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Why Versatile Machines Are a Better Choice on the Job

Becky Schultz
Chief Editor
Equipment Today Magazine


Why Versatile Machines Are a Better Choice on the Job

Expert Q&A - Mar 18

 What is driving the trend for machine versatility? What are the benefits?

There are a number of factors driving the trend for machine versatility. First and foremost is the requirement to do more with less. Given the ongoing shortage of skilled laborers and equipment operators, coupled with the costs associated with transporting and maintaining multiple machines on-site, contractors are demanding tools that can enable them to complete multiple aspects of a project or task with a single machine, either via attachments or added functionality built into the carrier.

Abbreviated project timelines and directives to implement “green” processes on many construction sites are also driving the need to utilize fewer machines to accomplish more aspects of a job. The benefits to the end user include enhanced efficiency, reduced capital investment, a smaller environmental footprint and, ultimately, more profit to the bottom line.

In addition to versatility, what other equipment features are important on a job site?

Some other key equipment features contractors value include fuel efficiency, reliability and maintainability. Despite current lower fuel prices, fuel continues to represent a substantial portion of fleet owning and operating costs. Contractors are seeking equipment that can help to minimize costs on individual projects and annual fuel expenses for their fleet.

Contractors are seeking equipment that can help to minimize costs on individual projects and annual fuel expenses for their fleet.

Equipment reliability ties into this objective. Uptime is crucial to maintain productivity and project timelines. Contractors require equipment and components that offer the durability and longevity needed to keep machines running productively for as long as possible, with minimal maintenance and downtime required to keep them in operation. When service is needed, troubleshooting must be easy to perform and service items and components must be readily accessible to ensure the equipment gets back in the field as quickly as possible.

How do you see the need for versatile equipment evolving on the job site?

Perhaps the biggest evolution in equipment today is in the form of electronics and the resulting data acquisition capabilities. Electronics built into current equipment models to ensure emissions compliance have also facilitated improved communications and management of machine operating systems. Consequently, manufacturers have been able to implement improved interaction between these systems and introduce expanded machine functionality and attachment capabilities as a result. In addition, they have introduced enhanced controls and monitors (with touch-screen capability in many cases), integrated production management tools, and incorporated equipment management/monitoring technology (telematics) – all of which enable the capture of operational data that can be used to more effectively manage logistics, maintenance and machine and operator productivity.

Also of note is the migration to alternative power sources and fuel supplies for equipment beyond the traditional gasoline or diesel engine. Manufacturers are exploring and beginning to implement hybrid technology that incorporates electric and battery-powered systems that minimize emissions output and dramatically cut fuel costs. In addition, alternative fuels have made significant headway as manufacturers probe the viability of biodiesel, ethanol, propane and other fueling options for their equipment, not only as a means to green construction fleets but to reduce fuel expense and again allow contractors to do more for and with less. The result is more options, and versatility, for construction contractors when it comes to their equipment choices.