Three Benefits of IoT Technology for Construction Equipment

Major construction firms will continue to beef up their workflow with advanced technologies, leaving others in the dust. The future of construction is in big data and contractors must build capacity to harness it.
By Kinana Hussain
July 22, 2019

The business case for IoT in construction is clear. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), equipment dealers, rental companies and contractors who do not seize the value of IoT today risk becoming obsolete. Yet, implementation is often viewed as overwhelming, cumbersome and expensive.

Luckily, there are a variety of cost-effective IoT telematics solutions for construction operations at all scales. And while OEMs, dealers, rental companies and contractors might leverage telematics slightly differently, the utility of these low-cost devices is undeniably common.

Location awareness, predictive maintenance, health of equipment (such as battery and fuel consumption), hours of usage, ability to associate peripherals and environmental awareness drive strong economic incentives for each player in the value chain. Here’s how to move the needle with IoT-enabled construction today.

1. Smart sensors and telematics help manage assets and prevent failure

Equipment and machinery are often overworked or retired before their time. That’s a big problem for OEMs that want to keep their customers satisfied with their purchases and their brand intact. Advanced onboard computers communicating with smart sensors and telematics devices in the asset allows construction owners to diagnose problems and schedule preventative maintenance before a catastrophic and costly failure occurs. Furthermore, OEMs can use this same data to inform and drive their research and development (R&D) to ensure identified problems are mitigated in their equipment in the future.

In rental channels, IoT sensors and telematics are even more critical because equipment and machinery renters want to make sure their assets are properly maintained. Rental companies that want to maximize the life of their assets want to leverage telematics for predictive maintenance. For example, by knowing how entire fleets are being used, dealers can forecast when replacement parts will need to be ordered and replaced.

Additionally, with IoT telematics and geolocation, OEMs, dealerships and rental channels in the construction ecosystems can easily track their equipment and associated attachments. This ensures construction owners have access to these assets when they need it to eliminate interruptions to their project workflow.

2. Optimizing performance across multiple sites

Productivity and asset use are the bread and butter of construction. Enterprises operating on a national or global scale lose out on millions of dollars when projects are delayed, so it is key that data must not only be efficiently gathered and organized but allow for effective decision-making.

Via IoT, construction professionals can reap immediate ROI, whether they are operating a yellow iron fleet or monitoring small equipment, by capturing real-time data on assets, equipment and fleet activity. Utilization patterns such as engine hours not only inform proactive maintenance but ultimately reduce liabilities and costs of similar projects down the road.

Assigning usage rules and virtual boundaries can provide further savings by maintaining a single source of truth for projects across multiple sites. Geofences can be integrated with on-vehicle dashboards and a real-time alert system can notify managers when assets travel outside of designated zones. They will also be aware of unauthorized personnel use outside of work hours preventing equipment misuse and misdirection.

IoT ultimately enhances data provenance and integrity, allowing for other value-added services beyond maintenance. A consistent stream of data expedites not only the equipment rental process but also aids claims personnel and law enforcement in recovery. Contractors can also capitalize on large purchases sooner by renting out equipment in the off-season.

3. Central command center via IoT cloud

Contractors can realize further savings with IoT and cloud technology by establishing a centralized command center to monitor and track their fleet vehicles, industrial machines and small assets.

Traditionally firms have had limited tools to leverage data generated via IoT telematics, resulting in inefficiencies and costly delays. With IoT telematics, companies can develop robust R&D, combining data from telematics communicated via a cloud platform and synthesized through analytics. When failures happen, they no longer have to scramble to determine why and how best to respond. Rather than manage complex projects with disorganized paperwork and spreadsheets, a diverse range of equipment can be supervised from a tablet or smartphone.

What’s on the horizon for contractors

All contractors aim to boost productivity and efficiency while mitigating costs. When managing billions of dollars of equipment, this becomes even more challenging. Discrepancies between estimates and ground conditions may result in costly last-minute changes. Missing a day or a week on a project could lead to millions of dollars of lost productivity and revenue. With smart sensors and IoT telematics, contractors can better orchestrate the complex symphony of varying machines, peripherals, tools and equipment. For enterprises operating on a global scale, this can make the difference between loss and profitability.

While IoT telematics implementation may seem daunting, the biggest challenge facing contractors today is simply employing a data-driven mindset. It’s not just up to IT to implement IoT, but rather for the entire organization to embrace data as a solution, not an impediment to progress. In the near term, major construction firms will continue to beef up their workflow with advanced technologies, leaving others in the dust. The future of construction is in big data, and contractors must build capacity to harness it.

by Kinana Hussain
Kinana Hussain is Vice President of Product Line Management at CalAmp and has held the position since 2017. He leads strategies to maximize the impact of product launches for the telematics and IoT market leader. Before joining CalAmp, Kinana lent his winning blend of business expertise in product development over a series of positions with Peregrine Semiconductor (now Murata), and Vitesse Semiconductor (now MicroChip).

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