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Telematics technology is becoming increasingly used as construction projects, in working with competitive profit margins, are appreciating the value this technological assistance can bring. These systems have been used in construction vehicles for approximately 10 years with many benefits, including promoting the health of machines, optimising vehicle productivity and influencing operator behaviour. The benefits also extend to the engineering community to help design better machines in the future. We believe that the implementation of telematics is here to stay.
Telematics devices come as standard on larger construction vehicles and work by utilizing satellite and cellular communication with the data produced, making it available to operators and delivered via a web portal to managers. Devices are often installed as optional on smaller vehicles such as compact loaders.
Telematics has grown significantly since inception. Basic functions include tracking vehicle locations and movements and more advanced functions include monitoring machine health and alerting owners about possible faults.
Daily and monthly reports can be produced so that preventative maintenance schedules can be carried out. Detailed information includes error and event codes (e.g. for overheating), location and working status as well as fuel levels and water temperatures.
Great value is derived from error codes, including those caused by operator actions, such as driving with the handbrake on, as equipment can be protected before severe harm is done. The information can also indicate possible staff training requirements.
Event codes can also signify problems with the site, such as excessive slopes that cause breaking, so steps can be taken to solve these problems where practical.
Vehicles that carry loads can have weight and/or counting systems installed to generate information on loads transported and trips made. This can be offset against fuel burned and when combined with information about how long a vehicle takes to make trips, this can be a powerful management tool.
A particular problem is idling and telematics can identify this quickly. When idling, a machine is using fuel but not carrying out work, which is inefficient. Vehicle warranties reflect engine running time so when idling, warranty time is being wasted.
Driving technique quality can be spotted using telematics, which can point out operating problems so behaviour can be changed and, if desired, incentives offered so the whole process is positive rather than simply a reprimand.
This is an increasing problem in construction and the huge size of vehicles doesn’t prevent them from being stolen. GPS sensors come as standard with telematics to help track a vehicle in the unfortunate event of theft. Owners can use telematics devices to set ‘geo-fences’, which switch off the engine and alert the owner if the vehicle goes outside a set area or is operated outside of specified hours e.g. weekends. This can help to reduce insurance premiums.
Telematics in the construction vehicle sector can only grow and become more comprehensive. Over 57,000 machines are registered with telematics systems and these are driving real process change in the construction industry and helping to maximize profits.