Telematics has long been regarded as being the basis for tracking the location of vehicles and mobile equipment on construction sites. In the construction industry, equipment rental companies provide a valuable service to contractors for meeting the short-term and variable equipment demands of any project. However, when rental equipment or vehicles are deployed on a job site, monitoring them through telematics for location, utilization, and maintenance typically remains the responsibility of the rental company and not the contractor. Most equipment rental companies and equipment dealers with rental operations have a broad mix of equipment and vehicle types and brands in their fleet, which increases the complexity and challenge of leveraging telematics across operations.
Managing vehicle fleets and drivers
Vehicles and drivers are always on the move to deliver and pick up rental equipment or to provide on-site maintenance and repair services. Every deployment must be scheduled and dispatched, including route planning and optimization to minimize extra travel time and fuel consumption. Knowing the locations for equipment delivery and pickup is essential for effective scheduling.
Not only is it important to effectively plan their routes between destinations, but by monitoring how they operate the vehicles organizations can realize significant savings in fuel costs and avoid unnecessary vehicle wear and tear. Telematics hardware and software enables a better understanding of driver behavior and can help organizations to provide additional education and safety training to their drivers. Reporting allows dispatchers to monitor actions such as a driver deviating from their route, or excessive acceleration and harsh braking incidents.
Vehicles also require maintenance to remain in optimal operating condition. By using telematics solutions to monitor vehicle mileage, engine hours, location, and faults, vehicle fleet managers are better able to predict and plan for vehicle maintenance and downtime. In a business that depends on having reliable hauling and service vehicles, proactive vehicle maintenance help ensure fleet availability, and extends vehicle lifespan and helps fleet managers provide adequate fleet capacity.
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Managing rental equipment
A rental company’s goal is to maximize the utilization of their rental fleet, which is impacted by equipment availability. Availability may be impacted by the constant scheduling and movement of equipment between customers and job sites, which makes it difficult to manage and maintain assets and understand usage. With rental periods lasting weeks or months, equipment must be maintained while out on rental. A persistent problem rental companies face is locating the equipment efficiently as customers often move assets around and away from the site of delivery. As a result, customer response times suffer, and the productivity of the service technicians is affected, decreasing the number of completed requests.
Rental organizations provide value to their customers by providing equipment that operates optimally and without interruption during rental contracts. To ensure the rental fleet is in top operating shape, companies must proactively plan, schedule, and complete preventive maintenance on their equipment. In many situations, the downtime of a piece of rental equipment poses a considerable cost to a construction business. The ability of the rental company to perform maintenance at more opportune times, for example when the equipment is not needed operationally, can have dramatic results. Construction jobs run on tight margins and have many cross-dependencies between tasks. A piece of equipment that is down can bring the entire project to a halt, impacting much more than the function it was designed to perform.
Telematics technology provides a solution to these challenges. Having visibility to equipment location, utilization, and health information, including faults and diagnostic codes, through a telematics data feed dramatically improves a rental company’s ability to deliver timely maintenance and service. When a rental organization can predict when their fleet requires maintenance, and proactively plan the service intervention with their customers, they ensure that their customers remain productive and become the customer’s partner, rather than just an equipment provider.
Automating your operations
Telematics deployments are becoming much more cost-effective, enabling the entire rental operation to become increasingly connected and automated. Telematics today can share real-time information and connect mobile workers in the field with the back office, customers and equipment, allowing the entire service workflow to be more connected.
When a piece of rental equipment is dropped off or picked up from a customer site, communication between the delivery drivers and the back office is often done manually and on pieces of paper. Also, the scheduling and routes that these drivers or service technicians take may be planned manually, which can create errors and inefficiencies. Rental companies can look to address these issues and improve operational efficiency by leveraging telematics integration with scheduling solutions to automate pickup and delivery schedules. Intelligent scheduling software enables rental businesses to optimize routes and schedules for the day and gain insight into what is happening in the field in real-time to manage processes including; tracking arrival times efficiently, distances traveled, stops made.
The future of telematics for rentals
Rental companies that invest in telematics-driven connected workflows will see many benefits.
These workflows require a tight connection from the asset and vehicle to the scheduling system, and telematics is integral to providing this connection. Having the visibility to monitor the location and utilization of vehicle rental fleets with telematics technology can help rental businesses to manage customer demand, boost efficiencies and maintain a healthy ROI.