Dirt-Boss Vol. 1

As Dirt-Boss loves listening to views and opinions, he's the perfect man to listen to operators all over the UK.
As Dirt-Boss loves listening to views and opinions, he's the perfect man to listen to operators all over the UK.

We found Dirt-Boss in a quarry driving aimlessly around in his Ford Ranger pick-up. Rolled up cigarette hanging from his lips and AC/DC blasting out from his stereo. He told us that he was responsible for all the movement of the dump-trucks and diggers on the job We asked him what was the toughest part of his job? “Oh, the whinging is non-stop here mate, these operators would win gold if whinging was an Olympic sport”. Surely, he must be mistaken? No-one whinges in the plant industry, we all lobe the job so much. “You would think that mate, but these lads here can give me the right hump, cab is too cold, cab is too hot, not enough power, management haven’t a clue, it is endless, but I put up with it, all part of the job, I love it really” he said. This gave us an idea back in the office (caravan). If Dirt-Boss loved listening to views and opinions wouldn’t he be the perfect man to listen to operators all over the UK. So, we signed him up and here is the first concern raised with him.

Dirt-Boss listened to Dave from the Wirral

‘There is a lot of talk between us operators now about the massive influx of automation and technology working its way into today’s construction industry, ranging from the simple telematics and finger print entrances to the fully automated excavators and spider style cranes we are seeing more and more on sites today. We have lots of contractors suddenly just switching to digital, now all the machines have GPS fitted, where as last week we were setting out pegs and batter rails with chain boys and engineers, now we are uploading models through the cloud. It seems to me although on most occasions these items are generally received on sites as a new gimmick or tool to do a job that might have otherwise been physically demanding or something that no one practically wanted to do, like pecking out some concrete for hours on end with a compressor and chisel.But what we think on face value is a helpful addition, what is happening behind the scenes in the operator community is far worse, I feel as an operator this industry is changing.Lets just look at the operator for a minute, most of the guys I know are operators for a reason, I mean if we learnt a bit more at school we would probably be engineers or data analysists or even fat cat bankers, but we are not. Most of us struggle with the simple things like basic literature and maths, even doing the time sheet on Friday is hard enough, although we make the best machine drivers and could most likely thread the eye of a needle with a 40t machine. My problem is this! You have manufacturers spending millions in the arms race that is automation to see who can be the first to create a machine that can dig a footing or even build a house. Millions on making the machines we do have more fuel efficient, Hybrids turning up everywhere. All this is great for the environment but what about us! The guys who are expected to sit in the seat all day, who is looking to invest in us and make us more efficient?, I mean a company will spend millions on design, same again on infrastructure, thousands on managers and get all the latest kit on the site and the one key safety critical worker, who has the power in his hands to make or break the job, is fighting a battle to earn just a little more that the 16 year old stacking shelves in Tesco’s, no wonder no one is coming into the industry, Just my opinion, but something needs to be done to help the guys operating the machine, these guys don’t hate technology they just don’t know how to use it, if only there was a government movement set up to help protect a dying breed and upskill some of the operators in the UK.Operators would love to embrace the technology and grow with it, but to not having the knowledge most are just opposing it, slating it and making it hard for people to bring it into the construction sites, its because we feel hard done by. An operator with the knowledge is a powerful thing and could make your site a lot more efficient. Thanks Dave.