Heavy-equipment operators get new kind of training

For most of us, learning to drive involved figuring out the rules of the road, mastering some street skills and becoming familiar with our vehicles…

It probably didn’t include lessons in blade angle, joystick control, tire tilt or moldboard pitch. But that’s the sort of stuff that ADOT heavy-equipment operators have to understand to skillfully do their job.

Education is important when it comes to operating heavy equipment, which is why ADOT has partnered with Empire Cat to get some really comprehensive instruction to improve the way our heavy-equipment operators are trained.

“Empire Cat is a worldwide company,” says State Maintenance Engineer Lonnie Hendrix. “They’ve been doing this for many years, and so, why wouldn’t we want to go to the people that do it full time.”

The instruction includes classroom time, simulator experience and hands-on equipment operation. The ADOT employees who are completing this training are actually trainers themselves, who will in turn teach this material to other ADOT heavy-equipment operators.

Besides the obvious benefits of improved training, it also helps the department to save money.

“This is definitely helping us save dollars, save equipment costs,” says ADOT Heavy Equipment Program Manager Jim Wade. “We’re learning how to save wear on tires. We’re not putting so much fuel through the equipment because now we’re operating it more efficiently.”

In the future, this training partnership is expected to cover other types of equipment, but for now it’s focused on the operation of motor graders, which you can see in action in the video above. ADOT uses this high-tech piece of equipment in a number of ways – everything from building ditches and clearing washouts to repairing dirt roads and interstate highways.

To learn more about ADOT heavy-equipment training, revisit our previous blog posts that show how operators are educated on snowplows and other heavy equipment like loaders, skid steers and dump trucks.