Heavy Construction Machinery Essay, Research Paper
SUBJECT: What is changing in the technology of heavy construction machinery?
In being one of the leaders in the construction industry, it is our duty to keep up with and push ourselves in acquiring upcoming technology. As per your request on the topic, we have created a team to not only acknowledge some of the possibilities we may be faced with in the future, but to assess the causes and effects of the technology advancement.
As one of the nation s top contractors, we know first hand the importance that quality equipment plays in the completion of projects and percentage of profits retained from those projects. One vital piece of machinery that is not functioning properly can effortlessly place a job behind schedule and behind budget. And so it is easy to understand how any possible progression of equipment science could be of great importance to the company. In this report, we want to focus on two links stemming from the subject of construction equipment technology. The first point being, theoretical causes for technology advancement and the second point being, conceptual ideas currently in the works.
In our research, we found that concrete findings were rare and few between, being that much of this subject is speculation or napkin design ideas. However; with all that our society is accomplishing and inventing everyday, it is easy to visualize the possibilities that we may be looking forward to in the coming years.
Causes: Some theoretical explanations
There is no exact, scientific reason for which manufactures are looking to the future of construction machinery and seeing the equipment being run by computers, not operators. But there are some theoretical reasons why.
To begin with, there is currently a shortage of skilled operators being felt by many companies; including ours. Along with this shortage of skilled operators, follows a shortage of skilled repair technicians to fix any malfunctioned machinery. The reason for this is that the present skilled labor coming into our work force is more educated . Therefore; they are more technical in most respects, and less interested in operated machinery then in controlling it. One reasons for this effect is thought to be due in part to the reality that kids in recent decades were not brought up playing with their toy trucks in the dirt outside, but with computer and video games. Each new generation is raised with a greater knowledge and understanding of technology, what its possibilities are and what it can do for them. So future skilled labor will be of a different sort. They will not be willing to relocate from project site to projects site every several months or work sixteen hour days in the hot sun. As a consequence, smart machines will then be required to perform many tasks without an operator, but though the direction of a computer system controlled by someone in an office perhaps hundreds of miles away from the job site.
Another abstract reason is due in part to society as a whole. Society expects things to be done faster and better than the day before. Despite improvements in methodologies, most construction projects take quite a bit of time to complete. Take for example your average highway. Most major highway construction jobs comfortably take between two to four years of scheduled completion time. Now anyone who has ever driven though a large city, such as Dallas or Houston, knows how long those two to fours years can feel and what problems they can create. No one want to drive through years of traffics jams, routed detours and the all to frequent fender bender. You have citizens just about screaming to get the job done. Improvements in the technology of construction equipment may not shave off years of a project, but it will definitely shorted its completion time. And the sooner a project is finished, the better. For us and its users.
Lastly, people are continuingly asking themselves, How can we make life easier? Why work outside in the hot sun on hot machinery, when one could work in an air-conditioned office in front of a computer. As briefly stated previously, many construction workers currently work the occasional sixteen hour day and more often than not, well above the standard eight hour day. This puts an extreme hardship on themselves and their families. The other hardship is that fact that most operators move at least once a year, relocating where the newest project is beginning. With some of the conceptual ideas already being worked on, these two hardships could in fact become non-existence. Computer operators would be able to work out of one main office and not need to move to the project sites, allowing them to work shorter hours because alternating shifts would be easier.
Conceptual ideas and designs
Some computerized systems do presently exist in many machines, which greatly aid the machine operators, but an operator is still required to run the equipment. However; it is thought by some researchers that operators may some day even become obsolete. The next step in the progression of advanced technology is what is known as a work cell methodology. This concept is used in many of today s automated manufacturing factories. Through this system, one operator is stationed at a main station on one of the construction machinery. From this station they will be able to operate up to two or three other machines within close proximity besides the one he is stationed on. In order to achieve this, all the machines must have enough sensing and automated-control capability to function autonomously for short periods of time.
So then, what is next in line for the future? It would appear that making the operator altogether obsolete would be the next step. Now close your eyes and use your creativity to envision the possibilities. Many people in the industry are envisioning equipment run solely through the use of a high-tech computer system. Caterpiller s advance concepts manager, Tom Muller, calls this machines of the future Electro-X . Electro-X being a term he created meaning electronically controlled, electro-mechanical, electro-hydraulic, etc. As Muller states, tomorrow s machines must be smarter if they are to be easier to operate, but just as productive. These future machines will be preprogrammed to complete certain tasks within a project and perhaps also be programmed to self-teach themselves other tasks within their function capabilities. With this programming, the computer can then be run from a central location, possibly hundreds of miles away from the job site. And what about incorporating a function that is currently on just about every modern day copy machine. Adding sensors on the equipment will allow the computer to self-run tests and pin point any probable malfunctions that it could be experiencing. Much like a copier does when there is a paper jam within itself. It locates the paper jam and displays the area on a screen showing a schematic of itself, to let the user or repair technician know where the problem is. The machinery will be able to locate glitches and then report them back to the central computer system controlling it or a qualified technician. All this could be possible without an operator ever having stepped onto the project area.
Since people have been envisioning the possibilities, what do they envision them to look like? A Mr. Bob Briggs, Caterpillar s manager of industrial design in Peoria, has begun developing sketches for what he feels will be the future of Caterpillar s machines.
It is our conclusion that the current equipment and methodologies we currently use may be what disadvantages us one day. To continue being one of the top competitors in our field, we must begin integrating all currently available computer technology into our present machinery and continue to increase our technology base as the inventions within our industry continue to advance. One only has to imagine the possibilities the future may have in store for our field. The accuracy in which tasks and projects will be completed will increase. Human error, including those which cause injury or death, may become non-existent due to there being a decrease in the number of man crews which will be required to perform tasks and operate equipment. Crews could easily be cut by fifty percent of the current numbers need out on job sites. And imagine the speed and efficiency jobs could be completed at. Without the need for laborers to take breaks or end shifts, projects schedules could be drastically reduced. Technology is what makes our economy and lives go round nowadays. If we fail to realize the impact it currently has on or industry and the impacts it will definitely have on us in the future, we could be left standing in the dirt.