From the beginning, Rino Construction owner Jason Wood has always prioritized being at the forefront of all the latest technology available in the construction world. So many of our competitors have ownership groups that are stuck in their ways with a “good ol’ boy” mentality, and they push back on technology instead of embracing the future of our industry. Jason has the mentality that we either need to keep up with the times, or get left in the dust.
That’s why we recently purchased our third John Deere SmartGrade dozer ― we’re actually the only company in the entire state of Washington that has three of these machines. A few years ago, when we first bought a SmartGrade, it was a big jump for a company of our size to purchase such advanced iron. For small companies, it can be difficult to warrant the extra cost of integrating new technology, but in our experience it’s well worth the investment.
It’s amazing how much we use these dozers today. We can barely even keep up with the amount of work that we could use them for. From a labor perspective, they eliminate the need for a person to be constantly checking grade, which means that we can distribute extra manpower to other areas of the job. The SmartGrade dozer also saves us the hassle of surveying ― we don’t have to stake out all the cuts and fills, because this machine is constantly on grade, putting every last bit of dirt or rock exactly where it needs to go without worrying about overfilling or overcutting.
We even grade most of our roads with our SmartGrade dozers because of how precise they are. There are definitely instances where you’d want a motor grader for bigger road jobs ― like public works or airport projects ― but for smaller jobs, we can bring one machine on at the beginning of the job, and it can stay all the way to the end, completing the whole job. You’re not moving in a lot of different equipment. That’s huge for us, just on the cost of transportation alone.
Of course, Rino’s embrace of technology goes further than just this one type of dozer. We have rovers that our foremen can use, which allow them to be in constant control of a job site, knowing exactly where dirt needs to be moved. Those machines take quite a bit of training, but there’s a lot of potential in those rover systems. We also use drones for pre-site visits, and for aerials during the project for tracking purposes. It’s a large investment, but we’re pushing to start doing drone-based topographic surveys. We don’t have that capability now, but it’s something we’d like to get into in the next year or so.
Overall, we feel like our usage of modern tech gives us an advantage over our competitors. We have clients that have never even seen GPS used on a job before. When they see us start moving dirt as fast as we can, they’re always pretty shocked at the product, just because they don’t have the experience on their own projects. When we talk to new clients, how much you can save with this technology is always a topic we want to bring up. It helps speed up the work, saves money on surveying, and delivers a fine product.
In the next few years, technology is going to change our industry dramatically. It’s time to get on board, or watch while your competitors leave you behind!