Equipment telematics is taling the paperwork out of managing equipment

Slowly, clipboards are giving way to tablets and smart phones as more construction companies adopt equipment telematics. (Copyright: ndoeljindoel / 123RF Stock Photo)

By James White

Modern construction equipment and machinery now includes advanced technology for optimizing safety, efficiency and more. It’s called  equipment telematics, and by using it you can remotely track information about your equipment.

The information you collect using equipment telematics helps improve machine utilization, reduces fuel and energy consumption, and even lessens the need for frequent maintenance and lengthy repair schedules.

From a project management perspective, equipment telematics can  improve on-site safety, reduce theft and misuse problems, and help you comply with local noise limits when using geo-fencing and time-fencing options.

Depending on the system you use, telematics data is transmitted via satellite, and more recently by wireless connections. The wireless connections that travel over cellular networks are called cellular M2M (machine-to-machine), and they are part of the new phenomenon called the Internet-of-Things, or IOT.  Other wireless connectivity used for equipment telematics includes Wi-Fi, RFID (radio frequency identification), ZigBee, and more.

The Cellular M2M Connection

If you don’t know much about cellular M2M systems, the technology can seem daunting and remarkably complex. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

In simple terms, it involves equipping construction machinery and equipment with wireless-ready modules to allow them to securely communicate data that’s vital to your business. With M2M-ready equipment, you can tap in remotely from work or home and keep track of what’s going on.

In other words, you don’t have to be at the project site to monitor progress, efficiency and operating information.

This technology frees up more of your time so you can focus on your business, and minimizes the communication process so you can save valuable resources such as time and money. In the event of an emergency, it can also cut down on reaction time, in many cases saving lives in the process.

A Utility Industry Scenario

Utility companies use cellular M2M technology to simplify their data collection and billing procedures. By equipping gas, electric and water meters with M2M modules, the meters communicate usage data in real time. That means employees don’t have to travel to check meters which saves gas, reduces wear-and-tear on vehicles, and much more.

It’s not restrictive either. Cellular M2M technology can also track a great deal of information such as emergency calls, fleet management, alarms and security, point of sale (POS), and automotive needs. It depends on the technology used, and the equipment on which those systems are installed.

A Construction Scenario

A great example of telematics and M2M systems in the world of construction is Empire CAT’s VisionLink technology. When using it,  management and project administrators can remotely monitor crucial data.

You can see things like the following:

  • Equipment location and operating times
  • Entire fleet summaries when multiple pieces of equipment are in use
  • Fuel consumption
  • Working time versus idle time
  • Location boundaries with email updates

In particular, the location boundaries are useful to prevent theft and misuse of your equipment. When a piece of machinery exits the boundaries you set, you’ll receive alerts and email updates. This is also good from an insurance perspective because it lowers premiums thanks to advanced security.

If you’re having issues with your equipment or need advice, service technicians can tap in remotely and offer aid. This can help you cut down on maintenance and repair issues, which saves you money.

Using equipment telematics and cellular M2M technologies delivers one more important benefit. It helps you stay competitive.

James White is an experienced home improvement blogger and construction worker. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Construction Today and Building Blok.  Twitter: @JGtheSavage