Safety, efficiency, and revenue: all close the heart of any business. All three are important, with safety elevating to the height of crucial. There is one technology available that can improve all three: Geosynchronous Positioning Satellite, or GPS tracking.
GPS has become ubiquitous and standard in new vehicles and can be installed into construction equipment as well. It can certainly be the killer app for fleet management, but its strengths are every bit as valuable to the construction industry.
GPS improves safety
A vehicle or piece of equipment outfitted with a GPS can help you evaluate the driving habits of your workers. You can typically receive notifications and reports that tell you the speed the vehicle is moving, or whether it has been accelerated past the posted limit, indicating possibly reckless driving. It can also show whether the vehicle has been subjected to a hard turn or a hard stop, which could indicate accident avoidance. Seat belt monitoring can even be added.
Some GPS devices can track the current tire pressure and alert you, a manager, or the drive when it becomes dangerously low. Then the tire can be checked before it blows out and causes a serious accident.
Another way to eliminate problems is by monitoring how many hours a driver has been behind the wheel. Driver exhaustion is a common cause of collisions and one-vehicle incidents. An alert can be sent when a predetermined time has passed without a driver change or rest period.
GPS can even help prevent vehicle and equipment misuse. In the case of employees using work equipment for personal reasons, you can track where and when this occurs, document it, and put a stop to it.
Personal use of company equipment increases the liability a company carries and can cause you to pay more in insurance that you would otherwise. In addition, you could run into tax problems if the government ever found out that vehicles and equipment that are on a depreciation schedule or other program for tax purposes has been used outside of those parameters.
GPS increases efficiency
The first thing to come to mind is that a truck or piece of equipment with GPS is easily located; a boon for dispatchers who must move materials and workers around as efficiently as possible.
The GPS can:
- Track the best routes
- Identify the fastest route to a destination
- Monitor traffic patterns for congestion
- Show current accident reports so the driver can avoid the area
- Route around road construction
- Have a predetermined route set ahead of time
This last point helps drivers immensely, especially if they are not familiar with the area.
A GPS can automate record keeping as well, saving you from attempting to keep track of everything manually. Maintenance, in particular, is easier to keep up with when an automated system is set up with reminders for oil changes, tire rotations, emissions testing, and registration renewals.
The GPS can also produce reports that show engine run time and track idling. One can help eliminate avoidable repairs while the other can help save fuel costs. For example, an hour of idling uses up a gallon of diesel fuel. It is unnecessary to idle a diesel fuel vehicle to “warm up” before it is driven, one cause of engine use that can be discontinued with driver education.
A GPS electronic odometer obviously tracks vehicle miles, an important part of maintenance planning. Automated service reminders can be set according to miles driven.
Mobile collection of construction data is possible through GPS. With complementary or integrated field service management tools you can eliminate the time it can take for paperwork to get to the office from the jobsite or from the road. This makes it easier to:
- Expedite billing
- Ensure accurate payroll
- Track inventory
- Log vehicle or equipment use
- Verify deliveries
Taken altogether, these records can provide tracking and trending reports on your fleet and on your equipment to support decisions for replacements or additions.
As we just mentioned, automated tracking helps with accurate payroll. It also simplifies other cost tracking, such as for fuel expenses and labor costs. Billable hours are easily recorded and job costing becomes easier with access to accurate historical data.
With the right system, you can obtain a report on all vehicular and equipment expenses from a single, simplifying accounting and planning even further. You will have information regarding fuel, labor, maintenance, and other overhead for each vehicle and for your company equipment overall.
It makes budgeting much easier as well. Historical data can be used from previous jobs to create a new estimate. The GPS data can help you estimate fuel use, maintenance costs, and labor costs. All of this tracking is done remotely. The GPS can even help monitor construction job training and compliance.
GPS can increases profits
When you can avoid repairs, efficiently route vehicles, track driver behavior, and keep records through the GPS you can lower your operating costs by cutting fuel expenses, creating and sending reports between the jobsite and office in real time, and save on insurance. Many insurance carriers offer a discount to those who have a GPS installed in their equipment because it provides a way to locate stolen or lost vehicles and equipment (a major capital expense).
Driver’s habits can also be watched, not just through tracking hard starts and stops or exceeding posted speed limits. You can track PTO (Power Take Off) events to see if the equipment is even being used. In addition, you could potentially prevent bad driving and stealing by setting alerts to notify you if the vehicle is being used outside of normal working hours or outside the jobsite. Let the employees know you did it, too.
GPS is definitely the killer app for cost savings and improved safety for your construction company. It provides a versatile range of information that can be analyzed in multiple ways to help you keep your equipment running, and keep your employees safe, all while increasing your profits.