Discovering Productivity in an Ash Cloud

Taking a trip to Europe last month—and subsequently becoming one of the hundreds of thousands of people stranded as airspace was closed due to ash from Iceland's now infamous Eyjafjallajokull Volcano eruption—I was reminded by how reliant we are on technology, as well as how much Mother Nature still rules our present way of life no matter how advanced we've become.

Despite delays caused by the natural world, our connection with high technology did make the burden easier for displaced travelers. For those moving throughout Europe, many were able to find and book other means of transportation like rental cars, buses, ferries, and trains through internet connections. Those like me who had what felt like indefinitely postponed transatlantic flights were able to stay in touch with the office throughout the week through Wi-Fi and Blackberries. As a full-time telecommuter already, the only real difference was the disparity in Western European and Central time zones.

In these instances, there are opportunities to review your current working processes and learn to become more productive. For example, at my home office, I use two 21-inch widescreen 1080p monitors that really enhance multi-tasking. I keep email and the internet open on one while I have two or three applications running on the other. But back on the single, 14-inch laptop monitor, I actually felt more productive by nixing the email and internet screen.

Extenuating circumstances aren't required to review your productivity. Every day, equipment owners are adopting new technology in the lifting equipment world. Whether it is tracking equipment or recordkeeping, software advancements allow equipment owners to manage costs by keeping tabs on labor hours and service tasks. Software also can increase productivity and safety by preplanning entire projects before the first lift is made. With A1A Software's 3D Lift Plan suite, for example, new components have been added to develop multi-crane lifts and include advanced rigging, such as shackles, master links, hooks, and lifting lugs, into the design. Recognizing how much lift planning tools increase safety and improve productivity, ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corp. makes the internet-based 3D Lift application available on all onboard crane computers in its fleet. Read more about productivity enhancing software in the May-June issue of Lift and Access.

But how do equipment owners learn about new technology? Tradeshows and exhibitions often display the industry's latest wares, and the upcoming Crane & Rigging Conference, which will be held May 26-27 in Houston, Texas, is no exception. Leading experts will share RFID case studies and teach ways to develop a critical lift plan. Additionally, a panel discussion is scheduled to take place that will discuss telematics and how this technology is being implemented on cranes. Crane owners, manufacturers, telematic suppliers, and an attorney are slated to take part in this panel. CRC also will be held in conjunction with Reach Expo 2010. This two-day exposition allows suppliers of rigging gear, training services, software products, and other crane-related components and accessories to show their latest products and services. Full details on CRC and Reach Expo 2010 can be found at www.reachexpo2010.com.

For those of you who were also stuck thousands of miles from home, I hope your travels brought you safely home. And you also were able to take the opportunity to reflect on your work practices and productivity while working away from the office.