By Marvin Joles III
Progression. At one point, we had hand crank drills. I’m sure somebody said, “I don’t know if I trust those, what if you don’t have electricity yet or the power goes out on a job.” Then when battery powered drills came out, people said, “They are weak and don’t last long.” Now look, both of those ways are nearly obsolete as we use 20V or higher power tools of all types in the construction world.
Companies and industries are now taking the leap and following the suit of automobile manufacturers and developing products and equipment in our industry to follow suit. Plate compactors, rollers, skid-steers and pavers. Yes, we are hearing griping from the sidelines, same as in the past, but we can never find the more convenient and efficient paths if we don’t develop technology. Is every single E-Powered thing that comes out going to stick and be the future? No. brands and ideas come and go. Anybody remember traditional GPS devices that you bought and stuck to your car windshield? They had a good run before your smartphone with Google Maps.
One of the products on today’s market, has found its way into regular use at one of my asphalt companies. At Blacktop Banter, we have had a great relationship with ECHO Inc. If you don’t know, ECHO makes outdoor power equipment such as backpack blowers, string trimmers, cut-off saws, chain saws and more. We have been fortunate at my company, Wis-Coat Asphalt Maintenance, to test a lot of these products and review them. One of the products was the ECHO DSRM-2600. It is a string trimmer, powered by a 56v eForce Battery.
Were we skeptical? Of course. Does it “Rip” like our big gas-powered trimmers to work the edges back? It holds its own. Do we always need a big gas-powered trimmer? No.
Here’s the thing. It has its place on our service trucks. We use it A LOT. Its quick, reliable, quiet, light and does nearly everything the previous gas-powered machine that was in its place before would do. The battery lasts all day and sometimes multiple days depending on the workload. If you are the person that says, “Yeah, but charging batteries for a trimmer is a pain”, isn’t mixing gas and oil for fuel a pain? Isn’t carrying gas cans around a pain? Isn’t spilled 2-cycle oil a pain?
This article is less about the product I used as an example and more about our mindset as an industry going forward, we can nitpick anything we want to, about anything we want to, if that’s the way we are going to look at things. Heck, you can boycott them if that’s your prerogative. Think about what that does though. It will slow progression, make it harder for companies to convince their executives to research and develop ideas, make it harder for technology to advance and possibly leave us behind other competitors, industries, countries, in their adaptation of “green” tech… which may give them an advantage.
Or hear me out on this… we as a whole, do like our service truck at Wis-Coat, and for a time, keep our gas cans and batteries on the same rig for a while and try this out. We get used to it, we get excited about the pros that come with it, and the possibility of what the future holds by bringing all forms technology into our industry. From a small sealcoating company like mine, all the way up to the mining and aggregate companies that we depend on. Time passes and things change, and over that amount of time we as a civilization forget why we took stances against things that we eventually realized were better as it became the consensus. I mean, the standalone GPS guys may still be fighting for their Garmins, but I promise I haven’t had anybody arguing for me to let them use a Rand McNally Road Atlas to find their way to a destination…because ultimately, adapting to the better way to do things gets us to where we want to go faster, and easier.
As always, if you have any insight or criticisms about this article or anything in it (which I have a feeling there will be), please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or of course, reach out to us at Blacktop Banter on any form of social media.
Marvin Joles III, Owner of Wis-Coat Asphalt Maintenance and host of Blacktop Banter podcast. You can listen to and watch Blacktop Banter podcasts by visiting https://blacktopbanter.com