Much attention is paid to how well operators manage and track long-haul and even short, vocational truck fleets using GPS tracking solutions and telematics. These solutions pay for themselves through better vehicle maintenance, compliance with federal and state regulations, theft prevention, asset tracking and safer drivers.
But we do not hear as much about how these technologies work in mining and construction environments, which are dominated by off-highway vehicles, or off-road assets. Overall, this represents a smaller number of vehicles than the long-haul crowd must manage, but investments in off-road assets differ because hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are tied up in a single piece of equipment.
That’s where telematics really shines, in protecting and getting the most return from these costly and highly specialized machines, and doing so in the safest possible way.
The market sees the value, too. Factors driving increased off-road asset telematics adoption include a recovering construction industry, more demand for precision agriculture, a focus on precision in the mining industry, and government policies that increase the safety and security of off-highway assets. A leading analyst firm (Future Market Insights) predicts the cellular telematics segment to grow at nine percent over the next ten years, to $237.8 million.
Measure, Optimize, Repeat
Unlike long haul trucking, off-road assets are active in and around mines, construction sites and other smaller areas of operation. They make shorter but more frequent trips and as such, fuel is burned inefficiently during stop-and-go, sitting idle and pushing or pulling huge payloads. Also, managing off-road assets efficiently means watching billable engine hours, every second of which needs to be tracked.
This is especially true for the biggest assets that costs more to operate. They have to earn money and deliver value every day. Telematics allow operators to ensure a return by optimizing equipment use. Connected machines let operators see exactly how the equipment is being used for how many hours and presents opportunities to maximize asset allocation.
Additionally, off-road asset connectivity provides granular details that streamline processes such as trip cycle management, ensuring maximum fuel efficiency and, of course, adhering to regular hourly maintenance schedules.
Truck, Asset, and Theft Tracking
Running a streamlined construction, mining or agriculture operation means getting the most done with the fewest, but best, resources. It also means protecting those expensive assets when they are on a job. So, tracking assets has two meanings: 1) knowing where the machines are and making sure they are the best for the job; and 2) knowing where those machines are and making sure they don’t go missing.
It is not uncommon for construction and mining companies to work more than one job at a time. Typically, there are multiple construction sites or mining pits with multiple machines in use at any given time. Tracking to maximize all assets in use — making sure the right ones are at the right jobs, taking others not being used out of service — has a direct correlation to project goals.
Additionally, there’s a movement in the construction industry toward reducing carbon emissions. Off-road assets frequently are left running on full power for long periods of time. The amount of CO2 emissions one machine puts out versus another is a growing consideration when assigning equipment for jobs. Sensors monitor and report engine efficiency in real-time so air quality suffers less.
Keeping track of equipment when it’s not in use is just as important — theft has become a real problem. The National Insurance Crime Bureau tracks the theft of heavy equipment and in 2014 released a report with startling details. Up to $1 billion in equipment was stolen that year, and law enforcement recovered just 20 percent of the losses. Our expanding economy only ensures theft will remain a problem, but it’s one tamper proof and always-on technologies mitigate.
Safety First and Last
Finally, off-road assets operate in some of the most dangerous work zones there are. Risk is inherently part of the job and people’s lives depend on the safe operation of these machines. Connected equipment provides a way to track operator behaviors so good habits can be rewarded and emulated, and bad behaviors like speeding, fatigued operation or even operating under the influence are prevented or stopped in the moment.
Managing off-road assets like the critical investment and asset class they are is crucial to an efficient, safe business. Protecting these machines by outfitting them with real-time telematics brings operations “into the cab” to provide visibility, accountability, safety and profitability.
To learn more about monitoring vehicles and tracking off-road assets, visit www.teletracnavman.com/gps-tracking-benefits.