Digging with Dave-Episode 3

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A plant operator by trade, Dave has a wealth of experience at every level of operating and contracting across the construction sector.

In the previous two episodes we have looked at the preparation to dig, machine checks and some top tips when arriving on site.

Digging with Dave is produced with two intentions, the first is to help and support new starters in the industry to get off on the right foot, a digital mentor if you will, somewhere those awkward questions can be asked. The second is for more experienced operators, who want to look at the everyday on-site tasks and challenges, and just see how a fellow operator has approached and executed.

We don’t always have to agree as long as we are learning and developing. Dave has been thrilled with the response and positive feedback thus far from folk across the industry.
In this episode we are talking about grading, Dave has selected grading as the first digging topic, as when he completed his first CPCS task, at just 17, the instructor Dave had expressed how important a skill grading is…so this is where we start.

Firstly, what is grading…Grading is using the dipper arm and boom, in one motion, whilst keeping the blade of the bucket level when operational. According to Dave this is one of the hardest skills in operational terms to master. However, when you have mastered it, you will add real value on the projects and jobs you work on.
Watch the video as Dave demonstrates both in commentary and practically… so you can see exactly what he means. The reality is of course that all machines behave deferentially so ‘getting your head’ into it, and being at one with the machine you are operating is so important.

There are no shortcuts of fast passes to success this is all about practice, practice practice. Join Dave in the cab to get some top tips.

Once Dave is in the cab, he talks through what he is about to undertake, operating an Arnold Plant Hire, Takeuchi TB2150R.

The first task is a what is known by some in the trade as Mr Miyagi stuff…wax on wax off…You know from the Karate Kid.

Watch as Dave sets the machine to full revs, (as he has been operating this particular unit for a few days). The advice being however if you are new to the machine set the revs to 50% and take your time.

Extending the arm to full stretch Dave shows how to retract, keeping the bucket hovering above the ground, to the point where you feel comfortable. The demo goes on to show the same exercise from 90 degrees or half stick to full stick.

The insight continues to look at how, on hard ground, you can give the surface a scrape, bringing it through and tracking back. Pulling the loose material off, whilst not, critically lifting the machine as the bucket engages with the surface.

For the next part of the tutorial, Dave has moved to a section of the site that could benefit from a general tidy, a levelling up and grading, using the skills and technique mentioned earlier.

So, take a look at the video to see how the learnt skills can be applied, and don’t forget as Dave always says… check your surroundings, because a clean site and a tidy site is a safe site.

As Dave progresses with the tidying up on site, he mentions the terminology ‘Sealing In’, meaning, because of the climate in the UK, we can help to ensure that when it does rain, the material underneath stays intact.
Watch Dave engage the back of the bucket with the ground and pull with downforce the bucket towards the machine. Sealing In… it’s all grading.

Again, Dave reiterates that the cab does not want to be seen lifting, as if it does, all the control needed for an effective grade is lost.

For the final part of Digging with Dave part 3, Dave switches Takeuchi machines and is seen in a TB217R. This 1.7 tonne compact unit presents an opportunity for Dave to demonstrate why it is important to be able to grade on all sizes of machines.

Dave’s top tip, whilst operating this mini ex with an offset arm, is to set the boom up as offset also, so when the arm is outstretched, you can see the tips of the ditching bucket.

As the machine moves into place, Dave drops the blade to reduce any unwanted movement. As the demo continues Dave talks further about ensuring that you have dropped your blade, all to ensure that the bucket is level, critical when grading effectively.

At the end of episode 3 Dave concludes the adage that is as true today as it ever was, that practice makes perfect and of course Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork.

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