Construction telematics applies the same principles to construction equipment that are commonly known for vehicle fleet management, which use IoT Technology via GPS and CANbus enabled cellular asset trackers to send data that includes location, speed, engine diagnostics and other vital asset health data read through the vehicle’s computer.
Telematics for construction equipment have many practical purposes and applications. Learn how these telematics systems can help contractors and equipment owners increase productivity and stay in control of every asset on the job site.
Overview of Telematics for Construction Equipment
Construction telematics solutions can track and monitor any registered construction asset, from the heaviest equipment to the smallest tools. Equipment owners and managers can access that data, monitor their assets in real-time, and obtain valuable diagnostic, utilization, condition, and cost information on each piece of equipment. With telematics, equipment fleet management not only becomes more accessible and efficient, but the data gathered is far more accurate and comprehensive.
The Technologies of Construction Telematics Software
Integrated construction software uses four primary components to gather and deliver data:
- Location-based services (LBS)
- Vehicle telemetry
- Equipment usage sensors
- Onboard diagnostics systems
Although many of the individual technologies used in telematics solutions predate the Internet of Things (IoT), modern construction telematics is an IoT solution. Construction telematics software takes advantage of today’s wireless internet connections to transmit data faster and more efficiently.
One of the fundamental purposes of construction equipment telematics is to provide equipment owners and site managers with a convenient way to track and locate their equipment in real-time.
The location-based services (LBS) feature in modern construction telematics solutions uses a combination of the local cellular network and any of the available satellite navigation GNSS systems for positioning. Generally, the following GNSS systems are available to tracking devices to establish their position: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou. These systems are maintained by the USA, Russia, The EU and China respectively.
After establishing location via GNSS, the tracker then uses mobile internet via cellular link to transmit the data to a database system which implements the LBS functionality and thus provides information to the equipment operator or a manager.
Construction telematics software implements LBS to provide you with real-time location-based information on every connected asset while the asset is in operation. For example, an equipment owner can check a map of a specific job site and check the location of every asset currently present.
LBS can also track whether a particular piece of equipment is static or moving and see whether specific assets are entering or leaving a designated area (e.g., geofencing).
Telemetry and Asset Usage Monitoring
Another fundamental purpose of construction equipment telematics is to read onboard vehicle telemetry and transmit accurate vehicle usage data. This data is used to form precise telematics reports of each vehicle or piece of heavy equipment on the site.
Although GnSS-based systems such as those used by LBS can estimate the current speed of a moving object, they may not provide sufficient accuracy for a job site manager. They also cannot provide information about vehicle usage habits, only location data.
IoT telematics trackers can provide the following data:
- Current speed and idling time data
- Speed, acceleration, and braking data
- Fuel consumption and estimated emissions data
- Seatbelt detection and usage statistics
- Diagnostic trouble codes
- Power Take-off status
Fleet management telematics software would not be complete without additional sensors monitoring equipment health.
Telematics solutions can communicate with onboard diagnostics systems, allowing equipment managers to receive alerts and information about each vehicle and piece of heavy equipment. Data points include:
- Engine hours
- Fault codes
- Maintenance indicators (e.g., onboard component status)
The Top 7 Benefits of Telematics for Construction Equipment
Construction companies can significantly benefit from using dedicated telematics solutions. Here are the top reasons why you should take advantage of this technology.
1. Increasing Worker Safety and Promoting Better Habits
Fleet telematics software not only monitors equipment location and usage but also tracks usage habits. By monitoring telemetry data, such as acceleration and braking rates, average speed, idling rates, fuel consumption, and other operating information, you can determine the driving habits of each worker and equipment operator using connected equipment.
One of the most common uses for this information is detecting potential erratic, aggressive, or inefficient driving habits. Telematics and fleet management software can incorporate additional safety devices and safe driving promotion tools, such as driver scorecards. Such tools allow managers to detect inefficient or unsafe drivers easily. They can use this information to take appropriate corrective action, such as safety awareness training.
In addition to promoting better equipment operation habits, telematics solutions can also protect and exonerate equipment operators in case of accidents. These solutions can mitigate legal risks and, if needed, minimize associated costs.
Other technologies and devices compatible with construction telematics include dash cams and video recording capabilities. By complementing video recordings with telemetry and location-based data, telematics solutions can provide actionable evidence to a court of law, helping resolve disputes.
2. Improving Onsite Security and Equipment Theft Prevention
Although rarely discussed in the news, construction equipment theft is an ongoing issue in the industry. According to the most recent National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) statistics, over 10,000 cases occur each year, costing the industry approximately $400 million. A 2022 series of theft reports show that over the last five years, the week of July 1st through 7th saw $3,061,238 worth of stolen equipment, with $7,739,056 in theft over the Memorial Day weekend during the same period.
One of the primary reasons behind this phenomenon is the lack of a national database of construction equipment and vehicles (such as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System for passenger vehicles), making it easier and more profitable to steal and resell construction assets.
Consequently, it falls on construction companies and equipment managers to protect their assets from theft. One of the most efficient ways to do so is to take advantage of telematics. Integrated location-based services (LBS) can track the location of all connected equipment in real-time but also alert equipment owners if any assets leave the job site.
Managers can use the geofencing feature to create a virtual zone on the map, corresponding to the geographical limits of the project site. Whenever connected equipment leaves the geofenced area, the asset’s linked construction software can notify the manager in real-time.
Combining location tracking features with geofencing and entry/exit alerts allows equipment owners to improve construction security and combat construction equipment theft.
3. Optimizing Onsite Fleet Management with Asset Trackers
Telematics and equipment fleet management software allows contractors to track equipment with more efficiency and visibility than before. With a construction telematics solution, you can seamlessly and instantly view each piece of connected equipment on a map, eliminating the need to call workers and assistants to find where your assets are.
All you need to see a piece of equipment on your application map is to install a tracking device on each asset.
You can install various types of tracking devices on any asset, from flagship heavy equipment, such as loaders, excavators, or cranes, to small and hand-operated tools, such as compressors, power drills, or jackhammers. You can even track construction resources and consumables going in and out of your company’s inventory, such as traffic barrels, concrete forms, or steel beams. Different types of asset trackers provide differing types of data to allow a custom solution for each asset type that is best suited for each application.
Managers can also use telematics system apps to issue work orders and detect whether the corresponding asset is currently in use based on data from its tracker. For example, managers can send under-used equipment back to the shop or relocate tools from one job site to the next without delays based on usage stats collected via the trackers. This practice minimizes downtime due to a lack of visibility over underutilization.
Besides helping you keep track of your fleet at all times, taking advantage of location tracking devices minimizes the risk of losing or misplacing your assets. It also reduces unnecessary costs incurred when replacements or rentals are needed and lets you make the most of what you already have.
4. Increasing the Speed and Efficiency of Equipment Maintenance Processes
Construction companies previously had to establish their own maintenance routines, which often involved manually tracking each vehicle and piece of equipment’s care and repair needs. However, these methods were inefficient and resource intensive, and breakdowns were considered inevitable. Breakdowns cause downtime, decreasing productivity.
Today, telematics software fed by trackers connected to engine control units and onboard diagnostics systems allow you to centralize vehicle health and equipment statistics, making all accessible from a mobile application. Managers can view any asset’s current status through the telematics app and easily schedule custom preventive maintenance routines for each asset type. The telematics software application can also log equipment maintenance events and allow for the creation of work orders, complete with progress tracking thus providing a unified complete system for vehicle maintenance and usage tracking.
Onboard diagnostics can also communicate with the telematics solution and inform you of an asset’s current utilization statistics via engine hours or miles, as well as its lifetime usage. If a specific vehicle returns an engine or subset fault code, the telematics software can issue an instant app notification. Equipment managers can then issue service requests even from the field, minimizing downtime and keeping productivity up.
5. Communicating with Your Other Business Management Software and OEM Integrations
A construction telematics system can also help your fleet management and equipment operation outside of the job site. It can integrate and communicate with the other business systems, such as:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integrations
- Project operation and business intelligence Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) integrations
- OEM integration from various manufacturers into a singular platform
ERP integrations allow your construction telematics solution to update data into your resource planning software automatically. These integrations eliminate the need for repetitive manual data entry, reducing inaccuracies and saving you time. For example, an ERP integration can communicate with your accounting software, automatically logging and recording your asset engine hours and miles.
Integrations allow accounting software to use the data provided by your telematics system for project cost estimations. The values you get are more accurate because they make estimations based on your true equipment data instead of averages or misinformed projections.
Project operation integrations can also use your telematics data to produce more accurate productivity forecasting. These systems leverage your equipment data to better estimate the number of work hours a machine will be required to complete a specific scope of work.
Your telematics system can also communicate with OEM sensors and onboard equipment, enabling contractors to leverage the telematics data they are already receiving from their manufacturers by integrating it into a single equipment management platform. This capability lets you centralize all your asset and equipment information, making it accessible from one place for all your asset makes and types.
6. Reduce Equipment and Vehicle Operating Costs
Although investing in a telematics solution for your construction equipment may be a significant financial commitment, taking advantage of its features can help you mitigate operating costs in multiple practical ways, saving you money in the long run. For example, monitoring your engine idling and speeds can help you determine if your assets are burning excessive amounts of fuel.
According to Department of Energy estimates, driving even 5 mph above the speed limit decreases your fuel efficiency by 7% to 14%. With a telematics system, you gain visibility of your assets’ fuel efficiency and usage habits, allowing you to see whether your workers are driving as efficiently as possible.
7. Compliance with Fuel Tax Regulations
Construction telematics can help you calculate the fuel tax you are liable to report to the federal government in accordance with the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) requirements based on your area of operation if you drive commercial vehicles in multiple states or move equipment across state lines between projects. By knowing where your trucks and vehicles are accumulating IFTA miles by jurisdiction, fuel type and asset using GPS trackers, you will have the location and fuel consumption data you need for your federal fuel tax reporting. This is an added benefit of construction telematics systems and improves the manual processes of collecting, analyzing and accounting for miles driven by state, region, province, etc. Systems like Tenna prepare useful reports with this information for accounting purposes. You may also be able to leverage your telematics data for fuel tax refunds (consult with your tax accountant to understand your eligibility in your area and related application requirements).
How Construction Telematics is Driving a Revolution
Although telematics can fulfill multiple specific roles and applications, the overall purpose of a construction telematics solution is to help you get the most out of your assets and equipment.
Telematics can improve your operations in every aspect of your construction business that matters. It enables better asset visibility, increased productivity, decreased total cost of ownership, enhanced worker safety, and greater cost control while saving time and improving efficiencies on day-to-day equipment related management duties.
While many of the technologies utilized within a telematics system are relatively established, such as satellite navigation or onboard telemetry, the primary advantage of construction telematics lies in the efficient interpretation and use of the data.
Telematics data brings tremendous value to construction businesses in their day-to-day operations, forecasting and budgeting. When looking to implement a construction telematics system in your business, look for one that is built specifically for construction businesses and workflows, can allow you to track and manage your entire fleet on one platform, and that integrates with other key business systems your team relies on.
Are you interested in knowing more about telematics and construction technologies? Do you want new ways to improve equipment fleet management and productivity? Tenna can help you. Book a demo today to learn more.
About Frank Rodriguez
Frank is Hardware Engineering Manager at Tenna LLC, headquartered in Edison, NJ. Over the last four years, Frank has worked tirelessly to build Tenna’s tracker ecosystem to enable customers to Find More value in their mixed fleet assets. Leveraging contacts across industry, and vast experience in the electronics industry, Frank brings new ideas, opportunities and capabilities to Tenna’s growing list of asset trackers, and tirelessly works with Tenna’s customer success personnel to bring that value to our customers. Frank has worked in a variety of technical settings, from Consumer Electronics to Biotechnology, Toys to Satellite Radio, and in his 35 years in electronics has always striven to not only make the best – but to share the experience with others. More recently, Frank mentors students, sharing his experience and inspiring our young engineers of tomorrow. Frank lives in picturesque Bordentown, NJ close by the Delaware River. He enjoys gardening, nature and gourmet cooking.