The importance of high-end machinery in the field for an excavation project cannot be overstated, but there is still the need for a qualified human touch to do the job right.
Site development, whether for the oil industry, commercial planning or underground utilities, is a complex task that requires a lot of high end technology to manage the site development project, from beginning to end.
GPS with machine monitoring, 3D imaging, real time data transfer… these are just a few of the technological points that we leverage in our day to day project management, to ensure a quality result. However, there is another very important point in operations that sometimes gets overlooked: the human element.
From estimating through project management and completion, having the right team, supported by the right technology, is top priority.
Technology is the tool – humans make it work
The human element in any project is expensive, so ensuring that we use available data to move equipment and people into place ‘just in time’ is essential.
A great example of how technology supports the human effort is the 3D imaging application that we use called SmartDirt. This application allows an estimator to create a 3D model of a project, based on the 2D CAD plans, and transfer the resulting data to the operators in the field. Anyone on the project who has access to a smart device, including equipment operators, formen and grade checkers, can leverage real time data for accurate and knowledgeable on the spot decisions. The ability to also add data to the model and share that with the entire team, whether on site or back at the home office, ensures that everyone who needs to be is being kept up to date, enabling accurate decision making and just in time equipment movement, saving time and costs for any project.
Another example is using GPS automation in the field to avoid costly errors and rework. When machines are connected, and the data flow is being monitored, decisions can be made faster: “A 3D design created in the office can be sent to the machine operator for faster, more precise grading and earthmoving. Additionally, the machine can be used for volume measurements, so expensive measurements by grade checkers occur less frequently. Drive time and rework are also minimized, as both the office and machines in the field are kept up-to-date with the latest information.” (SOURCE)
A more analog based system will inevitably mean delays in obtaining information and reacting to it. Instead, technology can provide the ability for the decision makers to be proactive in their planning, anticipating issues that they might not have otherwise been able to visualize.
The value of the ‘competent person’
The ability to work proactively in any field, but in particular within the realm of excavating, requires one important element: experience. Technology will only take you so far: experience counts for a lot. You need operators who not only have knowledge but who are familiar with a variety of challenges and circumstances to ensure that they implement the technology accurately.
From accurate estimating to efficient project management, with data transferred to and from machines, with output being monitored and adjusted, a highly qualified individual who can find and leverage insights needs to be on the receiving end of the aggregated data.
Every project is different, presenting its own unique set of challenges. Automation of some information and tasks might be possible but ultimately, it’s the human touch that can take a project to completion, on time or even ahead of schedule and on budget. Ultimately, that’s the goal for any company and putting a lot of emphasis on the quality of the human element is what will get you there.