Asphalt Training Schools in 2020
BY John Ball
Your peers continue to place a priority on training. The recent Paving Professionals Workshops at Roadtec in Chattanooga were sold out, as happens every year. All four sessions had some repeat customers sending new hires, of course, but out of the four sessions, we had more new people this year than in the past five years. Also, we had more folks who have only been paving one to five years than I’ve seen at the workshops before.
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Companies out here recognize how important it is to teach the basic—as well as the fine tuning—skills to equipment operators. You can’t just go into automatics and advanced technology without knowing the basics.
Your competition in the field is showing operators the theory behind automation, and then showing them how to run automation.
It’s smart to do classroom training first before you send a worker into the field where the heat is on and someone’s possibly yelling at them.
In the classroom, they can learn the theory, the what and the why behind paving (and rolling). Knowing the reasons for setting the depth crank, the paving speed, the paving width and so on plays a part in developing a top quality worker.
Check out our online, video-based training course, Asphalt Paving 101.
To help contractors teach these vital steps, I worked with AsphaltPro to create an asphalt paving training course that you can show to your new workers—or your veteran workers—in a classroom setting or out in the field. I encourage you to check out the previews for the Asphalt Paving 101 under the training tab at AsphaltPro.com so you can see the kind of basics and the kind of delivery we offer to the workers. It’s that method of training that can get a new worker started and can take the frustration out of his day.
When the classes at each Paving Professionals Workshop split into groups for electronics and automation training upstairs and screed/classroom training downstairs, I was surprised by how little the participants knew about the electronics. But if you think about it, we as an industry haven’t given the new guys enough time with it.
As an industry, we’ve got to broaden our horizons. We can’t allow operators—whether they’re a veteran operator who knows how to nudge a switch to dial in perfect slope or not—to ignore or turn off the automation just because they haven’t become comfortable with it. We can’t allow them to fail. They want to work easier, with less stress, with less guessing and more confidence. We can help them if we show them why the automation needs to be set a certain way, and the show them how to set it. We can give them confidence if we explain why slope matters, and then show them how to set it. And so on.
Let’s get workers comfortable with the use of the microprocessors and computers onboard paving equipment. As managers and foremen, it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re offering the operators the opportunity to learn. If the OEM’s dealer doesn’t know how to run the automation, then find someone who does and bring that person to your crew to train the workers until they become proficient in it.
Make sure your employees use the tools—such as automation—that you’ve paid good money for. Those tools are designed to improve pavement performance and bring you ride spec and bonuses. They’re doing none of those things if your workers are uncomfortable using them.
John Ball is the proprietor of Top Quality Paving and Training, Manchester, New Hampshire. He provides personal, on-site paving consulting services around the United States and into Canada. For more information, contact him at (603) 493-1458 or email@example.com.