Installing roadside weigh in motion (WIM) scales and intelligent credentialing screening systems from start to finish for commercial vehicles isn’t a business prospect that many contractors willingly take on. For David Jackson, owner of Jackson Construction and General Contracting, it was an opportunity that has proven to be very successful.
David began nurturing his interest in construction while he was in high school after working for his grandfather, who was a carpenter. A few years later, David decided to branch out and form his own residential construction business.
“I liked working outside, and I liked construction,” he says. “It was all I knew basically, and it was good, hard work. I started in this business to make extra money, and I was good at it. As I got more experienced, I built decks, fences and then eventually began working on houses.”
David’s construction business kept him busy, but he was interested in transportation and safety issues at the state and federal level. When a full-time job as deputy commissioner for the State of Kentucky opened, David jumped at the chance. It was while serving as deputy commissioner that he stumbled on a new business opportunity.
“While working for the state, I was introduced to Intelligent Imaging Systems products as part of the Smart Roadside Information Systems (SRIS),” he says. SRIS is the leading law enforcement platform in commercial vehicle safety, which eliminates multiple, stand-alone systems and streamlines roadside operations.
“It’s a cost-effective solution to help contain infrastructure expenses by monitoring the weight of commercial vehicles as they travel over the highway,” David says. “These systems can measure the per-axle weight as well as the gross weight of vehicles while traveling at highway speeds, helping to make weigh station operation more efficient by sorting out potential violators for static weighing and inspection, while permitting vehicles of legal weight to continue without interruption.”
David was intrigued with this technology and decided to start selling and installing SRIS systems, which include static scale weigh stations and WIM scales, across the country.
“I had built a solid relationship and network of people that I had met while working for the state, so it just fell into place,” he says.
Weighing new opportunities
Before David could begin installing static scale weigh stations and WIM scales, he needed to plan how he would take on this new business opportunity.
“My company started out pretty lean and mean and still is,” he says. “I have four full-time and a small pool of part-time employees. My guys have great skills but installing these systems would be complex.
“They needed to have the right equipment in place, tough equipment. I had used other equipment in the past, but it just didn’t hold up to the extreme work we do. I decided to purchase Bobcat equipment because it had been very good to us in the past.”
One machine, led to another and then to two more. Once David had his fleet in place, he began to add Bobcat attachments to make his business more versatile. He now has over 20 Bobcat-branded attachments in his equipment fleet.
“We didn’t purchase Bobcat equipment and attachments just to look at them,” David says. “We make sure to utilize our equipment on each jobsite. Whether it’s working on residential construction or installing SRIS systems, we are armed and ready.”
Building to scale
Each SRIS project is a little different, but generally David and his crew primarily use five Bobcat attachments – an auger, excavator bucket, hydraulic clamp, hydraulic breaker and trencher – to install weigh-in-motion sensors which are used for enforcement, monitoring and analysis of commercial vehicles on the road.
“As soon as a truck passes over the scale, the system can tell if the vehicle credentials are valid or if the vehicle is wanted, stolen or overloaded,” he says. “The idea with this technology is to keep the good guys on the road and pull the bad ones out.”
First, the T740 or T590 compact track loader is paired with a hydraulic breaker to break up concrete, then the E42 excavator transfers the broken-up material away from the project site using a bucket and hydraulic clamp. Once the concrete is removed from the existing weigh station, a trencher attachment powers through rocky soil for power and data lines, which transmit data to the weigh station.
“There are times when my crew has to trench a mile from the mainline of the interstate to the weigh station to install power and data,” David says. “After we get the power running, we install the weigh-in-motion scales, and we epoxy it back into the blacktop or concrete.”
The last stage includes installing foundations for overhead cameras and license plate readers. David uses an auger to drill down 6 to 8 feet and 30 to 36 inches in diameter, and he adds rebar and concrete to the hole before mounting and securing the pole. The crew then installs cameras on the pole, which transfer the commercial vehicle information to the weigh station operator.
“The process sounds simple, but there are a lot of moving parts,” he says. “From start to finish, these projects used to take us seven to 10 days. Now, with Bobcat equipment, it takes us three to four. That’s a huge time savings.”
To date, Jackson Construction has installed over 50 SRIS systems in 32 states, and the company has no plans on stopping anytime soon.
“It wasn’t easy to get where we are today,” David says. “I wasn’t the sharpest guy in the world, but I worked hard, I networked well, and I built relationships based on trust. I also knew when to diversify my business. It’s been pretty impressive to look back and see what we have accomplished and how far we’ve come.”
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