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(VIDEO) Watch an autonomous loader with Teleo technology at work in an asphalt plant

A remote-operated wheel loader with a bucket full of gravel.
A Cat 966XE with Supervised Autonomy technology is the first foray into the asphalt industry for Teleo. Teleo

Time-sensitive and perishable, asphalt must be ready to move right away when an order arrives. For Ajax Paving, operator of eight asphalt plants in Florida, that means having enough operators to load their plants with materials to meet the demand.

However, an ongoing labour shortage has made that challenging. With fewer heavy equipment operators on the market, contractors and material producers are finding it more difficult to fill open positions.

For Ajax Paving, the solution has involved work with Teleo, in which a Caterpillar 966XE wheel loader has been outfitted with Supervised Autonomy, Teleo's remote and autonomous operation technology. Machines using this tool can be operated from a comfortable command centre.

Ajax is outfitting a second wheel loader with Teleo Supervised Autonomy, and with the two machines at different plants roughly 80 miles apart, a single operator will be able to operate both machines, simultaneously, from one of three Ajax command centres. This makes Ajax Paving the first company to use remote operations to load an asphalt plant, according to Teleo.

 "We'll be using Teleo at two of our asphalt facilities to remote-operate the loader which feeds the plant," said Andy DeCraene, Executive Vice President of Operations at Ajax Paving. "This is going to allow us to not only staff the facility with just local folks, but we can do remote working from other places around the state."

Using one operator to run machines across multiple sites has many advantages for Ajax Paving. If an operator is unavailable on one site due to a general staffing shortage or a worker calling out sick, someone at a different site can step in to operate the machine.

All ages of operators have found the remote technology effective, not just the younger, tech-savvy users, according to DeCraene. "Even some of the older generation operators have picked it up within 20 to 25 minutes."

Heavy equipment operation is stressful both physically and mentally due to machine vibration, secluded job sites, and other factors. Ajax Paving President Vince Hafeli is a vocal advocate for mental health in the construction sector, and quickly recognized how Teleo could help both the business and the operators.

Running the loaders only as necessary will help reduce maintenance costs over time. Teleo

"One of the perks of integrating Teleo's technology is that it takes operators out of the cab, making their lives easier," Hafeli said. "By removing the physical aspects of doing this job, the mental demand automatically decreases. It's a welcome benefit of the technology."

An unintended positive gain of implementing Teleo's technology was maintenance cost savings.

"If we're running the machines only when we truly need to run them, we'll get more production out of them while putting less hours on them. That efficiency is going to lower our maintenance costs," described Ajax Paving Fleet Manager Dan Maitland.

Ajax Paving is Teleo's first asphalt industry customer, but the company is quick to adapt and learn.

"One of the things that was exciting about Teleo is that they're willing to come to your industry and learn your business," said Maitland. "Teleo came to our site, observed, met with operators and key personnel, and then began to address our needs. So, there's no need to worry about, ‘oh, that's not my industry'; if you run heavy equipment, you have a loader, you're the industry."

Teleo provides a solution that will help Ajax Paving broaden its hiring pool which helps solve its labour shortage issues, allows operators to control machines in more than one location simultaneously, reduces maintenance costs, and provides meaningful mental health benefits that are a priority for the company.

Watch Ajax Paving's remote operated Cat wheel loader at work

Company info

292 Lambert Ave
Palo Alto, CA
US, 94306


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