In January we’re going to take a look at the labor issue affecting pavement maintenance contractors, but it can be argued that an examination of labor starts here. This annual Pavement Showcase, which is essentially a “wish book” of more that XXX materials, tools and equipment, is quite possibly the place to start when considering your labor needs for 2016.
The reason is that equipment equals productivity. Your crews can simply do more work -- and probably more high-quality work – more efficiently when they are using the best equipment.
Equipment manufacturers in the paving and pavement maintenance industry are constantly at work trying to improve the products they sell. They’re looking to improve fuel efficiency, equipment longevity, ease of operation, on-the-job safety as well as looking to reduce operator fatigue. Basically they know your business and are trying to upgrade current models and introduce new models that can ease your job or enable you to improve profitability.
And this issue is where to start looking for the new equipment than can do any or all of those things. And it’s not just equipment you can add to your fleet, it’s equipment that can replace worn-out equipment that just isn’t operating at peak efficiency or effectiveness for you anymore. It’s no surprise that equipment that breaks down makes your crews inefficient, reducing productivity on that job and possibly delaying other jobs – which impacts customer service as well as overall productivity over the year. And equipment that breaks down – or even that doesn’t break down but is worn down – won’t produce at the high level of quality you and your customers demand.
So now that your season is over, consider what you need to do to take the next steps in your business development (attending the 2016 National Pavement Expo, Jan. 27-30 in Charlotte, NC, should be on your list). And take a good look at the equipment that got you through the season. Is it what you want to rely on to get you through 2016? Can you do more, better, if you buy a new paver? Sealcoater? Sweeper?
There’s no question these are decisions that can’t be made lightly, but the decisions you make this winter about how your fleet is going to help you produce next season will have a significant impact on the approach you take to your labor force next spring.