ones who are paying millions to buy the stuff, we'll hunt up some other manufacturer that sells machines that somehow fit us better or our needs better than the majority does.
Now as for seats, I have some first hand experience in dealing with a seat company that put models into machines to demo them and get feedback from the users, the seat company was grammer if I recall, and they put dozens in combines we were using to find out who liked what, turns out nobody liked them all, but the majority of the crew liked a couple and thats what came out in the new models of combines the next year, we tried different materials, different suspensions designs, lumbar supports, back rests, swivel mechanism, adjustment mechanisms, air ride, hydraulic, nitrogen charged, spring, rubber shock mounted, and a dozen other things to try them out, they even switched componenets around for us to try to get the best all around seat and comfort for the masses so to speak, nothing was much over about 70% of the operators as being happy, but when we got to 70% the seat company was thrilled and put out the prototype the next season and all in all it was a winning combination for most people. So again it goes back to data and statistics of sales and operator complaints and satisifaction, all companies do just the same thing, some times they win big and other times not and go back to the drawing board so to speak and try it again.
As for being a collective voice and making a difference, first you have to have everyone agree on something that needs changing, and I'm doubting you'll get that, not everyone is going to have the same complaints and dislikes or likes on anything, that goes for the operators, bookkeepers, comany owners who actually buy the stuff, to banks who loan the money so it can be bought, everyone will have a different idea about the same machine. I know of machines that operators loved to run but as they say the bean counters who were watching the bottom line hated them due to poor payback, so down the road they went and were replaced by something else what was more profitable for the company, not so much loved by the operators.
I agree with you Randy and no argument here,
I have been on both sides of the fence, a business owner and an employee. In the end you are correct it all has to do with the bottom line. It is a fact though that any Operator who is comfortable is more productive any improvement to make that Operator more comfortable and mitigate future repetitive stress injuries also positively affects the bottom line. Any technology that improves machine performance and reliability also positively affects the bottom line. Case in point European equipment manufacturers go out of their way to improve ergonomics, ease of service and machine performance, that is not the case with American manufacturers to the same degree. You won't find the same amount of repetitive stress injuries resulting from operating modern European equipment as you will with American, statistic generally do not lie.
And you're correct no one seat will make everyone happy, however if the seats are at least 6-way adjustable you can find a comfort zone, if 8-way or above adjustable and you couldn't find a comfort zone then well, I can't help you. The facts are, auto manufacturers are able to accomodate the masses and it is possible to make a seat that is sturdy enough to be applicable to heavy equipment. One of the biggest problems with the US as a whole is corporate greed, they don't grasp the bigger picture which is why we as a nation are losing not winning. There was a time not long ago when the world looked to us for innovation and quality, do they do that any longer, not so much because they now do what we used to do much better than we ever did.
As for a collective voice, it has been proven time and time again, the squeaky wheel gets greased first. If the manufacturers only conduct limited surveys they too aren't aware of the bigger picture. Once corporate America realizes the way we do things at present isn't working they will be forced to make changes. But again, if we provide unsolicited information, feedback and insight they will listen, when in numbers you can't be drowned out. I firmly believe in being part of the solution and not the problem, my family has been in this country literally since the beginning and it makes me sick the way we are headed and I am willing to do my part to make a change for the better.
The single biggest problem with corporate America is their flawed ideaology and philosphy when it comes to profits. Greed makes people impatient and they want more and want it now. Greed will blind you from seeing beyond your nose and into the future. How many Operators suffer from back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome. How many Technicians have scarred and twisted fingers? Once they realize that their business models need to be sustainable then they'll change. Our economy isn't sustainable for the same reason. In the end you DO have to listen to what the customer demands and the Contractors have to realize the same. It is more cost effective in the long term for Contractors to spend some money up-front rather than pay for lawuits and higher insurance premiums down the road. It's just a simple matter of economics pay some now or pay a great deal more later.
Originally Posted by Randy88
Last edited by SeaMac; 06-17-2012 at 11:05 PM.