It is no secret that the construction industry, as a whole, is in dire need of skilled trade workers.
Did you know that, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 75 percent of construction companies reported difficulties in filling skilled positions (2017)? Many companies, stakeholders and industry workers are taking up the initiative to entice the next generation to join the highly rewarding career path.
Heavy Equipment Colleges of America (HEC) is taking a unique approach. It is currently the only Department of Education accredited school for crane operation and is using its position to reach out to prospective students.
The conversation includes debunking some common misconceptions and perceptions of what the position of a crane operator entails. In addition, it brings attention to the high-tech roles available in the industry.
As a part of these efforts, HEC purchased two Manitowoc MLC100-1 crawler cranes from H&E Equipment Services. The plan is to have students train on these modern cranes that feature the most up-to-date technology and capabilities.
“The total focus of our business is addressing the skills gap in blue-collar training and placing people in jobs,” said Bob Albano, president and CEO of HEC. “That means having new equipment to train on that will help students gain the best experience.
“The MLC100-1 units are sophisticated and natural for learning on. We have an instructor with 20 years of experience that says these units are much easier to teach on because they can customize and fine tune the operations to enable students to get used to operating them.”
About 60 percent of HEC students are military veterans, and a majority of the remaining students are millennials and younger. Albano draws a comparison between operating Manitowoc’s Crane Control System (CCS), and operating military vehicles or playing video games.
“The inside of a Manitowoc MLC100-1 cab is like being in a cockpit. It isn’t pulling levers and pulleys like when I started out,” Albano said. “The CCS utilizes computers screens and joysticks. All of our students are in a transitional phase of their lives, and we know that many of them are at home. They are highly connected people and it’s very likely that they are engaged with technology.”
HEC currently offers a program that allows crane operators to be trained in a short six-week period. After the completion of the program, 83 percent of them are successfully placed directly into job positions.
Manitowoc’s Crane Control Functions:Manitowoc Cranes
- All commands are launched from joysticks, and a jog dial provides easy on-screen navigation.
- The speed limiter function improves control and accuracy by adjusting the speed in increments.
- Customization is available to all crane operators — speed and dynamic settings.
- The redundant sensor design monitors and controls all crane movements and other factors.
- The system provides analysis that allows maximization of crane operations.
Information provided by Manitowoc Cranes and edited by Chantal Zimmermann.