A heavy equipment operator can be many things, and their workday is very different, depending…
Technology is slowly changing the way we do things when it comes to heavy equipment and the construction industry. This technology is now allowing some heavy equipment machinery to do jobs that were in the past restricted to one particular type of machine. Laser grade control is a good example. In the past, if you wanted grading, you needed to use a grader. If you had a small area that was hard to access, then grading needed to be done by hand, and that can be quite labor intensive.
Laser grade control is a two dimensional system that uses laser beacons that are set up around the area to be graded. The technology uses those beacons as a guide, adjusting the blade settings on heavy equipment ‘on-the-fly’ – that is, moment by moment as required by the terrain. Graders make good use of this system, however, it is not restricted to graders. Smaller equipment such as skid steers can have the technology fitted, and they can fit in smaller areas.
Whilst that is a good example of how laser grade controls can be used, the reality now is that technology such as this is being incorporated into bigger machinery. There is the potential to make graders, for example, redundant, however, when it comes to long grading projects such as road building, you just can’t beat a dedicated piece of machinery like a grader – they are built for this task, and they do it extremely well.
Some construction projects will use this technology in a range of heavy equipment and whilst a grader will do the bulk of the grading work, other machinery with this technology will be used in support. This could help to speed up the completion time of many projects, a happy thought for construction companies. The latest in laser grade control is 3D, however, whilst more powerful, it does come with a much higher price tag.
What does this all mean to those who are considering a career in heavy equipment operations, particularly as a grader operator? Learning how to use laser grade control will become more important, and whilst graders will now compete for some jobs with other machinery, there will still be strong demand for grader operators. The key to being a successful heavy equipment operator is to become proficient on a range of machinery – you’ll never be out of work then.