We sat down with Channel Manager Joe Steiger to talk about why people put scales on heavy machinery and what advantages Trimble LOADRITE scales provide.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do for Trimble LOADRITE?
Sure! I am the sales channel manager for Trimble LOADRITE Eastern North America. So, we have three dealers in Canada, I cover two of those: Silver Top and All Weigh which serve everyone from Manitoba to the Atlantic, and then all the eastern U.S. LOADRITE dealers. They serve everyone East of the Mississippi and a little west of the river as well.
As a channel manager, my job is sales support for our LOADRITE dealers. That means doing sales development calls, submitting discounts, warranties, doing ride-a-longs, corporate visits, updating websites, and basically anything to help support dealer sales.
I was with LOADRITE when it was still an independent company out of New Zealand and then about six years ago it was purchased by Trimble. So, I’ve been a Trimble employee for six, but I’ve been with LOADRITE for about eight years.
Can we get a little history on LOADRITE?
Loadrite started over 30 years ago in Auckland New Zealand. Two engineers literally got together in a garage and started putting together some components to do on-board weighing. They used a hydraulic pressure transducer and some position sensors so they knew where the boom arm was moving and those guys figured out a way to come up with an algorithm to display, up in the cab, what the weight was. They built one of the earliest versions of the Loader scale. That would have been around 1976 or 1977. There were a couple of other companies which came out with Loader scales around the same time, but it’s hard to tell who exactly was the first.
What are some of the advantages in having a scale on your machine?
The very first thing that comes to my mind is the data that comes off the scale is used by multiple people. It’s used first by the machine operator. He gets his daily, hourly, and minute by minute KPI’s. He gets feedback immediately by seeing what the weight of that bucket is. So, that’s great, and he can use that information to make sure he achieves his whatever benchmark was set.
As you move up the food chain you have supervisors, managers, and superintendents. Those people can get weekly, daily, and hourly reports. They can see what’s happening with the processes they have in place. So, a supervisor might have two or three pit-loaders and they can see what’s happening with all three machines.
The third layer is the folks that are doing process improvement and financial analysis. Those guys all the way from upper level management to performance improvement people can also start looking at that data. An example might be a someone wanting to check maintenance on the machines and see how many lifts the machine is performing.
So, the obvious implication is the operator of the machine can improve their performance, but the fact of the matter is that this payload data affects a lot of different people all the way up and down the food chain. That’s the biggest advantage of having a scale. It’s that no matter what you are charged with doing in an operation, you can use the data to monitor and improve your end of things.
If I have one scale on one machine how much money, on average, am I saving?
You know, one of our dealers always uses this example: You have an hour gauge, a fuel gauge, a hydraulic pressure gauge, but you don’t have a weight gauge on your machine until you put a scale on it. Because they were not measuring before, we don’t have a good basis to give an exact ROI since we don’t know what their previous performance was. That being said, we can easily say 5% to 15% improvement.
We did do one study for an excavator application. This was a 24-hour mine site. They had two different operators on two 10-hour shifts. The daytime operator would load 3 buckets into a big mining haul truck. The nighttime operator would take 4 buckets to fill the same truck. This had never been recorded before.
After we put a scale on, upper management found this out and were very upset at the nighttime operator for taking four passes. Come to find out, once we started digging into the data more, the nighttime operator was actually faster and more efficient than the daytime operator. The daytime operator had to dig really hard and stress the machine out to get three full buckets. Whereas the nighttime operator did four very fast pretty full buckets. And so, he was faster, more efficient and wasn’t as hard on the machine. So, they had the daytime operator switch to a four-pass operation similar to the nighttime operator.
There are all these great anecdotal stories I could tell you about how it’s changed the way people are doing things, but until you put a scale on and get your first measurement, you can’t make any improvements.
Why choose LOADRITE, aren’t there other scales out there?
Two things, we feel like we have made THE top of the line hardware. The product itself is the industry standard meter in accuracy and dependability. The other thing is a great dealer network that supports these products. Our dealer network can literally touch every part of the globe from the arctic circle to the tropics. Now, we’re not always the cheapest, but when you build the absolute best product supported by the very best people you get something worth investing in.
How did LOADRITE become part of Trimble and what are some of the advantages this has brought to the brand?
It was about 6 or 7 years ago. Before that LOADRITE was an independent New Zealand company. I think one of the main factors was Trimble had limited technology in the mining and quarry industries, but they had everything in their tool bag to process products that came out of a quarry. So, they wanted to leverage that vertical market of the rock coming out of the quarry, being processed, delivery to the construction site, and built into some sort of way of building or other major infrastructure.
One of the new products LOADRITE was just introducing was the X-Weigh, excavator payload system. This was groundbreaking, no one else had that product and that fit nicely in with Trimble’s other dealers.
So those were two big advantages for Trimble, they got a company that had an excavator scale and was in the quarry and aggregates business as an industry leader. This really sets Trimble apart from its competitors.
We have many advantages now that we are part of Trimble. Just a couple weeks ago one of our Loadrite dealers leveraged the breadth of all the other Trimble technology to make a sale. The customer had the choice between two scale systems and knew that we were competitive on price and warranty. The customer ended up picking the Trimble Loadrite dealer because he was impressed with Trimble as a whole. He was already using other Trimble gear including their grade control on some of his construction machines, as well as some of their survey applications. He knows the technology doesn’t all talk together right now but he knows that’s where Trimble is going in the future. So, he has the advantage of less training issues, and less dealer issues because he’s working with dealers that are in the same family.
We’ve also gotten more resources for R&D. Trimble spends 17% of their annual budget on R&D. Most companies might only spend 10% on R&D Budget. We get some of those resources on the Loadrite side that we didn’t have before. This is partially to be able to integrate some of our products and software into the bigger picture and partially so we can use the marketing collateral
What are some new products you’ve been excited about from the Trimble LOADRITE line and why?
So, the newest product, which is still in the Beta, is Trimble Insight. It’s going to be the successor of InsightHQ. Trimble Insight is our web reporting tool, that’s where all the payload data goes and
can be viewed in near real-time. It’s going to make the ability to monitor what’s happening at a given site and give you actionable data. For example, if these product belts aren’t at a certain level, you’ll know there’s a problem with the crusher. Or if the crusher is a certain level, you’ll know there’s a problem at the pit so you can go investigate. The system is going to help employees make better faster decisions and help them in their daily performance.
Trimble Smart haul is a really good feature for any type of mass hauling quarry, or pit hauling operation. Right now, it only works with excavators but we’re going to be connecting it to wheel loaders soon. The system is a really powerful tool to manage not only payload, but cycle times of both the excavator and the truck that they’re loading. There’s a huge percentage of operating budgets that goes into the pit loaders and pit trucks, or excavators and loading fleets. With the Trimble Smart Haul platform, it allows Companies to optimize the payload that’s going in and minimize the cycle times that they’re turning those trucks around.
And then there is the E-Series which is the new waste platform. I’m pretty excited about getting into that industry here in North America. We’ve been in the waste business in New Zealand and Australia for maybe 20 years but now in North America there are more pressures on the capacities of landfills, the cost of transportation, and the safety issues around waste trucks. The system isn’t super flashy, but it just makes really basic common sense. It’s really going to affect everyone in the chain in that waste hauler business. The maintenance manager has concerns, the fleet manager has concerns about the route and capacity of the truck, and the sales manager is concerned about the pricing they’re putting on customer’s accounts. It all comes down to that P&L if they’re going to be a successful waste hauler, and that payload system on those trucks is just a no brainer.
Anyone that’s hauling something across the road needs to make sure they’re optimized. Sometimes these trucks will stop in the middle of the day and drive to a landfill to dump because their routes are so heavy and so bulky, they have peel off the route. Using this technology, you could potentially manage your route where you don’t have to pull a truck all 5 days. It’s all these little things that can save these companies money and that’s what LOADRITE is bringing to the industry.