Changing from one-shift operations to two shifts at Rinker Materials' quarry in Macon, Ga., three years ago showed up almost immediately in the rising cost of truck brakes and retarders.
"This pit has substantial down grades, and heat was causing a problem. We suffered through some engine overspeeds and transmission damage, too," says Dave Venrick, mobile equipment manager. "We were showing new operators how to work safely, but we weren't really teaching them how to get the most out of the truck."
Venrick wrote training programs for truck and wheel-loader operators, and the company hired veteran operator Jason Tucker as a trainer. Within a year, Venrick was seeing cost savings.
All new hires start with a 40-hour program that combines classroom and behind-the-wheel experience. It includes everything from safety issues to proper machine inspections.
After the classroom and some time in the cab with Tucker in the jump seat, trainees spend a few days doing some stockpiling or hauling washed material. They get accustomed to the vehicle in a large area with light traffic. After that, they go down to the pit and work for a few days at a reduced rate under Tucker's supervision.
"It's not until Jason's very happy with the new person that he gets turned loose in the truck to join the normal operation," says Venrick.
Training can stretch to as much as 80 hours, but it's worth it.
"You can hardly measure the value of a safe operation," Venrick says, "But the money we've saved in component wear and tear more than makes up for what we have invested in training."