Most modern vehicles ship with a dizzying array of sensors that provide valuable insight into everything that’s going on under the bonnet. It’s the same with machinery. The increasing sophistication of GPS fleet management systems means you can tap into this wealth of data and move well beyond knowing which equipment is at what site.
Yet collecting this data is useless unless you’re able to connect the dots and see the bigger picture. Which is why integration with your fleet management system is vital. It collates information from different sources and makes it easier to act on it. Here’s how it will make a difference on your construction sites.
1. Fleet & Asset Utilisation
Operators are sometimes reluctant to let a piece of machinery out of sight in case they need it later and can’t get it back. When a new job comes in, you start hiring extra equipment in because it looks like current vehicles or machinery is unavailable. All too often, they’re sitting idle. Trackers give you real-time vehicle information so you know whether that backhoe loader is really being used.
Example: Qtanium Connect harvests information from Qube asset tracking devices to monitor a range of activities such as speed, fuel use and ignition status and can integrate with construction ERP solutions like Viewpoint. That way, you know exactly if each piece of equipment is in use, or being kept just-in-case.
2. Fault Codes
New heavy vehicles come equipped with CANBUS, which manages the motor and record issues through an array of sensors. The biggest problem as a fleet operator is what happens next. Not all fault codes generate a warning light, while those that do have priority which may dictate how urgently the fault should be looked at. Often, it relies on a driver to notice and report a problem and If the vehicle is on a job site this might not happen for some time, resulting in unnecessary wear and tear. “Check engine” is vague and doesn’t distinguish degrees of seriousness, while some heavy vehicles have more than 40,000 codes, which further complicates management. A diagnostic solution integrated with GPS fleet management software lets the maintenance team know there’s a problem and manage repairs to minimise lost productivity.
Example: Noregon’s TripVision uses manufacturer fault codes and analytics to determine the cause, as well rate the severity, of a problem.
3. Better Maintenance
Greater insight into fault codes will speed up vehicle repairs but it’s just one way to improve maintenance practices. There’s an unfortunate tendency in the construction industry to take the workhorse philosophy to heart and run heavy vehicles into the ground. By monitoring and analysing maintenance, you can ensure vehicles are getting serviced when they need it, so they run more efficiently and minor issues don’t lead to greater damage. You can also identify trends, such as a vehicle with an unusually frequent fault, that might point to an underlying issue.
Example: MEX’s Fleet MEX offers detailed tracking of vehicles including insurance, depreciation, work history, outstanding repairs and spare parts used.
4. Workplace Habits
There’s an urban legend about a family who always cut the end off their Christmas turkey before roasting. When someone finally enquires why, it turns out that grandma did it because she didn’t have a big enough pan. Subsequent generations kept doing it for no reason. The construction industry is a little like this in that behaviours long outlive their purpose. Machines are left idling for hours, a carryover from the days when a diesel engine could not be restarted for half an hour. It’s unnecessary now and leads to over-servicing because maintenance schedules are based on engine hours. Similarly, people often keep using current equipment because it “does the job” even though another piece of machinery would do it more efficiently. With visibility into idle time or when a grader is generating high RPMs because it’s being used as a mini bulldozer, these issues can be addressed.
Example Qtanium Connect can be used to access the AEMP data from OEM GPS trackers and our Qubes, ensuring that all the information is one place.
5. Vehicle Use
Most of your employees or contactors are dependable and trustworthy. Sadly, it only takes a few cowboys for costs to take their toll. With the ability to determine that a vehicle’s fuel use matches the amount that was charged you can minimise loss. And it’s not just dishonesty. Your clients are increasingly reluctant to pay for idle engine hours, so you need to accurately track usage. It’s also important for ensuring machines are not violating noise restriction laws or lying idle when work should be underway. Usage patterns will help determine which hours needs to be billed at contract or hourly rates to simplify invoicing.
Example: Viewpoint and other construction project management software solutions help to manage workflows and automate accounting. You can feed fleet tracker information directly into it.
6. Road Safety
In an analysis of construction industry fatalities between 2002 and 2013, Safe Work Australia determined that vehicle collision was the second most common cause, accounting for 16 per cent of deaths. Those fatalities are on the decline but more work needs to be done. Monitoring excessive speed and harsh braking highlights areas for driver training. Research from the University of Sydney cited fatigue as the main risk factor in construction incidents, so telematics has a vital role to play in ensuring your drivers take adequate breaks. Looking further down the road, integrating biometric devices with GPS fleet management software will detect that a driver is too tired to be behind the wheel and provide an alert.
Example: Seeing Machine’s Guardian combines a sensor and forward-facing camera, using face and eye tracking algorithms to spot signs of fatigue, alerting the driver and your telematics.
Your construction business has unprecedented access to valuable data that will improve decision making. Analysing and acting on it will deliver benefits to your bottom line while improving safety across your sites.