Service Tips: Top 10 benefits of telematics

By Kendall Jones

Telematics systems combine GPS technology, on-board diagnostics and sensors to track, log and report data via cellular networks on the performance and operation of your construction equipment. Data from telematics systems are typically accessed through a web portal and can provide data on a number of machine systems.

Common data points include GPS location, fuel consumption, idle times and machine alerts. Equipment manufacturers are installing telematics systems as standard equipment on an increasing number of their product offerings each year.

Equipment owners using telematics data are reaping benefits such as improved productivity and reduced operating costs. Here are the top 10 benefits of using telematics systems to monitor and control your heavy equipment:

1. Asset allocation
Telematics data can show how much each machine is being used on active sites. By analyzing telematics data, it’s possible to determine if equipment allocations for a job are too much or too little. It can help identify equipment that may be sitting at a project site unused for weeks and could be redeployed to another site. On the other hand, it can identify whether operators are overworking machines to keep the project on schedule.
Telematics data can show exactly where and how much your equipment is being used. Over time, this data will help identify underused assets that may be divested or whether it’s time to invest in more equipment.

2. Schedule maintenance and repairs
Telematics technologies continue to evolve, providing even more data points to equipment owners. Sensors and onboard scales are being incorporated into the design of new machines that can capture and report data from a number of systems. Everything from fuel consumption to fault codes can easily be monitored.

Integrating telematics data into a maintenance management program can assist in better scheduling preventive maintenance and repairs. Accurately tracking engine and working hours ensures equipment isn’t pulled out of service too early or too late to perform preventive maintenance. Telematics systems can also alert managers when equipment isn’t operating at peak performance, which could be an indication that a component is failing and needs to be replaced. Identifying problems early can help extend the life of equipment and reduce repair and labor costs.

3. Operator performance
Telematics data can help improve the efficiency of equipment operators by identifying bad habits like prolonged idling time. Speeding, erratic movements and overloading a machine are all safety hazards that can lead to rollovers and equipment tipping. By monitoring telematics data, operators who are overworking or misusing equipment can be identified and contacted to correct behavior, leading to reduced labor costs, avoid accelerated equipment wear and result in safer work sites.

4. Reduce theft
GPS tracking and geo-fencing systems can alert managers the moment equipment leaves the job site. Time-fencing can send alerts when equipment is being operated outside of scheduled work hours, which could indicate someone is trying to make off with the equipment. Some systems even allow remote shut-down if unauthorized use is detected and it can prevent engine starting during set hours.

With telematics and GPS technology, managers can track and locate all equipment from one location, so if equipment goes missing, it can provide the local authorities with its location for faster recovery.

5. Reduce fuel consumption
Reducing fuel consumption is one of the biggest money savers telematics systems have solved. By monitoring idling time vs. work time on equipment, operators responsible for wasting fuel can be contacted. Reducing idle times can also extend engine life and reduce repair and maintenance costs.  

6. Fuel tax refunds
The federal government and states collect excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. These taxes are used to fund road construction and highway maintenance projects. Businesses that use fuel for off-road purposes, such as construction equipment, are eligible for refunds on the federal level and by many state governments. Telematics data, GPS tracking data and fuel consumption information can be easily used to build records of how much fuel was used off-road. Note: Tax credits or refunds are not given if using red-dyed diesel fuel meant for off-road use because it is not taxed in the first place.

7. Impact insurance premiums
Some insurance providers will reduce or eliminate deductibles or provide discounts on equipment with GPS tracking and geo-fencing alert capabilities installed. Depending on the fleet size, this can result in huge insurance cost savings. Monitoring and correcting unsafe operating behavior by operators will help reduce the number of accidents on job sites, which could also help save on insurance costs.

8. Improve job estimates
Using telematics data can lead to more accurate job costing and estimates. Telematics can provide machine hours and fuel usage to determine operating costs that can be combined with labor costs for more accurate billing. Analyzing past data on previous projects will help you better predict how much a specific task or job will cost on future projects. This will result in more accurate estimates.

9. Manage operating expenses
It’s important to keep track of equipment operating costs because many owners determine the lifecycle of a machine as being when the operating costs begin to exceed ownership costs. Fuel consumption, preventive maintenance, operator wages, repairs and tire/track costs all make up operating costs. Telematics data can help identify areas where operating costs can be reduced by minimizing idling time or correcting operator behavior.

10. Improve productivity
Having a better understanding of how, when and where construction equipment is being used can lead to increased productivity on the job site. Operator performance can be coached when equipment isn’t being operated under normal parameters. Overworking or underutilizing equipment can be better managed by understanding telematics data. Know where each piece of equipment is at all times and how much each one is being used allows better equipment deployment and utilization.

Telematics will also allow you to schedule preventive maintenance when needed and avoid pulling equipment out of service too early, or worse, too late when costlier repairs might be required.

Kendall Jones is editor in chief at blog. ConstructConnect is a leading provider of construction information and technology solutions in North America.

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