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COMFORT & PRODUCTIVITY FEATURES MAY BE THE BEST WAY TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN GOOD OPERATORS

In a recent industry-wide survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction employers reported they had added 23,000 jobs in September 2016, the highest level since the end of 2008 amid strong demand for construction services. Beyond wages, what types of incentives are drawing the best workers to construction companies? Several equipment manufacturers point to the advanced design of operator environments.

Some of the advancements that have been made over the last decade to enhance operator comfort and boost productivity include:

Skilled operators have the luxury of being able to shop companies and equipment, so thinking about how your fleet stacks up may give you an edge when it comes to recruitment and retention.

Visibility to the Worksite
Heavy equipment manufacturers have made numerous cab adjustments to improve overall visibility on jobsites. Improvements for excavators, for example, include front windows that allow a better view overhead as well as to attachments and the ground. New cab technologies also offer rear and side cameras so that even in tight quarters, operators have line of sight to other equipment and workers. Even truck design has been upgraded with camera technologies, sloped hoods and additional mirrors for better side views. Operators who are not constantly bending and straining to see around them experience less physical fatigue and reduced stress, with greater efficiency and productivity as a result. Operators who can continuously upgrade their performance and feel good about their work are more likely to stay in your employ.

More Efficient Operator Work Space
Advances in display technologies give operators the ability to review and adjust settings and reduce machine failures. Some manufacturers offer a split-screen mode that can display machine information and the rearview camera screen simultaneously. The quality of onboard screens and dashboards can be as enticing in heavy equipment as they are to operators in their cars or trucks. When you’re looking to buy, lease or rent equipment, working operator preferences into your equipment specs can be a good way to reward and keep good operators. 

Upgraded Cab Comfort
Because operators often work more than 10 hours a day, comfort has truly become king. Enclosed, pressurized cabs that keep out unwanted dust and debris and reduce noise are becoming industry standard. Advanced climate control—once considered a luxury option—are now offered standard. Air suspension seats that adjust to operator preferences add to productive operation and physical comfort. Some companies actually promote comfort features in their equipment in their recruiting and employment communications.

Advancements in Ergonomics
While joystick controls have been used in heavy equipment for some time, the responsiveness and functionality of the controls have steadily improved. One—switch controls have been upgraded to multiple buttons, controlled by either a finger or thumb, on each joystick not unlike video controllers. As young operators enter the construction workforce, fleets with this type of equipment can be a strong selling feature for your company. Similarly, investing in these types of features can be one way to keep the most skilled operators on your team.

Talk to your Cat® dealer about incorporating operator features that will deliver more value to your operation.