Managing a mixed fleet of vehicles and specialist machinery is one of the biggest costs in any construction firm. Managing these assets is also very complex with maintenance schedules varying from one manufacturer to the next and so many pieces of equipment at different stages of their product lifecycle.
Failing to carry out timely maintenance can result in serious faults and costly repairs. Having these assets parked up for unscheduled repairs, or having to replace them, quickly eats into hard-earned profits. At the other end of the scale, carrying out unnecessary maintenance is a luxury you can ill afford in a competitive market.
How well your business manages this balancing act has a huge impact on productivity, operational efficiency and the safety of your workforce. So why do so many construction firms still manage these processes manually? With the right technology tools in your kit bag, you can manage a preventative maintenance schedule and maximise efficiency across your entire fleet.
Why preventative maintenance matters
Telematics software allows you to schedule every vehicle and machine for maintenance based on running hours or calendar days. Introducing a notification system ensures you don't overrun maintenance schedules, bringing much-needed accountability to the process and safeguarding against more expensive repairs further down the track. An engine belt is inexpensive, for example, but if it gets overused and snaps the knock-on effect is likely to be very costly.
Now that you have greater visibility of maintenance requirements you can plan ahead and manage fleet requirements more effectively across multiple sites. This prevents operators waiting around while machines are serviced or, even worse, refusing to put them in for repair because they're concerned a project will fall behind schedule. Some employees and contractors will delay scheduled maintenance given the chance but telematics ensures these tasks are executed on time and according to plan.
If you have a front loader that needs to be serviced every 250 hours or every three months your telematics system can be programmed to send an email to the person responsible a week before maintenance is due. This gives them plenty of time to schedule a service and for the maintenance department to order parts. If the service isn't booked within 72 hours, an alert can be sent to the site manager. Automated, documented processes also mean maintenance can be proved if there's an incident or dispute around warranty issues. A similar alert can also be sent when vehicles experience mechanical problems so repairs can be organised quickly.
Analytics and diagnostics
Even when you're managing maintenance schedules effectively across your fleet, you can still be tripped up by unexpected failures and malfunctions. These are harsh operating environments and this puts equipment under huge pressure at times. This is where advanced analytics and diagnostics are a huge advantage.
By monitoring fault codes, you can see when the performance of specific parts is starting to deteriorate before it becomes a real problem. If a machine has a partially blocked air filter, you might decide to log this as something that needs attention during the next scheduled service. If it has low oil pressure, on the other hand, you can let the operator know it should be shut down immediately to avoid serious damage. The engineer who heads out to do the repair on site already has the right parts for the job and downtime is kept to a minimum.
Machine operators are the first point of contact when it comes to keeping assets running efficiently. Knowing how to use every function and mode of operation on a machine is a key part of their training. Tracking behavior to ensure every asset is being used correctly improves productivity and is an important part of preventative maintenance. Data that indicates a machine sat idle in hot temperatures for long periods of time suggests poor operator training. If this happens repeatedly there's an opportunity to send warnings that machines should be turned off if they're inactive for more than five minutes.