According to the National Safety Council, fatigued worker productivity costs USA employers between $1,200 and $3,100 every year. In the construction industry, which places significant physical stress onto workers, the numbers are likely to be considerably higher. Increasingly, construction companies are looking for ways to get the most out of their workforce without tiring them out. Dave Bigham, global director of training at surface preparation equipment manufacturer National Flooring Equipment, highlights some of the key benefits to equipment maneuverability.
Flooring contractors typically spend their days lugging round huge, heavy machines weighing up to 500 pounds. This physically challenging job requires skill, strength, and determination, but there are ways to make it easier for operators.
Enter, maneuverability. Essentially, this refers to how easy it is for the contractor to operate, transport, and load or unload a machine. It can not only improve machine performance, but operator safety and well-being, acting as a significant driver to long-term productivity.
Some level of maneuverability is needed in any setting to effectively remove flooring, but there are spaces where the value of maneuverability is seen more. If a contractor is working on a large space made up of smaller units, such as a hotel building or a school, continuously moving a heavy machine around from room to room, and storey to storey, requires significantly more energy from the machine operator than continuously operating in one larger location. If contractors are unable to move the machine throughout the area, they may be forced to finish the job using manual tools, which is inefficient and even more tiring.
A difficult-to-transport machine can also cause serious safety concerns. For example, if contractors attempt to use elevators despite their machinery exceeding the maximum limit, which risks not only the mechanisms of the lift, but their own safety. The other option would be attempting to manually lift the machine up and down stairs, which may lead to cause musculoskeletal problems and risks damage to the machine if dropped.
If contractors are working on small spaces or areas where machines need to be easily transported up and down stairs, a machine that maneuvers around tight corners is highly valued. Machines with removable weights are also popular for these jobs, to make it easier for contractors to transport around a jobsite without excessive force.
A MANEUVERABLE MACHINE
There are a range of factors that determine whether a machine is maneuverable, and these can be split into two main areas. First are features that make job completion more efficient, such as rear-view mirrors and windshield wipers for optimal visibility in ride-in machines. Flexible adjustment of blade pitch and angle, precision steering, increased travel speed, and user-friendly control systems are other helpful features to look out for. These features often improve accessibility, meaning that operators can easily find all of the controls they need and learn how to use the machine much faster.
The other side is operator comfort. This covers anything that reduces operator input, from simplified controls, removeable machine weight for easy transportation and handle toggles for directing the machine to cup holders, noise reduction, and foot bars. National’s latest machines, Viking and Rogue have both been specifically designed to offer operators more maneuverability than before, taking real customer feedback and using that during the development stages. Interestingly, some newer machines to the market offer the benefits of larger, heavy-duty systems, while bringing in the maneuverability features of smaller systems, giving contractors another string to their bow.
Added maneuverability allows for easier load in and out of transport, particularly in areas where there are multiple floors. Features like added machine control give operators the ability to reduce head pressure based on the strength of the concrete underneath to avoid damaging its surface.
With businesses losing thousands every year due to worker fatigue, it is time operators had machines designed with their comfort in mind. Looking out for the features of a maneuverable machine is a great place to start in improving efficiency, safety, and productivity.
About the Author:
Founded in 1968, National Flooring Equipment designs and manufactures quality flooring equipment and supports it with unparalleled customer service. Almost five decades later, National’s commitment to these key principles remains as strong as the day the company began. At National Flooring Equipment, operator comfort is always a priority. Try out the latest walk-behind, the Rogue, visit nationalequipmentdirect.com/products/rogue/.
Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2023
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