Posted February 7, 2023

Build Your Business -- Eliminate data re-entry

Why eliminating data re-entry is critical to building your business.

by Lærke Ullerup

Whether you are checking and reporting returning assets from work sites or stock-taking at the rental center, manual data entry is susceptible to errors. This inevitably leads to incorrect data being added to company’s operational systems.

Repetitive tasks cost organizations time, equipment downtime and money because staff are often preoccupied by checking spreadsheets and allocating rebates or transcribing notes.

Switching from manual to digital data entry processes alleviates problems with data entry. The are several ways telemetry technology can solve typical problems found with manual data entry.

End the paper jam
Technology is improving many facets of rental, and the need to record information has increased in importance. The ability to interrogate greater amounts of data provides insights into rental asset utilization. It also helps to introduce innovations and allows rental organizations to operate more efficiently.

Relatively menial and time-consuming tasks can be digitalized and data can be extracted from a telematic device, which enables managers to better manage the business and speed asset through-put.

When manual tasks are removed from the job site manager’s role, it allows them time to allocate resources elsewhere and take some of the stress from the job.

Task hand-off
Paper forms are still common for collecting data. Later, this data must be re-entered into a computer, often by a different staff member. This presents two potential error risks.

First, when the data is captured, it may be recorded incorrectly. Second, when the data is re-entered with errors, it  either compounds the initial problem or introduces additional inconsistencies between the machine being returned and its digital twin.

Poor data impacts productivity, disguises asset issues, damages reputations and increases financial costs. The real-world impact: companies create ineffective strategies based on incorrect data.  

Eliminate human error
Dealing with red tape is labor intensive, tiring and prone to error when time and deadlines lead to hasty decisions. Rental yards and job sites, by their very definition, are hazardous places and errors have a habit of multiplying.

The general consensus is that manual data entry contributes one percent error to the data-gathering process, which can proliferate with every subsequent re-entry of the data.

Employees already use mobile devices for image and data collection. Utilizing a rental app on an employee’s mobile device collects all of the information he or she needs quickly and easily. This provides real-time information on the state of repair or disrepair of rental assets, what needs to be fixed immediately and the best allocation of fleet resources.

When workers are involved, their safety is paramount. Telemetry is now viewes as a safety net that can help remove risk-taking.

Changing the bottom line
Real-time data collection enables rental managers to dramatically impact the utilization of equipment, enabling much more efficient use of assets. Real-time data shows when equipment needs servicing. It can mitigate machine misuse  and improve machine maintenance records while reducing the potential for greater ownership costs later.

Telemetry-based data collection can also indicate when a machine is being under-utilized or its productivity is down. Rental companies now proactively talk to customers where this is the case to help their customers save money. Recalling a non-productive machine from a client allows it to be serviced and rented to a site that needs the machine, increasing the rental operator’s fleet utilization.

Real-time utilization insights are the platform for higher fleet of availability and revenue. Further, the ability to achieve maximum accuracy from data collection relies on standardized processes that are designed to reduce errors.

Reduce job site visits
Data sharing allows rental operators to see what is happening across all their connected machines and equipment. This capability provides a birds-eye view of what’s happening right in front of them on their screen.

While it won’t completely negate the need for time-consuming project site visits, the rental office will have insights into the machine’s reason for failure and a technician can be dispatched with appropriate spares for a one-time visit. This ensures fewer exploratory callouts to sites and reduces the time to solution so the machine can go back on rent.

In an increasingly competitive market, the benefits are clear. It’s less stressful for the fleet manager, less wasted time spent in traffic for technicians, helps sustainability as it reduces Scope 1 emissions and allows service team time to be allocated elsewhere.

Fuel management systems
In the current climate, telemetry users are increasingly interested in the insights real-time data can deliver in respect of fuel management.

Data can help customers clearly understand where fuel is being used. It can show which units are operating inefficiently and provide insights for significant fuel savings that can directly contribute to the bottom line.

Accurate, real-time data is essential for fuel management systems, and once implemented, provides on-going savings. 

Going green
Many of the arguments for eliminating data re-entry are underpinned by efficiency, effective utilization and better allocation of resources. An inevitable result is a sustainability benefit in the reduction of carbon emissions. Fleet managers can actually record these emissions with greater accuracy using digital devices.

Only a few years ago, this argument would not have been easy to make, partly because the technology was not available to deliver data effectively in these areas and partly because it might not have been a priority for businesses.

That has changed on both fronts as businesses see the benefits of a strong sustainability record underpinned by the technology. This is especially true where project owners increasingly require strict carbon emissions standards from their rental providers. For many, being on the right side of the line on environmental issues has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have feature, creating close alignment between technology and the rental sector to cultivate better emissions outcomes throughout construction.

Following protocol
Data standardization, such as SAE J1939 protocol, offers a common method for communication across heavy-duty vehicles and a non-proprietary platform across OEMs equipment. Increasing awareness from OEMs for the need for more valuable data and pressure from customers for provide access to machine data is driving its availability.

Accurate, rich data is essential for reporting and forecasting. It helps rental businesses become more efficient and complete activities that are crucial for business continuity.

The construction equipment rental market had a value of $73.44 billion in 2021 and has a projected compound annual growth rate of 3.9 percent between 2022 and 2029. The rising cost of purchasing construction equipment and integrating new advanced technologies is encouraging companies to turn their attention toward renting equipment as a stable strategy to maintain financial security.

This increases service improvement with onsite supporting services and optimal data processing in remote locations, which affect your ability to achieve greater return on investment (ROI).


Laerke Ullerup, Trackunit

Lærke Ullerup is chief marketing and products officer at Trackunit, a technology company that orchestrates the data and infrastructure that connects construction.

This article was originally produced to appear in the March-April 2023 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine. ®2023 Urbain Communications LLC. All rights reserved.