The following is a guest post by construction industry blogger James White.
Telematics is a broad area that connects data monitoring and potentially remote control in a variety of application areas. Vehicle tracking and monitoring is one common application, but another really important area of application is equipment telematics: maintaining cognizance and control over heavy equipment in the field.
Equipment telematics provides the opportunity to use radio frequency identification to track machines, and even to learn how to better use equipment for greater efficiency. General contractors, subcontractors and most other principals in construction projects can benefit from equipment telematics.
Catching the Wave of Success
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers reports that 22% of U.S. construction companies are planning to use telematics in the coming 18 months. That estimate may be low, and there may be a strong impetus to move higher based on successful case studies that show the benefits of equipment telematics.
For example, one company that attended the Association of Equipment Management Professional symposium held in Nashville in 2014 said equipment telematics helped it pinpoint equipment that was spending too much time idling. This idle time had cost the company more than $17,000 in wasted fuel.
Managers can also employ telematics to gain situational awareness on a suite of equipment in action. This can help in planning for how best to use the equipment, how much equipment to have and what types of equipment to employ. It can also point to ways to enhance safety.
Staying Alert with Telematics
A telematic network can alert managers when equipment is out of position or has been idle for longer than a set or planned period of time. Managers can actually monitor equipment speed and set up email systems to alert them if equipment is moving too quickly.
Improving Equipment Maintenance
Telematics can also give managers an advantage when it comes to maintaining equipment. Fault codes on equipment can be sent directly to managers and maintenance personnel. This saves time and money wasted on unanticipated downtime. It can also help managers anticipate incipient failures and take action before they occur.
It follows that a manager with broad cognizance over a suite of equipment has less chance to have that equipment be stolen. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that only 21 percent of stolen equipment in 2013 was recovered. With telematics in place, that percentage is likely to be much higher.
Equipment telematics combines modern data communications with tracking and monitoring equipment to provide managers with a potentially system-wide view of their project in action. It can help:
- Identify points of inefficiency
- Assist with project design and execution
- Increase safety
- Decrease the likelihood of losing equipment on-site
As telematics continues to become more popular, there will be an increasing need for software tools to help managers get the most from the data they acquire. Today’s software applications include cloud-based platforms that help managers with the entire lifecycle of their projects, such as BuildingBlok. New equipment is already combining GPS with electronics and database tools. For example, Patten Cat offers equipment that can combine sensor information from sonic, laser, GPS and other sensors.
In addition to using equipment telematics to look for important equipment conditions or having automatic preset alerts, software that has computational intelligence can actively employ telematics to find meaningful patterns in available data and suggest opportunities for future or immediate improvements. It may even be possible to network information across separate projects to help managers benefit from what can be learned away from their own construction site.
For now, equipment telematics is receiving good reviews and pointing to ways to rapidly improve performance. Look for it to become increasingly common in the coming years.
BIO: James White is an experienced home improvement blogger and construction worker. His writing has appeared in many publications, including True Look, Constructonomics and The Blok. James is involved in promoting the ideas of sustainable building and construction safety. And, when he’s not saving the planet through his blogging, James revels in exploring the latest developments in construction and manufacturing industries, its history, its advancements, and where we will be tomorrow.