Editor’s note: The opinions and views expressed in the association’s commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Lee Newspapers Inc. and RockRoadRecycle.
Stig Engström / CEO and founder, Engcon
The tiltrotator that was the start of engcon back in 1990 came about because I wanted to solve a technical problem. Looking back a few decades later, I can see that a great deal has happened in the development of engcon, its business solutions and the product systems we provide worldwide. But I also know that we’re far from finished. We want to do more.
While zero tolerance for workplace accidents has long been a central topic of debate, the only zero achieved so far is a concrete result from the discussions. Not much has happened in my niche business — excavators and quick couplers — either.
This may be because decision-making processes are exhaustive, the protagonists slow and opinions diverse. But we cannot allow the lack of consensus to create unnecessary deadlocks that constantly slow development if we really want to make progress.
While we’ve been marking time here in Sweden, the Norwegian Machine Wholesale Federation has taken an important step in the right direction by issuing recommendations to apply safety standards higher than those that pertain internationally. Also, examples from the automotive industry show that major changes are possible in short order if only the will exists. Today, adaptive cruise control through radar is practically standard in every new car, even though as car buyers most of us had not heard of the technology a few years ago. Things moved quickly, but more importantly, safety efforts focused on the right things, namely the elimination of the human factor that is behind the overwhelming majority of traffic accidents. We can also learn from this.
In launching the “responsible quick coupler,” engcon seeks to do everything we can to drive developments towards zero tolerance for workplace accidents involving excavators. In the system engcon has developed, the quick coupler does for the machine operator what adaptive cruise control does for the car driver — it stops accidents before they happen. The system reduces the operator error and minimizes the number of incidents.
There’s much more we could do to increase tool change safety, if we all had the will. And we do. Don’t think that today’s long-established safety systems are the last word. We are also driven, as we have always been, by the desire to be problem solvers and continue searching for innovative ways ahead. Not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of safety for everyone.