The benefits of equipment technology — greater efficiency, more accuracy, less wasted fuel, a safer jobsite — far outweigh the upfront costs. Still, there are costs, and not every operation is in a position to make that kind of investment. If you’re one of them, does that mean you’re out of luck? Not at all. Here are three low-cost (even no-cost) ways to realize productivity gains with technology.
1. Ask for an assist
Putting GPS infrastructure in place for 3D grading or dozing can be costly. If that’s not an option for you right now, here’s some good news: Simpler, less expensive 2D systems — commonly called “assistance technologies” — deliver many of the same advantages. Consider adding:
- Automated blade control. On a dozer, the operator controls the height of the blade manually, but the technology steps in to maintain that angle while the machine moves over the ground. Similarly, on a motor grader, the system controls one end of the blade after the operator sets the target cross slope. It makes grading faster and more efficient with less rework and fuel.
- Automated bucket control. The same concept applies here, but on an excavator. When the bucket gets within a few inches of the target depth set by the operator, assist technology takes over, adjusting boom movement and bucket roll to maintain a constant bucket angle.
- Depth and slope guidance. Another assist feature for excavators, this system is like having a grade checker in the cab. It provides operators with real-time bucket positioning relative to desired grade, reducing the number of passes and cutting down on errors.
Loaders and haulers can get in on “assist” action, too, with onboard weighing systems tracking payloads in the cabs of wheel loaders, trucks and excavators — no more over-loading or under-loading.
2. Shift into work mode
Working at full power all shift long may sound like a great way to boost productivity, but you’ll likely just end up burning any gains in extra fuel. Not every job requires that much muscle. Instead, turn on your machine’s “smart” or “eco” mode and let it automatically match the amount of power required to the working conditions. (You always have the option to shift into “power” mode when you need maximum engine and hydraulic power for a tough digging or lifting job.) Most new machines come with work modes already built in — so you get the productivity benefits without spending extra dollars up front.
3. Listen to your data
Here’s another way to use technology to increase productivity: Pay attention to what your equipment’s data is telling you. Set up a free account on My.Cat.Com or download the free Cat® App and start looking for trends. Are certain machines sitting idle for too long? Move them to more productive tasks. Are certain operators generating more fault codes or burning more fuel? Give them additional training so they can work more productively. Could you be getting extra time between oil and filter changes? Stretch your maintenance intervals and keep machines working longer without downtime. You’ll find all that information — and more — in the data, and you don’t have to pay a penny to access it.
Start with these three strategies to boost productivity now — and to set yourself up for future success. Easing your way into technology builds comfort and credibility with your team. When you’re ready to make a bigger investment, they’ll be ready to help you get the most out of your dollars.