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Operating at a distance

By Jacob Stoller

Kris Troppman, manager of Smart Construction for SMS Equipment, shared his expertise with Jacob Stoller of On-Site magazine on remotely operated equipment. As an expert in this area of equipment operation, Kris shares valuable insights on how this technology is being used on jobsites and where it's going.

“The three main reasons why companies are exploring supervised autonomy in construction are safety – keeping workers out of harm’s way, operator recruitment and retention, and operational improvements that lead to predictable results, reduced wear and tear, and volume gains,” says Kris Troppman, Manager of Smart Construction at Edmonton-based equipment solution provider SMS Equipment. 
 A key barrier to deployment on the typical construction site is the cost and effort of setting up jobsite control networks. “There's a mesh network that's required to be set up in order to utilize this technology, and that’s not easy to do,” says Troppman. “When a contractor has a dynamic workflow where the equipment moves on every few days, that contractor is not likely to use supervised autonomy right now.” 
“There’s a lot of autonomy in mining, particularly in ultra class haul trucks at various deployments around the world,” says Troppman. “The oil sands in Fort McMurray has a large number, and we’re starting to see that technology in construction. That pathway will be built upon supervised autonomy where there will be an operator.”