Pay big money for a project design only to have it be used incorrectly in the field? A new partnership between CM Labs and Trimble aims to provide operators with realistic training on grade control technology.
Launched at The Utility Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, the excavator simulation integration allows training organizations to provide operators of all experience levels access to technology on the modern job site.
The Trimble Earthworks for Excavators software works in parallel with CM Lab’s Vortex Studio software and runs on a tablet, which the user can connect to the simulator. Visual aids are overlaid onto the existing ground along with cut/fill information, slope data and other customizable reference points to provide the user with a better understanding of the work that needs to be done.
“To a user, this will look exactly like the Trimble application, but it’s going to be fed by what they’re doing in the simulation,” said Yannick Lefebvre, technical sales manager, CM Labs. “They can go into Earthworks, program the depth that they want to work at, and know when they are going over a hidden utility line – all of that comes into play.”
A variety of configurable views makes it easier to obtain the right perspective for maximum training value. The integration allows users to get familiar with technology without making costly errors in the field. “We’d like you to make the mistakes here. We’d like you to play with the design here,” said Gary James, training instructor/SimGuide specialist, CM Labs. “When you go to a job site, you’re ready to go. You understand exactly how to build a design, follow a map and customize offsets.”
But training isn’t the only use for the simulators. The system can also serve as a company’s first line of defense against bad hires. “It’s the fake it until you make it world we’re trying to get rid of,” said James. “We want guys and girls to go home at the end of the night. The money is not worth anybody’s life. It’s all about safety.”
Trimble Earthworks is available as an add-on with CM Labs’ Excavator Training Pack and will be expanded to other earthmoving modules. The software is compatible with all of CM Labs’ Vortex Simulators.
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The industry’s inventory woes may have gotten even more pronounced as Deere & Company’s 10,000 UAW workers declared a strike at midnight Oct. 14th.
It is the first major strike at the company since 1986, says The Courier, based in Waterloo, Iowa, where Deere has several plants including its agricultural tractor and engine works. About 90% of UAW members rejected Deere’s latest offer on Oct. 10th. (UAW provided its members with outlined contract changes on Oct. 7th, shown here.) The 1986 strike lasted more than 5 months.
“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” says Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America’s (UAW) Agricultural Implement Department. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”
“John Deere is committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities and everyone involved,” says Brad Morris, Deere’s vice president for labor relations. “We are determined to reach an agreement with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the agriculture and construction industries.”
Morris adds: “We will keep working day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike, while also keeping our operations running for the benefit of all those we serve.”
good time to strike?
Unions know they are in a good position to press for favorable changes in today’s tight labor market and in the face of increasing demand.
In its Q3 earnings report, John Stone, president of Deere’s Construction & Forestry Division said, “Demand for earthmoving and compact construction equipment will exceed our production for the year, resulting in low inventory levels as we exit the fiscal year,”
UAW President Ray Curry notes that “UAW John Deere members have worked through the pandemic after the company deemed them essential, to produce the equipment that feeds America, builds America and powers the American economy. These essential UAW workers are showing us all that through the power of a strong united union voice on the picket line they can make a difference for working families here and throughout the country.”
Picket lines have been set up outside Deere plants in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas. Deere says it has activated its “Customer Service Continuation Plan,” in which “employees and others will be entering our factories daily to keep our operations running. Our immediate concern is meeting the needs of our customers, who work in time-sensitive and critical industries such as agriculture and construction.”
The Courier says Deere’s six-year offer would have raised wages by 20% over the life of the contract and also increased some benefits. The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, where the company’s massive Dubuque Works is located, reported that Deere’s offer would have raised a typical production employees salary from $33 an hour to nearly $40 an hour over the six-year contract.
Other OEMs likely are paying close attention to strike outcome. CNH Industrial and UAW negotiated their current six-year agreement in 2016. The current Caterpillar/UAW contract runs through 2023.
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