Spirit Underground has been using the GlobalTRACS system for approximately one year. Prior to that, the company used data sheets, produced by the employees who fueled the equipment, to track this information. "We find that they are not real accurate sometimes," says Walker. "You are relying on people and people make mistakes." The GlobalTRACS ensures a level of confidence in the data. "It has eliminated the paperwork with my fuelers having to write all of this stuff down."
It also makes it easy to spot under-utilized equipment. "In that regard, it has helped," says Walker.
The equipment manager also uses software with the GlobalTRACS system to track service intervals. "Say it is at 750 hours and we need to service it at 1,000 hours - it alerts him," says Walker. "When he prints the report, it highlights the piece of equipment when it gets close. Then it will highlight the equipment when it is there or has gone over the hours. So it is a good way for him to track his services." The complete maintenance and repair history for each piece of equipment is tracked by this software.
Spirit Underground is also using GlobalTRACS as a theft recovery system. "We do use the geo-fencing and we are still trying to perfect that," says Walker. "We get guys who sometimes move equipment without telling us. It always alerts us. In that regard, it is really good."
As a theft recovery system, the GlobalTRACS has proven itself. "We have had a couple of occasions where it has already worked for us," says Walker. "We have used it three different times where we located pieces of equipment that were stolen. We recovered all three basically within hours after we got in the next day."
Walker explains that rapid theft recovery is important to prevent downtime. Consider one piece of equipment that was discovered missing at 8 a.m. "By about 8:30 a.m., we had it back on the job working," says Walker. If the equipment had not been recovered in a timely fashion, he would have needed to call a rental company to bring a piece of equipment out. "We may or may not have got it that day."
Walker reports that it cost approximately $895 for the GlobalTRACS unit and the monitoring fee is around $25. "It is not constantly communicating with the system. It hits once a day to get all of the information," he notes. You can choose to transfer information from the equipment more than once a day. However, after a set number of transfers, the monitoring fee will increase nominally.
Theft recovery justifies system
Surrey, BC-based Targa Contracting is an underground utility and road construction company that implemented a wireless equipment management system from Longview Advantage to combat equipment theft. "We actually started out because our Bobcat was stolen," says Rita Finnbogason.
The company installed the tracking system on the new Bobcat and a compressor since these units are mobile, and therefore easily stolen. "Then we had one of our Cat backhoes stolen," says Finnbogason. "We decided we had to get this on all of the equipment. We have been using this system since last summer."
Finnbogason uses geo-fences around jobsites to keep track of equipment. These are electronic boundaries that are determined by the user. "If I put a fence on it, then if it goes out of bounds, we get notified right away," says Finnbogason. "I get e-mailed here at work and then they follow up by phoning me."
Employees need to learn to communicate when moving equipment. Finnbogason reports that when the system was first implemented, employees sometimes forgot to notify her that the equipment was being moved and she would receive phone calls from the theft prevention service. "Now we are in the swing of it. They tell me all of the time. It works out real well," she says.
The system also helps reduce unauthorized use. Employees tended to borrow tools such as skid steers to perform work around their homes. "It would disappear and come back," says Finnbogason. "But now everybody asks." It is also easier to track where the equipment is for service. "And once in a while the boss wants to know where it is."
But recovering stolen equipment has been the greatest success. "We had an incident with the Bobcat," says Finnbogason. At the time, there was not a geo-fence around the unit. "That is what prompted us to start using the fence-the guys went to the site and the Bobcat was gone. I got a call from the boss and he was trying to figure out how to track it. We got it up on the screen and found out where it was. They took it and just parked it on the side of the street. They were going to wait and see what happened. We recovered it right away."