Relatively unknown in the construction industry just a few years ago, equipment monitoring and logistics technology has since gained widespread implementation, particularly as manufacturers started to incorporate proprietary systems on equipment directly from the factory.
This technology has proven revolutionary in terms of the data it can provide to both equipment owners and dealers. Contrary to early concerns about “big brother” type oversight, transmission of data directly from the machine to the dealer is facilitating faster, more effective service. And once shared with the manufacturer, this data is being used to generate design changes to correct problems and/or enhance machine performance.
Of course, not all equipment comes factory equipped with an equipment monitoring system. This is where third-party suppliers come into play. Since there are a range of alternatives on the market, it can be challenging to determine which system can offer the most value to your particular operation.
When considering equipment monitoring technology, it’s important to identify your objectives in advance. Systems are available that offer a very specific function (e.g., theft prevention) or a combination of functions. If your biggest concern is theft, a system designed specifically for this purpose will be sufficient. But if you anticipate your needs changing over time, you may want to look at systems with greater capabilities, or those built on a modular platform that will enable you to add features and functionality as the need arises.
Assess the type of data that would be most valuable in managing your fleet. Many systems offer report capabilities that allow you to track equipment activity in the field, service/repair needs, productivity and other information over a period of time. The resulting reports can be used to control equipment costs by enabling you to:
• identify and re-assign or eliminate under-utilized equipment on a jobsite;
• streamline service operations by using actual captured operating hours to plan preventive maintenance functions;
• determine when the cost to maintain aging equipment begins to exceed a specific threshold for replacement;
• pinpoint poor driver or operator performance/techniques that may be impacting equipment productivity and/or operating costs, and more.
Determine the number and/or types of equipment you need to monitor. Currently, most equipment suppliers offer equipment monitoring technology as standard only on larger, high-dollar equipment. This makes economic sense given the higher cost to own and operate these machines.
Yet, you may find value in using the technology on a broader range of equipment. For example, if you have problems with unauthorized off-hour use of certain machine types, or the theft of compact equipment (e.g., skid steers) is common in the areas in which you’re working, equipment monitoring can help to reduce or prevent the losses that can result. Or you may want to outfit certain machine types used in especially challenging applications or environments to ensure proper service intervals are maintained.
Don’t let fleet size be a limiting factor. Systems are available that can be tailored to your specific needs, regardless of the number and types of equipment in your fleet. Finding the right system just takes a little homework. To help you get started, turn to our Technology Trends coverage starting on page 42, or find more information at ForConstructionPros.com. ET