On April 28, 2021, Cratos Equipment hosted a panel discussion with three construction industry veterans and experts. They shared their insights and specific actions to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19.
The webinar was hosted by Laura Ure, the marketing director for Cratos Equipment– with Alex Berg, Randy Hayes, and Jeff Keeling in the panel.
Alex Berg is the CEO and founder of Cratos Equipment. Alex grew up in a family of demolition contractors. While working alongside his father in demolition, he discovered his true passion— helping contractors succeed. Seven years ago, Alex Berg founded Cratos Equipment with just one machine and has now expanded to eight complete battery-powered machines to help make job sites safer, more efficient, and more profitable.
Randy Hayes the vice president of business development and strategic accounts for Vacuworx. Vacuworx is best-known for its vacuum lifting systems that serve various industries, including oil and gas, civil construction, concrete renovation, and even in-plant manufacturing. Randy has been working in the oil and gas pipeline and related markets for 38 years.
Jeff Keeling the North American Sales and Marketing Manager for Brokk. Brokk has been the leading manufacturer of remote-control demolition machines for 45 years and serves the construction, tunneling, mining, cement, metal process, nuclear, and safety rescue industries. Jeff has been a part of the construction equipment industry since 1988. With over 20 years of experience in the concrete industry, he finds solutions to his customer’s biggest challenges.
The three panelists answered questions about increasing safety, avoiding delays, and choosing the right equipment to help replace labor and decrease costs.
The first topic of discussion focused on safety measures vital to keeping a job site safe and mitigating risks that affect the bottom line.
Both Randy and Jeff were well equipped to discuss this topic as their products are explicitly designed to keep workers out of harm’s way, let the machines do the work. Jeff talks about how Brokk got its start– it was created because two demolition workers were in a hot environment, and they needed a solution. Since its conception 45 years ago, Brokk has been focused on ensuring that workers make it back home safe. Vacuworx got its start in 1999, and its focus has always been taking care of people, keeping people out of harm’s way. Alex discussed his own story of working on diesel skid steers inside buildings, breathing in toxic fumes. He wanted a way for people to work indoors without noise or fumes, and he invested in battery-powered machines.
The consensus was that if you want to keep people safe, you have to turn to equipment, and doing so will help companies be profitable.
Avoiding Time Delays:
Another significant cost faced by construction companies is time delays. A delayed project means the loss of profit elsewhere. But, according to the experts, the correct machines can help mitigate these delays. The industry lags in the curve, the right tools might be there, but they don’t always get used. Using tools, Vacuworx has been able to lift 90,000 using vacuum technology. Using tools and making machines versatile is a game-changer. Even though the market today embraces technology a lot more receptive, it isn’t uncommon to hear, “but that is how I’ve always done it.” Getting those in the construction industry to rely on tools can be a big ask, but they are detrimental in keeping work on time and within budget. Keeping a job site on schedule can make the difference between being profitable and operating at a loss.
When you can mechanize certain things, you should. Machines don’t get sick, they don’t get tired, and they don’t get distracted. What is more, is that they keep skilled labor in the places they are needed most. There is a lot of manual work that can be replaced with machines and keep a job site on task. Taking advantage of the technology that is out there that fits your job site is almost a requirement.
It is essential to understand your job site and what tools are available to make it run, with fewer demands on labor and more demands on technology. It certainly doesn’t mean changing everything, but just tweaking certain things to make sure your job site is more efficient. For example, instead of doing two projects with ten people, you can do five projects with ten people.
The Labor Market:
Along the lines of using machines to stay on schedule, the same can be true for the labor market. Thus, the labor expense is another line item that causes construction companies to deal with a loss of profit, particularly as skilled labor costs continue to increase.
Randy discusses their Vacuworx machines built simple both from a maintenance standpoint and an operational perspective. As it concerns the training, there is a lot less required. By keeping machines and equipment simple to use, you eliminate job site frustrations and make it easy for unskilled laborers to use. While it doesn’t mean replacing employees, it does mean making untrained employees more productive and valuable. In addition, having the right equipment on a job site means saving on labor expenses. Skilled workers are hard to find, and Alex mentions the importance of training them and promoting them to take on more responsibility and rise within the company. Randy suggests keeping them happy with the latest technology, extensive training, opportunities to grow, and good culture.
Panelists used real job site experience to illustrate how the right equipment reduced the need for manual labor and could make the best use of the labor available.
One big thing that keeps machines operational is a daily maintenance checklist. Machines that are not functional can be detrimental to keeping a job site on schedule. Good maintenance comes from good training and following the instructions of the manufacturer.
The maintenance schedule is essential. If you adhere to it, you can keep your machines operational. Every operator should have the information necessary to conduct a daily machine check and fully understand the proper usages of the equipment.
Training on a new machine purchase is essential. Many equipment manufacturers also provide online training courses or live one-on-one training sessions to help keep the machine operating at its peak performance.
We encourage you to listen to our webinar: 5 Way to Improve Profits in 2021. You’ll glean plenty of insights from the panel of experts on how to make your job site more profitable.
Are you interested in attending our next webinar? The future of job site safety and performance – Register Here