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Some people seem to have natural abilities when it comes to operating machinery while others take time to develop those abilities. When it comes to heavy equipment, you don’t necessarily need a wide range of skills before undertaking training, however, you do need to be the type of person who can quickly develop those abilities. So what abilities does a good heavy equipment operator require?
- Control – Heavy equipment operators are required to quickly and repeatedly adjust controls of their equipment, often to very precise positions, and these adjustments are often very small, yet may have a large impact on the finished work.
- Coordination – One of the most important abilities is that of coordination between hand, legs and eyes. Sometimes it’s not as easy as it looks, however, operators very quickly learn how to coordinate their limbs to control their equipment’s actions.
- Steadiness – This ability is required in conjunction with coordination and control. Keeping a hand or foot very steady on a control while moving other controls, or moving over rough terrain, can be difficult. Being able to make very minor adjustments (control) ensures you maintain the accuracy of the work your equipment is completing.
- Dexterity – This ability is used in conjunction with coordination, however, it often requires different limbs to be doing reverse operations; for example, one hand pushing forward while another pulls back.
- Reaction – Being able to react quickly is important, however, being able to react and make the right corrective movement is even more important, and sometimes, that movement may feel unnatural. This is a skill that can take time to learn, however, for safety reasons, it is one that should be developed as quickly as possible.
You can liken some of these abilities to those of a car driver. For example, being able to make fine adjustments to the steering as you drive at speed down the highway; the ability to change gear while breaking or accelerating in a vehicle with a manual gear box; and reversing with a trailer attached (this requires opposite movements to what comes naturally). Attending a heavy equipment training program that gives you in the seat operator practice on a range of heavy equipment will help you to develop these abilities quickly. Get them right, and that’s half the battle to becoming a great heavy equipment operator. Fortunately, with a good training regime, these abilities become second nature and you hardly ever need to consciously think about them – a bit like driving a car really.