A Cat 299D3 compact tracked loader equipped with Trimble 2D Laser guided technology demonstrated with the assistance of representatives from H.O. Penn and Sitech Metro Northeast.
We have all attended the traditional dealer open houses. They all pretty much have the same cookie-cutter feel — barbecue, refreshments, equipment demonstrations, factory reps, small equipment displays, maybe 50 to 150 people in attendance. A very social event.
If perhaps you came to seriously get the feel or some seat time with a piece of equipment, you may end up waiting in line, have very little time to talk to the product specialist, end up putting a basketball into a bucket with the excavator and after about five minutes of seat time get pushed on to the next machine. We've all experienced it.
According to John Murphy, marketing manager at H.O. Penn Machinery, that's exactly why they came up with their "Can You Dig It" events.
"We wanted to give our current customers and some potential customers the opportunity to get some quality seat time and one-on-one training from our equipment professionals in an atmosphere where they are not hurried and everyone involved is respectful of the importance of their time."
With all of that in mind, during the month of September H.O. Penn Machinery held multi-day "Can You Dig It" events at three of its branch locations: Newington, Conn., Bloomingburg, N.Y., and Holtsville, Long Island, N.Y. At each of these events, attendees were given a one-hour time slot where they were provided dedicated stick time on a Caterpillar 320 excavator, D3 dozer and a 289D3 compact track loader outfitted with a GB124 Smart Grader blade. Each machine was set up to demonstrate the latest Grade Control technology and had available to the operator a training expert from Caterpillar and a technical advisor from Sitech Metro Northeast/Trimble; truly a unique experience.
Over the last decade, the advancements in technology for earthmoving equipment have been faster than any other time in history. Those advancements have manifested themselves primarily in the area of GPS technology.
According to H.O. Penn's Martin Callahan, the primary focus of the "Can You Dig It" event was to keep customers abreast of the latest advancements.
"Today's contractor has to be fully engaged with technology. His ability to reach maximum productivity and profitability hinges entirely on his engagement with technology, and how it overlays and interacts with their customer's needs.
"Today's building contractor is feeding our customer, the site contractor, a different set of specifications than he did 20 years ago. At times there is virtually no paper, no blueprints; it's all digital, and it's all engineered down to the millimeter. The production costs, time and materials are all critically tied down to pinpoint accuracy, and that's where Caterpillar, Sitech and GPS technology shine.
"When this technology was first being introduced into our marketplace large dozers were sort of the sweet spot where GPS technology was being utilized. Today we are seeing it in the compact dozer market, the excavator market and even the skid steer/compact tracked loader market."
Speaking to GPS's application in the excavator market, H.O. Penn's Scott Cortright added, "In today's job site when making a significant cut, stakes are no longer necessary, along with the bother of them getting in the way or constantly having to be moved. With GPS technology, the excavator knows exactly where it is in relation to the cut that needs to be made. No more walking around the site all day tying up valuable labor with a transit."
At the "Can You Dig It" event customers were given seat time in a Cat 320 excavator.
"The machine that customers are getting seat time in is factory equipped with Cat GRADE 2D with assist," John Surreira of H.O. Penn said. "This demonstration is set up to show just how much they can do with just 2D and that the 3D technology is not always necessary.
"With 2D, you can maintain digging depth and grade control. If you would like to dig 3-feet down and maintain a 2-percent grade, the standard 2D technology will allow you to do that. This Cat 320 also comes with standard payload features. The excavator has a scale that works much like our loader scale; you can weigh each bucket load and at the end of the day know exactly how much material you have moved or weigh each load into a truck and know that you have never overloaded it.
"The capabilities of this technology are amazing, and a lot of our customer operators are just scratching the surface of what they are able to do with this equipment. Another part of what we are doing today is expanding the learning curve. It's like that i-Phone that you had for a couple of years, but one day someone shows you a new app or a new feature that isn't necessarily new, you just never noticed or needed it, and once you find out it's there you can't imagine how you lived without it."
Callahan added: "One of the key reasons we have tracked loaders with GPS technology at this event is GPS grading tools. A contractor may have a 2 percent grade spec to meet and, again, the GPS technology will allow the tracked loader with the proper attachments to achieve exactly that grade without the use of a surveyor and stakes. Much quicker with a lot less labor."
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