At JLG, Pa. Gov. Wolf gets a taste of working a boom lift

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. — JLG Industries has seven locations in Pennsylvania, including a plant that employs 1,300 people in McConnellsburg, but Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday encouraged corporate officials to further expand their presence in the state.

Wolf would like the access equipment manufacturer to move its administrative offices from the Hagerstown area into Pennsylvania.

“He didn’t say ‘no,'” Wolf said as COO Andy Tacelosky chuckled.

In 2000, JLG moved some of its employees into office space in Washington County, and later moved its executive offices there from Pennsylvania.

Tacelosky accepted the good-natured ribbing from Wolf as he provided the governor his first tour of McConnellsburg’s manufacturing plant. Wolf said he had driven past the plant many times, but never personally saw the scissor lifts, aerial lifts, boom lifts and telehandlers he fawned over as a child.

“It’s even more impressive up close,” he said.

Wolf got behind the controls of a telescopic boom lift — through the company’s new virtual technology training simulator.

The simulator, which was three years in development, allows soon-to-be operators to initially train on controls in the safety of a lab, rather than on the equipment itself.

‘It’s much more safe and less expensive than (making a mistake) in the real world,” said Janee Molchan, senior video producer.

The simulators are in 10 pilot stations and ready to expand further into the market. The stations are networked together, allowing a trainer to work with a student from thousands of miles away if needed.

“Everybody has good things to say about it,” Molchan said.

Pa. Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair/Cumberland/Franklin/Fulton/Huntingdon, watched Wolf behind the controls of the simulator. Use of the virtual reality goggles make the operator feel as if he or she is moving through a course, while the person is actually stationary.

Eichelberger praised the technology.

“That’s the wave now,” he said.

Wolf said his administration’s priorities include not only career readiness, technical training and apprenticeships, but also helping people make the transition into robotics when necessary. JLG already uses automation in about 25 percent of its work.

“They want people who are lifelong learners who can adapt and transform,” Wolf said.

Some public teachers spend time over the summer at JLG to learn about what practical applications they can incorporate into their curriculum, Tacelosky said.

Wolf said grant dollars are available for teachers in the workplace, as well as companies considering development in Pennsylvania.

“The nice thing about Pennsylvania is you don’t have to sell too hard,” Wolf said, praising the availability of raw materials, educational institutions and a high-quality workforce

By Jennifer Fitch, Herald-Mail Media, August 7, 2018

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