KEEPING CRANES ON THE GRID AND CUSTOMERS HAPPY
As a provider of construction equipment and specialist hire across Australia and New Zealand, Preston Hire worked hard to get where it is today. Started by the Preston family in 1969 as a small crane and scaffolding equipment hire business, it’s now evolved into a powerhouse for all things construction related.
It’s a one-stop shop for over 2500 customers across Australia and offers a high level of service for its customers, while supporting 68 employees and housing over 2700 light vehicles, elevators, heavy vehicles and service cranes.
“We’re recognised by our customers and peers as a leader in the market with a strong commitment to safety, sustainability and quality control,” says Mike Thomas, Group Operations and Systems Manager at Preston Hire.
To maintain its strong reputation, Preston Hire needed an easier way to improve visibility across the multiple work sites it services. Hiring out cranes and specialists everyday invited the risk of disorganisation, and it was committed to never letting things fall by the wayside – so the team turned to telematics to help stay on top of operations.
Preston Hire’s partnership with Teletrac Navman started in 2008, when one of its larger cranes was legally required to enrol in the Intelligent Access program. It reached out to Teletrac Navman to supply it with the tools needed to access the road network. After getting an in-vehicle unit installed and seeing the accuracy of the data it collected, the team at Preston Hire wondered how fleet management technologies could improve other aspects of its day-to-day operations. With a large uptake in cranes in recent years due to the construction boom, Teletrac Navman recommended Preston Hire install tracking and its DIRECTOR software across its service cranes.
“We’re recognised by our customers and peers as a leader in the market with a strong commitment to safety, sustainability and quality control”
Previously, the business relied solely on manual processes like paperwork, hosting toolbox talks and getting feedback from customers to manage its daily operations, safety procedures and budgets. But after seeing the quality of data from installing Teletrac Navman’s solution on its large crane, it soon realised there was room for improvement. From there it began the process of installing tracking technology across its 101 service cranes.
“The perception from many is that it’s just a GPS system, but it’s so much more. The solution is a lot more involved and it delivers so many benefits that go beyond just telling us where our cranes are on a map,” says Thomas.
The technology tracks all of Preston Hire’s cranes, including movement and on-site activity. DIRECTOR in turn gives management and admin staff access to a range of data, such as work hours and the condition of its internals, so they can stay on top of maintenance, safety and continual delivery of great customer service.
Maximising health and safety
Safety is a major priority when operating in workplaces such as construction sites. Cranes by nature are large and incredibly heavy so it’s important to act quickly in the event of an incident. But they can be difficult to stay on top of. Preston Hire cranes manage around 60-70 movements a week, so if one broke down while on a customer worksite there was lots of time spent notifying management before appropriate action could be taken. Real-time tracking and alerts allow Preston Hire to stop relying on reactive protocols and better monitor the safety and wellbeing of its fleet.
“When we send out our equipment and operators, we want to ensure they’re safe at all times,” says Thomas. “That’s why we opted to install the most advanced units in our cranes to record anomalies, such as overriding. We want to know that our people are safe.”
The technology tracks the exact location and work hours of the cranes, to ensure they’re operating as expected and that, in the event of an incident, staff are notified immediately via alerts so they can act quickly.
“We’ve signed up to be more a proactive organisation in terms of our preventative maintenance and alerts. Before a crane is due for a check-up, the system notifies our staff beforehand, so they can prepare that crane for service. It will be pulled off-site and swapped out with another machine to ensure there’s no interruption to workflow. It makes us a lot more proactive in terms of safety and puts us way ahead of our competitors,” says Thomas.
“That’s why we opted to install the most advanced units in our cranes to record anomalies, such as overriding. We want to know that our people are safe.”
Added customer value overall
Having objective data lets Preston Hire offer a level of transparency to its customers. Teletrac Navman’s DIRECTOR allows admin staff to compile data into easy-to-read reports that make invoicing a far easier process.
“We’re able to provide transparency for our customers by giving them access to our assets that work on their sites. It’s something was impossible in the past. We can see exactly what’s happening with our machines and operators, no matter where they are,” says Thomas.
Knowing the location and work activity of cranes means Preston Hire can bill with more accuracy and doesn’t need to worry about under- or over-servicing its equipment.
“Previously we’d have to wait for a machine to return to base and undergo a manual service, and then have our admin team create an invoice. That manual process opened us up to the risk of false information. We might not time a return correctly, which then led to an incorrect invoice. We don’t have that problem anymore as we get alerts the second a machine returns through our gates,” says Thomas.
The road ahead
Preston Hire and Teletrac Navman are only getting started in their partnership. Thomas is eager to roll out more solutions to assist with calculating the organisation’s fuel tax credit rebates and plans to continue working closely with Teletrac Navman to improve service and operations.
“Teletrac Navman has been great to work with. The team is always happy to drop in and help us with any issues or training. They’ve been patient and supportive as they walk us through the process. From the start we knew they were the right company for us to work with, and that’s only been enhanced and backed up by their ongoing support,” says Thomas.