Generation savvy drives business success

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  • Earthmovers & Excavators

One of the country’s most progressive construction companies is using Intelligent Machine Control to drive a 20–30 per cent increase in productivity.

The secret to business success is how well you can work with the on-board technology to plan a better result

Norris Construction Group, operating out of Geelong, has eight Komatsu Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) machines – ranging from dozers to excavators – at the core of its 36-strong Komatsu fleet.

Tim Norris, 48, the second-generation owner of the fast-growing business, credits the advent of iMC as the most startling innovation of the decade and the root cause of his expansion.

"You just don’t make mistakes – the job is there on the screen in front of the operator when he climbs on board," Norris says.

"Where a foreman might forget to give an instruction, the entire sequence of activity in an iMC machine is outlined and continually updated for the operator.

"It enables us to work when inclement weather prevails because it eliminates the need for a person on the ground."

Norris, who joined the family firm when he was 25, acknowledges that it takes young people to get the best out of the intelligent machinery.

PC490LC-10 excavtor loading a HM300-2 articulated dump truck

"The younger generation has a strong grasp of technology," he said.

"Aided by iMC they can think three of four days ahead on any job – plotting the best way for a work program to proceed.

"Access to the project design and scope via the screen is priceless – each operator can use the iMC system to better plan a work path. There are a number of different applications, some of which help to increase productivity between 20-30 per cent. A picture [on the iMC screen] is truly worth a thousand words."

Norris’s dad, Keith, started Norris Construction Group working on drainage projects in the Geelong area.

But the pyramid building societies of the 1980s left the company in dire financial trouble.

"I thought I was destined to apply my Commerce degree in the city – instead I found myself graduating and immediately joining the family business at its lowest ebb," Norris says.

D61EXi-23 Intelligent Machine Control dozer

Norris consolidated the firm’s old stock and borrowed to lease or buy newer and less troublesome plant.

He bought his first excavator, a second-hand Komatsu PC120-6 with 900 hours’ use.

The partnership with Komatsu goes beyond machinery purchase to direct involvement in information gathering seminars at the highest level, service advice on tap and finance packages designed around special offer promotions.

Norris has absorbed three other businesses which, with its own organic growth, has set it on a path of annual expansion approaching 20 per cent a year.

Trained and committed personnel are a crucial to Norris’ strategy.

The company employs 185 people, making it one of the larger employees in the Geelong region, and Norris is committed to offering full service to its core group of large clients.

 PC210LCi-11 Tier 4 excavtor

"As long as we plan well, we are much better off having all our services in house so we can deploy them to the areas of most need rather than relying on outside suppliers," Norris says.

Norris’ young operators meet once a day to share the results of their day’s work on the Komatsu iMC machines and to jointly plan upcoming activity.

"The iMC machines are at the core of our business,"Norris says. "The older non-iMC machines are generally used to work on projects like recycling and crushing where there’s not the same need for sophisticated planning.

"Anyone can pull the levers, but these days the secret to business success is how well you can work with the on-board technology to plan a better result."


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