Construction equipment is among the costliest expenses for a company, and for good reason. Between purchasing equipment and having it scattered around multiple job sites, many firms struggle to keep up with maintenance––and this can have serious consequences for the bottom line. For one, it could limit the lifespan of equipment. It can also lead to unforeseen breakdowns, repair costs, and project delays across a company’s portfolio. So, how can companies know when maintenance is needed? Technology. More specifically, equipment management software and sensors that allow companies to track their machinery in real time.
Merrill is co-founder and chief evangelist of WorkMax by AboutTime Technologies.
One such technology is the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of physical objects (such as construction equipment) that are connected to and share data with the cloud. IoT in construction is expected to more than double by 2027, and it’s no surprise why. This technology generates live-field data that can be processed and reported by a mobile workforce platform. This offers a company’s leadership team an in-depth look at equipment––including maintenance needs, equipment location, safety alerts and more –– anytime and anywhere.
Here’s a deeper dive into four types of data construction fleets can gather from their equipment:
Ongoing monitoring and maintenance are key to extending the lifetime of equipment as well as keeping projects and budgets on track. It starts with knowing machinery usage. Equipment sensors can inform a company of how much equipment is being utilized and let decision makers know if machinery is currently in use, how long it’s been used for (on a given day, project, month, etc.) and how frequently it gets used.
Different types of sensors go a long way to ensure equipment runs effectively. Temperature and pressure sensors can improve performance and monitor machinery emissions. This allows companies to identify issues before equipment breaks down or requires repairs while also ensuring your machinery meets environmental standards. Engine and transmission sensors can maintain optimal operating conditions.
Knowing where equipment is at all times is crucial to a company’s productivity. With GPS sensors, and a platform placing location data at one’s fingertips, a company’s fleet management capabilities can share where every piece of equipment is located at any given moment.
Coupled with the equipment usage data being collected, not only can companies ensure that the right piece of equipment is on the correct project site, but it also means construction firms can divert equipment from one project to another if certain machinery is sitting idle at one site but could help move another project forward. Another benefit: knowing exactly where every piece of equipment is located solves misplacement issues and deters theft.
All this data companies are collecting gives greater insight into the efficiency of their equipment. How long is it being used for? Where is it being used? When was the last time it was serviced? These factors can all play a role in determining when a piece of equipment needs maintenance and give great insight into how machinery is performing. By continually measuring the efficiency and conditions of equipment with sensor devices supplying data in real time, companies can both predict when machinery will require maintenance and prevent failures. This is called predictive maintenance and it’s highly effective.
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy, a “well-orchestrated” predictive maintenance program can all but eliminate catastrophic equipment failures. Compared to reactive maintenance, where issues are addressed once they arise, a company can realize cost savings between 30 percent and 40 percent higher, the report said. Companies basing maintenance on the actual condition of their equipment could also see up to a 75 percent elimination in breakdowns; 35 to 45 percent reduction in downtime; and 20 to 25 percent increase in production.
Utilizing collected data to know what equipment is where makes taking equipment inventory a breeze. With the ability to easily track and perform an audit on equipment, companies can know exactly what equipment it owns, how much it's being used and even calculate the costs of operating and maintaining each piece.
Maybe it's less expensive to rent than to own certain equipment. Or a firm can discover where equipment inadequacies are and be able to determine what type of machinery to use more of. This can be true for both equipment and supplies, leading companies to streamline operations to ensure they have what they need, when they need it, where it’s needed.
Advanced construction technology like the IoT network and equipment sensors synced with mobile workforce platforms are the most efficient ways to utilize and protect equipment. As technology continues to advance, now is the time to invest in the solutions that support the foundations of a construction business.