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JCB Skid Steers upskill the next Generation

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Safety, reliability and simplicity of operation are three of the key reasons a Victorian construction training organisation has chosen JCB skid steers for its training programs.

Safe T Training provides specialised training in civil construction work, including upskilling unemployed people and those enrolled in secondary schools.

Craig Williams has run Safe T Training for seven years, along with his brother Brett, and Craig’s wife Karon has been the driving force behind their work with the secondary schools. Their highly skilled trainers have in-depth real world experience of civil construction and teach those skills on-site for corporate clients, as well as in a classroom situation for those new to the industry.

The company has just bought four newly released JCB 135W Eco Skid Steer Loaders (SSL) to be used specifically with new operators.

“The reason we chose the SSLs from JCB is for safety, because of the set-up,” Craig says. “With other skid steers, you have to climb in and out over the bucket, which is very dangerous and slippery.

“We don’t want any of our students getting hurt. The fact the JCB machines have a side entrance, like a car door, means they can get in and out very easily. Some of our students wouldn’t have the strength to pull themselves in and out over the bucket, so it’s about ease of access as much as safety.”

Karon says another reason for the choice is that the model is the perfect size for a training machine.

“You can stand beside the students as they are driving and reach in to take control if you have to. And because it has a canopy, not a glass cabin, you communicate face-to-face rather than trying to yell through the glass when they’re 20 foot up in the air. It’s much more hands-on training than you can do with any of the big machines,” she says.

Craig had used JCB backhoes and telehandlers in the past so he already had a high regard for their safety and efficiency. The four new SSLs are the first JCB machines in the Safe T Training fleet but Craig says they won’t be the last.

“There are a lot of good reasons for buying JCB equipment,” Craig says.

“The safety features are certainly paramount, and the quality of the product, too, but it’s also about the quality of the service. With some companies we’ve dealt with, once the deal is done, that’s the end of it – you don’t hear from them – but JCBCEA followed through immediately. They trained all of us on the machines and when we asked for some modifications, it was done, pretty much overnight.”

For starters, Craig and Karon needed a simple single bucket arrangement instead of the standard four-in-one bucket to minimise confusion during the early stages of training. JCBCEA sourced and supplied the required bucket immediately.

“We also wanted the machines to run only at low speeds,” Craig says.

“Many of the kids we work with have never driven a car let alone a machine, so if they learn the basics at low speed, they develop complete operating proficiency before they learn to work at speed.

It’s very easy for teenagers to confuse their ambitions and their abilities – at low speed, that simply isn’t possible. The JCB team understood immediately what we wanted and why and it was done.”

Features that Karon and Craig rate highly also include the hydraulic and park braking systems, the clear easily-read gauges which make it easy for students to understand the machine they are using, and the fuel efficiency.

“We’ve had these machines for six months now, and they haven’t stopped. Luckily they don’t cost a fortune in fuel to run, and we’ve had no down time. The reliability has been excellent.”

Karon and Craig were introduced to the 135W by JCB CEA’s Brendan Clarke. Brendan had been working with Craig for years, understood his specific business needs, and knew the model would be ideal for them.

“I knew of his interest in the mono boom skid steer loader for his training work, so I approached him about the machines. I knew the side access was a winner for him, for being able to get close to the people he is training.

“With the standard skid steer, the arms are in the way and they usually have glass cabins too, which makes it virtually impossible to get close to the operator when they are in the operating environment. That’s no good in a training situation.

“That ease of physical access means the trainer can get right in there and show the learner what they need to see and do, without any risk to themselves. The other benefit of the single boom, aside from safety, is better visibility – about 270 degrees of clear vision. That’s good for any operator, but especially so for a learner.

“Craig recognised the benefits immediately. He initially said he would take one, and the next thing it was two, and suddenly it was four!

“Of course, the features that work for Craig and Karon with their operations make it attractive to any operator who wants a machine that you don’t have to climb over to get in and out of, or to change the attachments.”

Photo Caption: Safe T Training owner Craig Williams has recently added four new JCB 135W Eco Skid Steer Loaders to his training fleet, bringing a new level of safety and simplicity.

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