3 Ways to Use Technology to Protect Your Construction Equipment

Telematics can help you manage and safeguard your assets by providing a direct connection with your heavy equipment.


By Frank Schneider, Director of Product Management, CalAmp

One aspect of construction safety is protecting your heavy equipment. When assets are in good condition, the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns decreases. Unexpected breakdowns not only have the largest impact on operations, they are typically the most costly type of maintenance.

There are also the risks of unauthorized use and theft. Using equipment without permission opens the opportunity for injury to the operator, location and the asset, while a robbery means loss of project time and money to replace it.

IoT technology in the form of telematics can help you manage and safeguard your assets on both fronts by providing a direct connection with your heavy equipment.

Monitor Assets and Set Boundaries

When a mechanic maintains your vehicle, he or she has access to a lot of information about the state of the car from the electronic control system; it provides clues to potential problems before they occur. An asset telematics solution offers real-time access to some of the same information,  such as engine hour or odometer or hour readings, service interval indicators, hydraulics and more.

Utilization reports help managers stay on top of maintenance. They are also able to activate alerts to receive notifications when a threshold breaches, such as engine temperature or high idling. This actionable data allows managers to optimize their fleets and reduce the chance of a breakdown. It can also help extend the life of an asset by maintaining it properly.

Location-based analytics help protect your equipment and operators from unsafe situations. Within the telematics solution, there is an option to create virtual boundaries. This simple function provides a wealth of information in real-time and for reporting. Data is logged for any equipment found inside the geofence and alerts turned on for asset movement or when it enters or exits the area. This last point can be important if you define an area around unstable ground, such as wetlands or rockslides for all or certain classes of equipment. The notification and immediate follow-up help protect the equipment and its operator from sinking, sliding or turning over.

A prevalent issue with fleets is unauthorized use. There are two types. The first is a crewmember who borrows something for the weekend to finish a personal project or side job. We’ve even seen in our asset recovery bulletins someone renting equipment to someone else despite not owning it. The second is a person wanting to take a “joyride” around the site. This situation seems harmless until they are injured or the equipment or property are damaged. Technology provides this information through reports or event real-time alerts when an ignition turns on/off during certain hours defined by the manager.

Theft Recovery

The misuse of assets leads to our last protection area – theft. There are physical procedures and processes that safeguard your heavy equipment, ranging from fencing, to locks and chains, to security guards. However, implementing technology is an important step, as well. Solutions range from preventative to recovery or both.

Protection is about being aware and making your equipment visible remotely. With telematics, your fleet is locatable on a map or report even if your team doesn’t physically see it on site. Alert notifications of movement, entry/exit or ignition-on help you determine, using local knowledge, if the situation is suspect or not.

Unfortunately, heavy equipment is often a target of organized crime based on the parts and resale value. Asset telematics could help with locating the stolen item, and reports show the breadcrumb trail. However, thieves may remove or damage the devices. Therefore, investing in a solution that has a hidden device and directly ties into law enforcement might be the best chance at recovering your equipment.

In summary, by implementing asset telematics, contractors can get broad protection from several risks to their equipment in a cost-effective way, while gaining additional productivity benefits.

Frank Schneider is director of Product Management for CalAmp, and is responsible for leading corporate software product development initiatives.