Get Past the Telematics Data Dumps

Don't let the risk of information overload keep you from experiencing the benefits of telematics technology.

When it comes to talk of available technologies for construction, telematics has become almost commonplace in light of the higher “wow factor” systems and gadgets that have emerged. Yet, it has perhaps the highest probability to deliver more productivity, efficiency and overall ROI to your jobsites than any solution currently available.

For many, adoption and implementation of telematics remains a very fresh topic — one that can be rather intimidating to ponder. It’s not that installation is difficult. Third-party suppliers have removed much of the barriers to entry by offering plug-and-play solutions at an increasingly affordable price per machine. In addition, many heavy equipment suppliers offer telematics as standard on larger models, typically with a free limited-term subscription, enabling contractor customers to tread lightly and cost effectively into the data capture realm.

But for some, telematics’ data capture capabilities are actually a deterrent to adoption. There are those who see telematics as necessitating a major commitment in time, resources and potential costs to implement and employ, even if the system comes standard with the machine. There are also concerns about the learning curve to utilize the system and analyze the data as it comes in.

There was a time when GPS-based machine grade control saw similar objections. It was viewed as too expensive and too complicated to take on. But as costs began to come down, and more contractors recognized its ability to actually cut time and expense on projects, a growing number of construction firms came to view it as an essential tool to be competitive in their operations.

Telematics technology has already become an essential asset management tool in the on-road trucking sector. It is crucial to monitoring not only vehicle movement and location, but vehicle performance and uptime, maintenance and service requirements and driver behavior and training needs.

The off-road sector has a unique opportunity to boost productivity and performance on a level it hasn’t experienced in decades. The benefits of telematics may be outlined in The Contractor’s Guide to Truck Telematics, but such benefits aren’t limited to trucks — they extend to nearly all elements of a construction fleet.

Yes, there are aspects to telematics that can appear daunting, particularly the interpretation and analysis of the data generated. Fortunately, today’s systems are set up to filter incoming data into useful reports that help give the data context. Construction equipment manufacturers also offer services specifically designed to take analysis of the data off your hands and place it in the hands of a trained and dedicated staff and equipment dealers, who in turn will notify you when certain trends emerge or problems occur that require action.

For anyone who may have been an early adopter of telematics and was turned off by the complexity of that first generation of systems, I urge you to take another look. There is much to be gained from today’s technology, and the systems will only become more valuable in future as more capabilities are added. It won’t be long before telematics solutions, like 3D grade control, are viewed as an integral component to becoming, and remaining, competitive on the jobsite.