Better Roads

July 2014

Better Roads Digital Magazine

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Better Roads July 2014 11 counties, Koopman says the county was impressed. Ultimately, the county's board of supervisors approved the purchase of two Volvo G946B motor graders. Koopman at- tributes the county's decision to several factors, including ease of use, ease of maintenance and dealer service. New equipment decisions "It's not an easy decision to introduce a new brand of equip- ment into our fl eet, because we really have to feel confi dent in the relationship with the dealer and their service department," Koopman says. Prior to the sale and bidding process, Scott Van Keppel brought out several demonstrator machines along with its service teams and representatives from the Volvo factory. "You can own a piece of equipment for your whole life and never understand its full capabilities," says Koopman, "but when you have someone from the team that actually de- signed the equipment come out and explain it to you, that's when it really clicks." After the purchase, the dealer team spent time training the equipment operators and followed up a week later so they could develop additional questions, Koopman points out. "We've had virtually no downtime on these machines, but any time we've needed help, they've been there to assist us." Taking control With ease of use and cost of ownership top of mind, Koop- man identifi ed joystick controls as a requirement of the ma- chines being specifi ed during the bid letting. "I felt that joystick controls would reduce operator fatigue, as well as provide a higher resale value when we decide to cycle the machines out," says Koopman. "My operators, on the other hand, were a little apprehensive at fi rst." The two operators who would be running the new Volvo motor graders had previously been running another brand of motor graders with manual lever controls and steering wheels. Making the switch to joystick controls initially put them out of their comfort zone, but the switch came more naturally than they had anticipated. "Within about a week, I'd say they were convinced they did not want to go back to their other machines," Koopman says. The operators agree. "The controls feel really natural, and they can be set where you like them," says Harry Hines, mo- tor grader operator for Clayton County. "I also like that the motor grader has a steering wheel. This is as nice of a setup as I've ever been in." Quick service and clear roads Koopman's operators are responsible for most of the routine maintenance of their motor graders. The faster they can com- plete these tasks, the more quickly they can get on the road and complete the job. So, ease of maintenance is a big selling point for Koopman. "Our working conditions are very dusty, and we used to have a lot of problems with our machines running hot, be- cause the radiators and air conditioner condensers were suck- ing up so much dust," Koopman says. Sending out a mechanic to clean the radiators can lead to several lost hours of productivity, but with the new machines, Koopman and his operators are better able to service the ma- chines without putting a call in to the mechanic. "The radiators are much more accessible on these ma- chines, so my operators are able to quickly clean them out in the fi eld before it becomes an issue," Koopman says. The serviceability of the machine doesn't just lead to greater productivity; Koopman believes it leads to better operator safety as well. "All the major grease points and the fuel fi ll are accessible at ground level, which is much safer than other ma- chines," Koopman says. "In the old days, my operators had to climb up on the machine or on the wheel to access everything, which I never did like from a safety standpoint, especially dur- ing the winter when everything's covered in snow and ice." However, he bases his decisions on a network of individuals that extends well beyond his operators. A family affair Having grown up in Clayton County, Koopman knows how important his job is to the community. "Whether it be a decision about equipment purchasing, fi nancials, or the prioritization of road maintenance projects, the fi rst question he asks himself is "how will this decision affect my county?" "We have 18,000 people depending on us to keep the roads safe. These people are my friends and family," says Koopman. "There is a great sense of pride that comes with making decisions that I know will improve the way we do things. Getting our roads open faster and more safely for the people I care about – that's what it comes down to." Article and photos courtesy of Volvo Construction Equipment. For a video about this project, go watch?v=lOYNVAtgpQw

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