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Heavy Equipment Tracking and Telematics Brian Dziuk | Mar 5, 2020 2:30:00 PM

Telematics, or the blending of computers and wireless telecommunications technologies to convey information, is often used to help both private and public organizations track fleets of vehicles. This data may help to prevent theft, improve operational efficiency, and even enforce contractual or legal obligations.

Contrary to popular belief, telematics is for more than just tracking the locations of delivery vehicles. Heavy equipment tracking is yet another application of telematics that has become prevalent since the introduction of global positioning system (GPS) devices.

How does heavy equipment tracking work? What kinds of equipment tracking devices should you use? What are the uses of construction equipment tracking? Here are some answers to these questions:

How Does Heavy Equipment Tracking Work?

There are two major components that companies have to deploy in a heavy equipment GPS tracking solution:

  1. Heavy equipment tracking software; and
  2. Equipment tracking devices.

Heavy Equipment Tracking Software

Heavy equipment tracking software is the software solution that helps fleet and equipment managers collate and interpret the data supplied by their telematics devices. The specific information that the software collects and the way it is presented may vary from one solution to the next.

For example, some GPS tracking software programs might emphasize just the location data of a device. Meanwhile, others might track:

  • Asset activation/deactivation times.
  • Equipment events (such as doors opening/closing).
  • Driver behaviors (for mobile construction equipment and assets).
  • Temperature/humidity conditions.
  • Hours of service.
  • Engine idle times.

Some things might be more critical to track than others depending on goals. A construction company worried about the possible theft of heavy equipment might want to set up alerts for when a GPS-tagged asset leaves a construction site. Meanwhile, a company with lots of temperature-sensitive equipment might be more worried about tracking temperature conditions.

Construction Equipment Tracking Devices

Heavy equipment tracking devices provide the data that the software interprets. These devices come in a wide variety of models—far too many to cover them all in detail here. So, here’s a short list of some GPS tracking devices that are considered ideal for tracking large assets:

  • TTU-730: A long-lasting battery life for use with unpowered heavy assets. This tracker can last up to seven years on a single charge with one update per day. With an easy-to-swap lithium battery, this heavy equipment GPS tracking device is perfect for long-term deployment of assets.
  • TTU-2830: This LTE-enabled tracker has three different inputs and outputs for interfacing with different sensors—such as driver ID and temperature tracking systems. A 3-axis accelerometer is also useful for tracking driver behaviors in mobile construction equipment assets.
  • XT-4900: A solar-powered GPS tracking device that can accept firmware updates “over the air” without the need to physically touch the device. This makes the XT-4900 an excellent choice for long-term deployment as an anti-theft device.

The equipment tracking device you choose will be largely determined by what specific features you need it to have. Some construction equipment companies prefer to use devices that tie into the vehicle’s power system—like the TTU-2830—while others prefer a purely battery-powered device—like the TTU-730—as they’re harder to find and remove (making them ideal for anti-theft purposes).

Ways to Use Heavy Equipment Tracking

There are numerous ways to use heavy equipment tracking solutions. These include:

Preventing the Theft of Construction Vehicles & Heavy Equipment

Construction equipment, generators, and other heavy assets may seem unlikely targets for theft, but data cited by the International Risk Management Institute suggests that heavy equipment theft costs could be as high as $1 billion every year. GPS equipment tracking solutions help to curtail theft and increase the chance of recovery in case of theft.

For example, setting a geofence perimeter around a construction site would allow you to know the moment a GPS-tagged asset leaves the premises. With this alert, you could warn the authorities of the theft in progress and even provide a location for the stolen equipment. This vastly improves the odds of recovering an asset before it is irreparably damaged.

Automating Your Construction Fleet Management

Want to make sure that your construction teams are working in an efficient and timely manner so that you can meet your contractual obligations? Heavy equipment tracking solutions can help!

With heavy equipment tracking software and GPS devices, you can monitor equipment start/stop times, set boundaries for where equipment may be used, and track engine idle times for your heavy equipment. This helps you automate your construction fleet management—tracking employee activities without requiring you to personally be on site to monitor employee behaviors.

Reducing Fuel Waste

Being able to track the engine idle times of heavy construction equipment is invaluable for reducing fuel waste. Heavy equipment tracking devices that can tie into the machine’s onboard diagnostics system can generate reports on engine idle times—allowing you to determine whether a machine is being used at maximum efficiency or if it is simply burning gas without contributing to construction efforts.

With engine idle reports, you can identify and correct wasteful behaviors that lead to increased fuel costs for your company.

Enforcing Contractual Operating Hours

Many municipal construction projects have contracts that specify what times of day that work crews are allowed to operate. These times are typically set so as to minimize disruption to traffic or avoid noise pollution at inconvenient hours.

Violations of these contractual operating hours can lead to fines or loss of contract. By monitoring heavy equipment start and stop times, you can ensure that your crews are following contractual operating hour agreements to the letter.

Improving Maintenance Scheduling

Preventative maintenance is usually much less expensive than “break-fix” or emergency maintenance. Some of the major additional costs that occur when heavy equipment breaks down include:

  • Extra labor (especially for onsite repair technicians) due to more extensive work being required;
  • Equipment relocation/towing fees;
  • Project delays; and
  • Extra parts.

Applying consistent preventative maintenance is key for ensuring efficient operations and avoiding emergency repair costs. Construction equipment tracking solutions can help improve your maintenance scheduling so that there is less risk of onsite equipment breakdowns.

Using telematics solutions for heavy equipment tracking allows construction companies and heavy equipment renters alike to improve operations and save money. Do you need help getting the most out of your heavy equipment? Reach out to Rastrac today to learn more about how you can use GPS tracking solutions to meet your goals.

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