But it doesn’t make sense to install these devices on every piece of equipment. “Anything that costs less than about $20,000 we typically self insure,” says Meek. The systems are used on the larger, more expensive, equipment.
“We probably have 300 tracking units between equipment and vehicles,” he adds. Right now, there are three different systems in use. But they are being consolidated as older units are replaced with the FMS systems. “I think we have 175 FMS units. We are happy with them thus far. I don’t think we have had any failures.”
Durability was a concern with the other systems. “(The previous suppliers) did not build a unit that was meant for heavy equipment,” says Meek. “They put them in shock-resistant boxes, packed them with foam and so forth, but the units just were not made to take that kind of beating.”
Meek says these systems address the two key concerns — maximizing utilization and retrieving stolen units. He explains that he needs to know if he can get by with 10 fewer backhoes through better utilization and moving them around. With these systems, manual hour tracking previously performed by supervisors is now captured automatically. Logistics have also improved. “It is much easier to know where the equipment is,” he adds.
Meek feels there are more benefits to be discovered. “I’m sure it does a whole lot more than I am aware of,” he admits.