Mobilizing and dispatching equipment is part of every construction company’s daily routine. While current construction technology has made the process of managing equipment and other asset resources more efficient, a complete and thorough solution for construction resource management – requesting, approving, scheduling, dispatching, etc. – has yet to avail itself to contractors. That is, until now. Read on to learn more about a new total solution for construction resource management and dispatching for construction businesses.
Current Inefficiencies with Traditional Construction Resource Management
Several players are involved in the logistics process. People in the field, shop and office are all part of the equipment lifecycle including the movement and use of that equipment across operations and business locations.
Equipment and logistics managers are constantly juggling and managing multiple moving parts. Between the non-stop phone calls and coordination between so many sites and personnel, it’s not surprising that sometimes things slip. Equipment management software has made equipment tracking, maintenance and other management easier but they have lacked an automated process for telling people what they need to do and where they (and their assets) need to be. They may know where the equipment is and where it needs to go, but without an automated system to help facilitate the process of assigning a dispatcher or laborer and asset to an appropriate site, equipment and logistics managers are still at a disadvantage. They need to rely on multiple coordination phone calls to ensure that personnel know what to do and where to go but those days can be a thing of the past if a company has the right software solution that can provide updates in a timely manner when plans and/or schedules change.
Your field personnel – operators, low boy drivers, laborers, foremen, crew leaders, etc. – have similar problems. Today, they get a piece of paper, a text, a call, or email to let them know where to go next, usually lacking details, not knowing when things may change unless they hear from the dispatcher, and no way to confirm the completed task or delivery at hand. Without clear direction and regular updates, their days can become chaotic and frustrating. The industry faces a chronic issue of 'not closing the loop' with the field, which can lead to very expensive (or even unsafe) mistakes, oversights, and/or schedule slips.
For the project teams today, equipment request forms or site mobilization and equipment lists typically exist on paper or as informal emails or templates to be filled out. Once they are filled in and submitted to the shop/yard/ops manager, they typically won’t get confirmation or hear back about the plans to receive their requested asset or laborers until they ask for an update. This leaves the project teams in the dark about when their resources will get on site, or if there was an issue or delay, which has a huge impact to executing on key operations and critical path scopes.
On the executive level, and from a documentation and risk management standpoint, executives and owners want accurate documentation and a "paper trail" of what happen/did not happen so they can minimize losses and avoid missed opportunities. Details such as requiring a photo, signature, timestamp, and geolocation when an asset gets delivered to a jobsite (could be a sub or a customer) to document the condition of the asset are helpful to have documented for future reference and records.
What Contractors Need in a Construction Resource Management Solution
Two major things (among several other details) come to mind when thinking of an ideal solution for construction scheduling and dispatching. First, contractors need a solution that is automated to replace the inefficiencies created by human error prone paper-based methods, manual uploading and missed or infrequent phone calls. Second, since people who work in a construction are scattered across different locations and constantly on the move, they need a system that gives them clear visibility into requests, statuses, schedules, updates and the details that they need. This visibility in a trusted system eliminates the need to rely on others for information and updates and reduces logistical and miscommunication risks.
We’re not implying that there aren’t existing dispatching products and systems on the market – there most certainly are. The issue with those systems is that they are not truly built for construction workflows with use cases for multiple different user types. Many existing products are siloed in ways that most (if not all) inputs are analog, offline, and/or manual and only cater to one user type, leaving the other people that are part of the process without a solution.
For example, with many current systems, dispatchers still need to create/add the requests and needs they receive from the field via paper, phone, text, email, or custom form (e.g. google form) for assets and labor resources. The rest of the team – the requestors, drivers, site supers, PMs, etc. – have little to no access into the dispatcher's system, so they are not aware of decisions being made (e.g. a request being approved), changes taking place every day (e.g. a delivery was delayed to tomorrow because of weather), or what to except in the future (e.g. what is planned to arrive in the next two weeks). This forces the dispatcher to become a bottleneck and to spend a great deal of time and stress simply communicating and closing the loop with everyone who is in the field. Put differently, usually only the dispatcher or the people physically sitting behind the dispatcher's screen have the full picture of what is requested, where things are, and where things will be tomorrow.
What Tenna Delivers in Their Construction Resource Management Product
In contrast to the existing solutions on the market, Tenna’s construction resource management offering was built the other way around: it empowers everyone (PMs, supers, drivers, laborers and more) to have access and contribute to the requesting, planning, and dispatching asset and labor.
Tenna’s Resource Management solution was built for key construction roles. It’s dedicated attention to making an easy-to-use and powerful 'field product' that drivers, laborers, PMs, supers, engineers, and other key personnel can use to complete their routine moves and operations efficiently. It was built as a customer inspired and market-informed solution of the current gaps and needs in this type of system and solution. Tenna worked directly with their contractor customers and designed a solution with their requests in mind to create a total solution for their needs that also fits seamlessly within Tenna’s core platform.
Tenna is the first to leverage telematics-based insights for a construction-specific “dispatch” solution for mixed asset fleets. Their system allows contractors to manage their equipment through a single provider and allows users to leverage the rest of Tenna’s equipment management insights within their scheduling and dispatching workflows within a single system, such as real-time location, telematics alerts, maintenance needs and other operations insights. This allows contractors to make the best and most-informed decisions around equipment planning and efficiently approving and fulfilling project resource needs.
Resource Management allows for the requesting, approving, coordinating, planning, scheduling and dispatching of assets and labor resources. It includes features and functionality that are dedicated to the specific parts of the logistics process construction companies do every day to make decisions on resource moves and ultimately gives clear and visible direction to their field teams to execute on.
The planning and scheduling part of the process, and the visibility associated with that across personnel, is a huge component that makes this product stand out. It is the shared schedule, for example, that can inform site management, the shop, the home office and the driver/laborer of what will happen next week and whether there are any conflicts for any assets or key labor resources.
Field teams using Tenna to request assets and see the schedule for the assets and labor resources they have requested benefit tremendously from this process. The user making the request can now be in the know of things getting approved, scheduled and ultimately dispatched to the site without having to nag someone for updates. This is huge for them, as they can now see and get a 2 week look ahead (or longer) of where assets and people will be. The equipment manager can also can easily spot gaps or plan for moving, renting or buying more assets.
This also alleviates those in the equipment manager, logistics manager or dispatcher role from being a chokepoint in the logistics process. This allows them to focus on other operations like reviewing requests for assets across jobsites, making decisions based on leveraging insights from Tenna such as current utilization, maintenance due, fault codes, etc. to dispatch the best asset for the job, and eliminates logistical errors and related stress.
Drivers, laborers and crews using Tenna receive notifications of where they need to be and when, with what asset, and can view their schedule, assigned pickups and deliveries or tasks for the day. They can mark tasks and deliveries as complete and easily keep the rest of the team in the know.
Want to Learn More about Resource Management, Scheduling and Dispatching?
In summary, Tenna’s construction resource management solution is easy to use, optimized for the field, involves all parties to share in one same view and single source of truth, interconnected with all other elements of their equipment management solution.
If you’re interested in learning more about improving your equipment requests, scheduling and dispatch processes, contact Tenna today to learn more about how to streamline and simplify this process across your team.
About Jose Cueva
Jose applies his knowledge and first-hand construction experience to deliver innovative platform solutions to a growing number of companies. His involvement in both architecting solutions and delivering them enables him to cross over functional roles.