It’s hard to imagine life before smartphones and the digital world, and its even harder to remember that this technology barely existed even a decade ago. Construction has seen its fair share of rapid technological change in recent years, and this trend is only continuing to flourish and reshape the industry.
Telematic solutions were first introduced in the late 90’s, with machine control GPS making big strides in the construction industry in the 2000’s. What was once a “nice-to-have” is now an everyday necessity for the industry. It informs every aspect, from job site management to equipment utilisation.
But this is just the beginning. A recent Teletrac Navman Benchmark survey found that 90 per cent of construction companies, including those in the mining and oil and gas industries, plan further technological investment in 2017. While 62 per cent said they were currently looking at new technologies and systems, 35 per cent either have plans to implement or have implemented them in 2017.
Some of it, such as fatigue monitoring, is driven by regulation, but many organisations (48 per cent) cited increasing profits or reducing operational costs (41 per cent) as their motivation.
Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Construction
When most people think of autonomous technology, they think of self-driving cars. But there are many steps along the way to that point, and the fact is that autonomous technology is no longer fodder for science fiction writers – it’s here today.
“When it comes to adopting technology, heavy equipment tends to follow the automotive sector by about 10 years,” said Tudor Van Hampton, managing editor of construction-industry publication Engineering News-Record. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class and E-Class models continue to be a postive example of this. Features such as semi autonomous driving and automated in-vehicle warning systems have revolutionised they way the industry thinks about driving. Their success mean these trends will trickle down and into the over-the-road trucking sector, and from there, off-road heavy equipment.
The mining industry is already embracing autonomous technology as both an efficiency and safety mechanism. Automation is in full effect in the Pilbara iron ore mines in Western Australia. There, remote controlled driverless vehicles deliver loads more efficiently while keeping operators out of harm’s way.
One of the integral features of the modern construction job site is remote diagnostics, also known as telematics. Telematics brings the Internet of Things (IoT) to vehicles and other equipment using sensors to monitor equipment use and behavior. "I believe that Australian and New Zealand contractors are at the forefront of technology adoption, demonstrating their desire to improve how they manage their asset and businesses," says James French, the Application Specialist for Teletrac Navman.
Additional Benefits to Construction
There’s a fundamental shift taking place in the construction industry. Organisations are seeing the value of investing in new systems and technologies. While telematics, such as GPS fleet tracking, have made themselves a home within many businesses across the industry, there’s many other functions, such as in-vehicle data analytics, which are not yet to be seen as an everyday necessity. With the cost of new technology continuing to fall and efficiency and safety on the job sites becoming more important than ever, there’s opportnity for telematics to lend a helping hand.
“Fuel efficiency, for example, is in large part driven by how skilled the operator is at making that tool do its job; an operator who’s using more horsepower than he needs uses more fuel,” says Van Hampton. The Teletrac Navman survey found that more than half of all organisations using telematics have seen reduced fuel costs, some realising up to a 40 per cent reduction. Without telematics these issues may would go undetected and costing the business.
As technology evolves so will the construction industry. Adopting telematics not only delivers insights into better utilisation of assets but improves safety and business expenses overall. This is just the first step.
For more information on the 2017 Teletrac Navman Telematics Benchmark Report: Global Construction Edition, fill in the form below to download the full report or watch the video for some interesting insight!