Being early adopters of technology including machine control and GPS-based survey systems is the best way to overcome the contracting industry’s inherent skill shortage says Patrick Peoples, managing director of Schick Construction and Cartage of Te Rapa. By Nina Yeoman.
While fewer people might be employed on a project nowadays, they don’t need to be true specialists because technology is able to help so much.
Since Patrick Peoples bought Schick Construction and Cartage in 2001 it has grown from a company with a $4.5 million annual turnover to one in excess of $30 million.
Patrick believes in continually investing in his staff and maintains a constant focus on staying at the forefront of the industry. Keeping his fleet and staff as productive as possible also means sharper prices for clients and a well-trained and motivated workforce.
The company is constantly looking at ways to keep ahead of competitors – something it believes it has found with Leica machine technology. Patrick says New Zealand distributors Global Survey works hard to ensure Schick gets the best products to fully integrate across its fleet and sites to deliver reliability, ease of use and “exceptional” after-sales support.
In practice, this means everyone on the survey team knows how to operate the software, and systems are in place to ensure project data is retained so that they can quickly and easily come back to projects that could have been started several years earlier. Schick Siteworks divisional manager Mark Dawbin acknowledges that while every technology has limits, once these are understood it’s a lot easier to optimise staff and machinery performance, project delivery and ultimately profitability.
Schick often finds itself with more advanced technology than other industry participants. Clients are often excited over “clever” diggers that can deliver complex shapes without pegging, says Colin Vette, head survey manager of Schick.
“They can’t believe we can deliver a flat site for each dwelling on a subdivision, for example, using just one guy and a digger.”
While CAD files from designers are already “heaps better” than those they received even five years ago, Schick’s software is often more advanced. “Better original files means it’s easier to produce better quality machine control files,” explains Colin.
It’s also easier when potential problems are identified on site, because a unit can immediately be brought into the office and staff can calculate any savings or cost overruns immediately.
Schick’s ability to cut complex shapes in one pass is consistently demonstrated in its award-winning projects.