Data from telematics devices can help improve fleet management, increase utilization and create savings that drop straight to the bottom line.
Equipment telematics can do more to improve fleet management than many construction firms realize. When used in conjunction with fleet management software, these small pieces of hardware go beyond GPS tracking for construction equipment, providing not just real-time location data but also visibility into asset utilization, engine hours, fuel usage and more.
At a time of increasingly tight construction budgets and supply chain issues that have made heavy equipment harder to purchase and considerably more expensive, companies need to make the most of their owned equipment. Leveraging the data provided by telematics devices is the answer.
Your construction equipment may have a telematics device with a built-in GPS sensor already installed. If not, companies such as United Rentals can add telematics devices to almost any piece of mobile equipment and help you use the data to best effect.
Here are six ways telematics can help fleet managers gain a better understanding of their equipment’s performance, condition and utilization. Armed with this intelligence, owners can make their fleets work harder and last longer.
1. Find your equipment
An equipment GPS tracker, when it feeds data into fleet management software such as United Rentals’ Total Control®, provides immediate visibility into all of your equipment on a map. This location data ends the hunt for that backhoe someone parked out of sight or moved to another jobsite.
Eliminating time wasted on equipment searches helps keep projects on schedule. GPS tracking for construction equipment can also solve the mystery of who’s hoarding all the air compressors, generators or skid steers so you don’t purchase or rent more when you don’t need to.
2. Optimize preventive maintenance
An effective preventive maintenance program minimizes unplanned equipment downtime, improves equipment performance and prolongs the useful life of your equipment, which helps protect your equipment budget. With telematics device data, you can optimize your equipment maintenance schedules.
A manufacturer may suggest time-interval-based maintenance for a piece of equipment (every six months, for example), but just-in-time maintenance based on engine hours or usage hours may also be beneficial. It helps ensure you’re not under-servicing heavily used equipment or over-servicing equipment you use less often.
Preventive maintenance is critical, but it may slip through the cracks if you don’t have a system that reminds you. Total Control can provide service alerts to help you stay on top of maintenance even when you’re overwhelmed with other tasks.
3. Foil thieves and unauthorized users
Equipment theft is a major issue on construction sites, and recovery rates are low. Construction equipment telematics changes the equation in favor of owners.
With the help of telematics devices, a good fleet management system lets you draw geofences — virtually boundaries — around your equipment and configure geofence alerts that tell you the minute a piece of equipment enters or exits the geofence. These real-time alerts can help you foil thieves who sneak onto the construction site at night to steal equipment, as well as subcontractors and workers who may choose to “borrow” the equipment for other projects.
The sooner you know about a possible theft, the greater your odds of recovering the equipment and avoiding the expense and downtime related to stolen assets.
4. Measure and optimize utilization
How hard is that reach forklift, mini excavator or ride-on roller working for you? The more you utilize a piece of equipment, the less it costs you per hour of use.
Utilization reports generated by your fleet management software, enabled by telematics devices, provide valuable insights into your usage trends for each piece or class of equipment.
This information can help you right-size your fleet. If your excavator is rarely sitting still, that’s a sign you may need to buy or rent another one. If a boom lift is used only occasionally, you may be better off selling it and renting one when you need one.
Utilization data can also help you even out wear across your fleet. If one truck is used constantly while others haven’t moved in days or weeks, you might want to rotate those others in to reduce maintenance demands and associated costs.
5. Create a data-based lifecycle plan
Even well-maintained equipment doesn’t last forever. Knowing a machine’s utilization and maintenance history may help you determine when is the best time for you to sell it. You may want to sell equipment before the maintenance and repair costs increase and while the machine retains some of its residual value.
Building a data-based lifecycle plan that allows you to sell at the right time may help you lower your total cost of ownership and preserve capital you can spend elsewhere.
6. Build an accurate budget
With data from telematic devices, owners can build more accurate budgets for both equipment purchases and equipment operations. Tracking utilization, maintenance costs and fuel usage (which a telematics device can monitor) on every project helps you more accurately predict your costs on the next project.
Telematics data from owned equipment can also provide clues as to why your budgets veer off course. Did equipment-related downtime impact the project schedule? Was your fuel burn higher than you anticipated? More control over your spending means more control over your business and its future.
In today’s increasingly competitive construction environment, every hour and every dollar saved improves a construction firm’s outlook. Telematics devices, in tandem with fleet management software, can help owners stretch their fleet’s value, make their equipment more productive and stay profitable.