Five minutes with Trimble’s Karl Lemke

By |  October 29, 2021
Karl Lemke


MINExpo International 2021 provided Pit & Quarry’s editors with a number of opportunities to visit with those exhibiting at the Las Vegas trade show. Karl Lemke, Western North America sales manager of Trimble Loadrite solutions, was among those P&Q visited. Lemke touched on a variety of industry topics – including supply shortages, the state of the aggregate industry and how producers are currently approaching technology solutions.

What supply shortages are you seeing at the moment?

Resins are becoming an issue. Resins come from oil. Oil is cut back. As the oils pick up again, we’ll get more resins.

There’s also a box shortage. Amazon has picked up such a supply of boxes in online shipping that it’s impacted everybody. It’s affecting others like us who are in a market for boxes. That started this summer. It affects us in that we can’t get the right box size.

From your point of view, how are aggregate producers performing this year?

Business is strong, and it stayed strong. Usually, there’s a drop-off period around Labor Day, but people are working really hard to try to get things done. They’re just trying to stay ahead.

Times have been bad, but now times are good. So no one is wanting to shut anything down or take anything offline because they have the demand. There’s strong demand in the aggregate industry.

How are supply shortages impacting technology and producer adoption of it?

The shortages are probably making the biggest impact. Ideally, they’re beginning to look at technology as a way to address [shortages], making their workers more productive. I think the construction industry and the aggregate industry are becoming more open to looking at ways to get better productivity out of their employees. Or, getting their employees trained faster or up to speed so they’re more productive. They’re beginning to embrace technology as a way to do that.

How about technology as an answer to the ongoing labor crisis? What impacts have you seen there?

Says Trimble's Karl Lemke: "Adding a skill may cost you $10,000 for a loader, but you just spent $250,000 for that loader. So, $10,000 to make that loader more efficient – what does that cost you? Photo: Trimble

Says Trimble’s Karl Lemke: “Adding a skill may cost you $10,000 for a loader, but you just spent $250,000 for that loader. So, $10,000 to make that loader more efficient – what does that cost you?” Photo: Trimble

There are not only equipment shortages but skilled shortages that exist in this industry. A lot of companies are looking at technology and asking: ‘How do we continue to move forward?’

As people come out of mining schools, they are very used to wanting data, whereas, in many instances, you have some people who’ve been in the industry a while, and if they can’t touch it, grab it, feel it, they’re not as comfortable.

Some of the newer people I’ve interfaced with show up at aggregate operations and don’t understand how they can run without information in general. They’re looking for ways to improve the operation and make it run more efficiently, help their organization meet their goals, and provide better feedback. They want to use the data you can collect in aggregate and mining operations to better maintain your plant, so you can control downtime and overtime.

It’s about being more proactive as opposed to being more reactive. You can’t do that if you don’t have real-time information.

Think about online banking and online transactions. Who looks at their bank statement anymore? You just go to an ATM, find out what [your balance] is and you’re like: ‘That’s good.’

I think business has adapted to that, and the aggregate industry is beginning to understand that if I can get data right now, I can immediately act upon it. I don’t need to wait until the end of the day and then find out I produced a bunch of stuff that is no value to me. Why don’t I just affect it right now and be proactive as opposed to reactive?

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