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Position Partners: Machine control key to attracting workers

Position Partners is helping operators keep up to date with the latest technologies and best practice.

Technology is proving to be a key driver for attracting employees to address industry skills shortages. Representatives from Position Partners explain why and how.

Machine control – the automation of heavy earthmoving equipment – is key to attracting workers and addressing the skills shortage in construction, according to decision makers surveyed in a report by Topcon Positioning Systems in Europe. 

Three-quarters (77 per cent) of those surveyed in the report – which polled 1000 decision makers in construction companies across Europe – agree that machine control is a top solution to attracting the best talent to the industry.  

With many experienced machinery operators approaching retirement, and the construction sector failing to attract the next generation, there is a growing skills gap in the industry. Thirty per cent of respondents to the survey agree that skills shortages are one of the biggest challenges they face on earthworks projects alone. 

The report suggests that only universal change will have a meaningful impact on increasing the sustainability and productivity of construction machinery.
The report suggests that only universal change will have a meaningful impact on increasing the sustainability and productivity of construction machinery.

Topcon’s Luc Le Maire, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the positioning solutions business unit in EMEA, says the report set out to establish a greater understanding of the sectors progress.

“With our new report, The Future of Machine Control, we set out to build a picture of machine control from the point of view of those in the position to implement it,” he says.

“We surveyed 1000 Managers, Directors and Business Owners from construction companies across Europe to find out how they’re currently using machine control, their understanding of the benefits, what they believe to be the barriers to adoption, and their predictions for its future.”

As well as addressing the battle for talent, respondents in Topcon’s report believe machine control may be the answer to making the sector more sustainable – a pressure felt by 30 per cent of those surveyed. 


 

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When asked which factors they thought would be most important in helping to meet sustainability targets, machine control was the most selected option, alongside improving supply chains. Sustainability was also chosen as one of the top three perceived benefits of machine control, together with improving accuracy and efficiency. 

Despite overwhelming agreement that automation is a significant tool for closing the skills gap and creating a greener future, its use on construction projects across Europe remains limited. 

According to the report, machine control is currently used on just a third (34 per cent) of construction projects, with most respondents (72 per cent) using the technology on less than half of their projects and just one per cent using it without exception. 

Josh Allan, Civil Business Executive Manager for Topcon’s exclusive distributor Position Partners, says the report findings are indicative of Australia’s innovation and commitment to equipment development.

“Australia has always been an early adopter of technology, with widespread adoption of machine control, particularly on major projects where it is a prerequisite for final trim work on almost every site,” Allan says. 

“That said, there is still a great reliance on traditional methods using stringiness, grade checkers and tape measures on the majority of construction sites in this country that aren’t major infrastructure projects.

The Future of Machine Control report paints an accurate picture for the sector’s progress towards accelerating sustainability.
The Future of Machine Control report paints an accurate picture for the sector’s progress towards accelerating sustainability.

“Contractors are feeling the strain of the skills shortage we are experiencing around the world. Technology can address this problem by attracting the best workers and making contractors more productive.” 

Le Maire adds that universal change is required in order to make an impact. 

“What the research has revealed is that the industry is waking up to the power of automation in driving the sector forward. What’s evident is that if we want to make positive change – attract the next generation of talent, meet net zero targets, be more profitable – we cannot do so in isolation,” he says.

“If we’re to realise the full potential of machine control and do what’s right for the industry, a commitment is required across the board.” 

To read the full report, click here or contact Position Partners on 1300 867 266. 

This article was originally published in the October edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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